James Chocolates were at the Speciality & Fine Food fair at Olympia earlier this year, and owner James Hutchins himself gave me four little slabs to try out.
Dark chocolate laced with pepper and spices. Strong, peppery taste to begin warming as the chilli begins to kick in. Popping candy for the ‘firecracker’ effect. Not really about the chocolate flavours with all the spiciness going on, but I liked the concept of the popping candy adding ‘fireworks’.
Butterscotch Macadamia Bar
A creamy milk chocolate absolutely covered in pieces of nut, white chocolate, and a lightly salted brittle caramel which served as a decent counterpoint to what is essentially a very sweet treat. The milk chocolate is well rounded and smooth, but does tend to get lost in all the other stuff that’s littering the top of the slab.
White Chocolate with Lemon & Poppy Seed
A creamy white chocolate with a blast of lemon at the start which tails off early enough to mean that the chocolate gets more of a look in. I’m not entirely sure about the poppy seeds though. Presumably there for a little earthy balance and counterpoint, they don’t really seem to deliver a great deal, sticking around to dance about in your mouth with the lemon zest.
White Chocolate with Strawberry
Pink, rather than white, actually, and the strawberry flavour is authentic enough to mean I could eat it, which is no small recommendation. Freeze dried strawberries give it the flavour it needs to pass my palate. The creaminess of the chocolate works really well here – very much Strawberries & Cream in bar form. When tested on a lady from Dorset, she was most enthusiastic – so much so that I think I gave her the rest of the bar.
As far as the pick of the crop goes, I’d have to surprise myself and say the strawberry slab, with the crazy firecracker chocolate coming in second (mainly for humour). The other two aren’t particularly bad in any way, they just don’t leap out as great chocolate.