As a chocolate blogger, the only thing more satisfying than the postman knocking on your door with a package full of chocolate, is when that package has a “Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates” label on it. My life has now reached a point where I don’t generally open chocolate deliveries immediately, but if it’s come from Paul, I know it demands immediate attention.
This time, we have something that looks to be… a Christmas decoration! It looks like the kind of thing that you might hang on a tree or use to decorate a place setting on the table. At around 3 inches long, it’s the perfect size for an indulgent post Christmas dinner treat.
This is a collaboration with Cornish wine producer, Mark Hellyar and is a 64% Madagascan dark chocolate (that sounds like Valrhona Manjari to me!), with a filling made from the same chocolate, Chateau Civrac 2006 wine and organic caster sugar to add a bit of sweetness. There’s no dairy in there – the wine and sugar is used in place of cream in the ganache.
I’m not the world’s biggest wine drinker, and I was a bit worried that the combination of wine and extra sugar would be a little much. But of course, Paul knows exactly what he’s doing and the flavour combination is just perfect, and these are actually quite subtle chocolates.
The wine flavours really come through, but without any extra sweetness. There’s no alcoholic kick to the ganache either – it’s all about the flavour and wonderfully smooth, soft texture. I have no idea how he manages to create that with just wine, sugar and chocolate.
The Madagascan chocolate, of course, complements the wine perfectly. We’ve talked about how sweet and fruity Madagascan chocolate can be here many times, but perhaps the surprising thing is that the majority of the fruity flavours come from the chocolate itself, rather than the wine.
Once again, Paul A. Young has created something wonderful with ingredients that look incredibly simple. At £3.95 each, they’re not cheap, but the exceptional quality means you’re getting good value. As with all Paul’s fresh chocolates, they have a very short shelf life, so if you’re buying them for Christmas, you should wait a month, then pop into one of his London shops. I think I’ll be buying a few for my family, but it’s going to take will power and determination not to eat them all myself.