I happened to be in Islington the other day, and as I had a birthday present or two to buy, I thought I’d visit Paul A. Young’s shop and check out what he’s been up to lately. With a constantly changing array of flavours on offer I knew I’d be able to find something delightful for my recipient, and when I came across this bar – labeled “Paul’s Favourite” I just had to give it a try. After all, who wouldn’t want to know which flavours are exciting the palate of a bona fide chocolate wizard?
I’m no stranger to the unlikely pairing of tree and cocoa, having sampled Christmas Tree flavoured chocolate and chocolate with cedar sap but I must confess to being surprised by the notion of sandalwood. For me it has connotations of soaps and incense, not fine chocolate, but we are talking Paul A. Young chocolate here, so there’s something of a guarantee that I’d be in for a pleasant surprise.
The chocolate is Paul’s 66% dark single bean chocolate, and the sandalwood flavour comes from organic essential oil. As the chocolate already has certain woody tastes to it, I found the essential oil added a light, aromatic top note which is evident when you smell this bar. In among the dark cocoa scents sits a sweeter, exotic aroma which hints at more complex flavours.
Rather than coming across as ‘perfumey’ the addition of sandalwood makes for a gently fragrant, almost lightly spicy aroma and flavour which sits well with the bittersweet cocoa. Certainly not what I had expected at all, but there again a lot of what Paul does confounds one’s expectations. As the chocolate melts and the flavours are released the sandalwood is always there but in a complimmentary way – it never marches all over the chocolate. In short it’s another well balanced pairing of flavours done Paul A. Young style.
It would be wrong to say I enjoyed it more than I expected to, because with the possible exception of Paul’s Marmite truffle (because I am not a Marmite lover) I have yet to wrinkle my nose at any of his creations. What I would say is that the adventurous palate will always be rewarded by a visit to Paul’s shop, and that I will definitely be trying anything else I see with ‘Paul’s Favourite’ writen on it.