A Dom mentioned, we didn’t get a comprehensive list of what we had been given (poor work on our part) but there are some outstanding items here.
These are some seriously good chocolates. As you can see, the paper cases reflect the house colours of Paul’s shop – a rich, regal purple. Without exception the fillings are whisper-light, rich and bursting with flavour. You can tell that they’re made fresh on the premises – the chocolate has a fantastic fresh aroma and in particular the fruit and floral flavours used in some of the chocolates have an intensity that can only come from using fresh, top quality ingredients.
Among the selection I had was a Rose and Geranium cream. As soon as I bit into it there was a rush of rose flavour, reminiscent of Turkish Delight but without the cloying sweetness. Instead the floral bouquet was supported by rich, dark, buttery chocolate flavours. It was like an über-posh version of Cocoa Bean’s Rose milk chocolate, and I loved every second of it.
Another little wonder was the Woodford Bourbon chocolate. A caramel-coloured centre held a dark, well rounded bourbon whiskey flavour without the expected alcoholic overtones. Caramel for an adult palate with delightfully spicy bourbon notes – another winner.
The Passion Fruit and Vanilla was bursting with summery fruit flavours. The balance between citrus, vanilla and dark chocolate was exquisite. The initial bittersweet chocolate hit vanished under a wave of passion fruit which was in turn tempered by a hint of vanilla. Unlike some chocolates that attempt to fuse cittrus with cocoa and fail (a certain German Passion Fruit bar springs to mind) this creation held the balance throughout
What impresses about these chocolates isn’t just the freshness of the ingredients and their incredible flavours, it’s also the craftsmanship with which they’ve been put together. The shells are thick and crisp, dark and rich and in contrast the centres are almost impossibly light and buttery. Mr. Young is obviously a very skilled gentleman.
My three slabs are (were!)
A white chocolate slab with sencha green tea. I was a big fan of the Dolfin Green Tea bar I received last year, but this is a completely different animal. The green tea is quite brittle and ‘twiggy’ on the palate, giving an unusual texture. For me, the green tea flavours sat well with the cocoa butter flavours, but it was still very white chocolate, and the ‘bittyness’ of the tea leaves was more of a distraction than a pleasure – for me at least.
I’d say this was an acquired taste.
My second slab was a 64% dark chocolate slab with Maldon sea salt, and it was a delight. Deep, well rounded dark cocoa flavours with a tang of salt make a devastating combination. My mouth was watering within seconds of trying this little slab, and I’m very pleased (if a little ashamed) to say that it led a short life.
The best was definitely last.
For his Sea Slated Caramel slab Paul has used the 64% dark chocolate, but the caramel is made using Valrhona Jivara milk chocolate, and ‘caramel’ doesn’t even come close to describing what lies at the heart of this bar.
A practically liquid, lightly salted and hugely chocolatey confection which had me laughing to myself and shaking my head in wonderment. This is a seriously addictive piece of confectionery, believe me. Nothing short of a masterpiece – stunning.
It’s pretty safe to say that Mr. Young is operating at the top end of the chocolate market. His creations are hovering somewhere between alchemy and art, and any serious lover of anything cocoa-based would be insane not to try some of these. I consider myself a very lucky Chocabloke indeed.
For more information on Paul A. Young and his shops, take a look at his web site.