We’ve already looked at Paul A Young’s Chipotle Valentines Brownie, but now it’s time to look at his Valentine’s chocolates selection for 2013.
This year’s collection is apparently all about finding the right chocolate for the right person, hence every chocolate in the box has a different ‘personality’, from “The London Gent” to “The Hipster”. I confess to being a little confused by the concept, as it implies that you not only have nine people in your life, but also that you’re buying them a single box of chocolates to share!
Of course, all that actually matters is the chocolate. So what exactly will your nine Valentines be getting? There’s a helpful menu included in this box, and the first thing that stands out is just how many collaborations there are.
Paul loves to work with other artisan food producers to make his chocolates, and the Valentine’s collection contains collaborations with the likes of Rodda’s Cream, Tapped & Packed Coffee, The Rare Tea Company and Ginger Pig. For me, that’s reason enough to buy them!
So let’s go through them in order. The chocolates are:
The London Gent – Treacle & Black Pepper
I’m not sure why this is called The London Gent, but whatever the reason, the chocolate is delicious. A subtle treacle flavoured ganache in a dark chocolate shell. I didn’t pick up much pepper here, but I loved it just the same.
Ginger Pig Black Pudding, Beer & Ginger Biscuit
Yes, that’s black pudding. In a chocolate. It’s a flavour that has been around for a while, and obviously means this collection isn’t suitable for vegetarians. The flavour is… interesting, but it’s not my cup of tea.
Chopotle Chilli And Thames Honey
This chocolate has the same smokey edge as Paul’s chipotle brownie, but I have to admit, I wasn’t keen on the honey flavour here, and think this chocolate would have been better without it. That may be a matter of personal taste, as I’m not a big fan of honey in chocolate anyway. I did like the heat that built toward the end though.
Love Potion Florals
I’m not usually a fan of florals in chocolate – I find flavours like jasmine often end up tasting a little like soap to me. But this chocolate is delicious. There’s a hint of rose combined with other delicate floral hints that I can’t quite put my finger on – but I do know I enjoyed it. Maybe I do like florals after all. I never did find out what the ‘love potion’ ingredient was though.
Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream, Raspberry Champagne & Rose
The heart-shaped chocolate in the centre of the box is like a sophisticated turkish delight. That rose flavour works wonderfully with the smooth cream ganche, and the raspberry Champagne just provides a tangy hint that cuts through the sweetness.
Tapped And Packed Espresso Bean Martini
Tapped And Packed is an independent coffee chain with three shops in London. It’s where the hipsters hang out and drink espressos, while talking about their iPhones and eating cake. I’ve no doubt they’ll be eating these chocolates too, because they’re amazing. A strong fresh coffee flavour and a hint of alcohol from the Sipsmith gin works amazingly with the dark chocolate shell. I could definitely do with a few more of these.
The Hipster – Bourbon, Cigar Tobacco & Cocoa Nibs
I have to confess, there’s little I find more annoying and pretentious than ‘hipsters’, so it’s not a name I would have chosen for this rather delicious, sweet and spicy chocolate. It’s rather enjoyable, with a gentle heat from the tobacco leaves that builds slowly, even after the chocolate has gone.
Rare Tea Company Bergamot Tea, Orange & Lemon Curd
Tea is a popular flavour in chocolate, but a difficult one to get right. It’s so subtle that the chocolate often overwhelms it. I confess I didn’t pick up a lot of tea notes in this, but I absolutely loved the orange and lemon curd in a white chocolate ganache. They’re flavours I like anyway, and the balance is perfect here.
Indian Rose Petal Masala
This one has a very interesting flavour combination, that’s really quite nice. The white chocolate ganache lets the flavour of the masala spices and rose come to the front and is a nice counterpoint to the dark chocolate shell.
All in all, this is a great collection of chocolates. I had my own favourites, and I’m sure others will choose differently. As a whole, I don’t know that they’re particularly ‘Valentinesy’, but that just means you can buy a box for yourself without feeling guilty. They’re too good to share anyway.
Paul A Young does not currently have an online store, but if you call one of the shops, they can often arrange delivery for you.