Who doesn’t like surprises (pleasant ones anyway)? So how lovely to have postie knock on my door and hand me this box of Fairtrade chocolates from Plush.
I haven’t heard of Plush before, and a glance at the website told me that the brand was started by two women who met at Oxfam a few years ago. When they decided on a career change, Plush was born – a chocolate company that uses Fairtrade cocoa from Ivory Coast (notorious for cocoa harvested using slave labour) and sugar from Paraguay. The chocolates themselves are made by both British and Belgian chocolatiers and have been chosen after strenuous research on the part of the Plush ladies. (Tough work, eh girls?). Even the packaging is environmentally friendly – cornstarch trays which are biodegradable and recyclable card box and liners. Full marks for ethics then.
As for the chocolates themselves, the dark chocolate is a 70% cocoa blend, the milk chocolate is a healthy 36% and the white chocolate is 30% cocoa butter.
On to the tasting then…
A dark chocolate ganache with cranberry was first choice. The dark chocolate exterior was quite thin and delivered some very good cocoa flavours before melting away to release the delicately fruity, slightly floral taste of the ganache. I’m not sure I’d be able to identify it as cranberry, but it was certainly a very tasty little number – very soft in the mouth and with a good, clean finish.
The first of the milk chocolates, the caramel filling was rich, gooey and not too sweet. Delicious flavours which blended well with the milk chocolate shell. Having disposed of the upper part of the shell and the filling, I was left with a decent sized disc of milk chocolate to consider. It had some very pleasant, straightforward cocoa flavours. Nothing too complex, but of course there’s no need when the chocolate is being paired with a rich caramel.
This rather attractive leaf shaped milk chocolate began to flood my mouth with almond flavours within seconds of being eaten. It put me very much in mind of a more sophisticated version of Quality Street’s green triangle. Great nutty flavours and more of tat hearty milk chocolate taste. Delicious and very moreish.
More nuttiness here, with a crunchy texture hidden in the velvety smooth interior. Oodles of hazelnut flavours combined with the robust milk chocolate flavours. Excelllent mouthfeel and another smooth finish.
Having disposed of the milk chocolates, I decided to attack the only white chocolate in the box – a coffee creation.
One thing was certain. This wasn’t going to be anything like my new favourite coffee chocolate! The inside was a creamy beige colour and reminded me of the coffee made with milk I used to enjoy when I was much younger. The tatse was pretty much the same as well. Light, not too powerful coffee sweetened by the white chocolate shell with a dark counterpoint provided by the dark chocolate ‘coffee bean’ on top. Pretty good for a coffee chocolate, especially one made with white chocolate!
Made with hazelnuts and almonds and topped with crushed caramelised nut pieces, the Gianduja was more than just a ‘darker, deeper’ version of the preceding two nut chocolates. The blending of the nuts made for a more complex set of tastes, more so when coupled with the nut pieces. Smooth, rich and loaded with nutty flavours, I found it to be so much richer than the other two and also a little sweeter on the finish due to the caramelised nut fragments.
The final ‘flavoured’ chocolate was this coconut offering. Dark chocolate wrapped around a creamy coconut filling. Not as sweet as the Sainsbury’s Limited Edition coconut bar I tried a while back, and with more coconut inside, it delivered masses of flavour which gave way to a lovely bittersweet finish as the last of the dark chocolate shell melted away. It’s still quite rare to come across coconut chocolates, and this one was a definite winner.
Finally, a piece of 70% cocoa dark chocolate ganache. A chance to taste the ‘pure’ flavours of the chocolate that had been used to wrap the preceding offerings. Had I saved the best for last? It certainly wasn’t lacking in punch. A hearty, bittersweet chocolate coating which revealed another supersoft ganache filling which was slightly sweeter but still reflected the prevailing flavours of the cocoa beans used.
All of these Plush chocolates had incredibly soft, luscious fillings. Light, flavoursome, and bursting with cocoa flavours. The choice of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast means that the overall cocoa flavours are not too complex, allowing the other flavours room to come through without any conflict on the palate. My three co-tasters all agreed that they would happily buy this selction either as a gift or a little indulgence, and I would recommend them to those of you who’d like a treat with a heart.
This collection of chocolates will please anyone who enjoys a good quality selection and obviously being Fairtrade you know that the producers are getting a good deal out of them as well.
Look at the Plush website and you’ll see that these aren’t the cheapest of chocolates, but Fairtrade isn’t about that, and obviously the price reflects that. There are smaller boxes available too, so you won’t have to fork out about £20 in order to sample some of the Plush ladies’ wares! At around 50p per chocolate they are up there in the premium price band, but I think they still represent value for money, and I personally believe tha more Fairtrade goods is never a bad thing. A great Christmas treat or birthday present for anone who appreciates good quality chocolates with ethics.