One of the last stalls I visited at the South Bank Chocolate Festival was being run by Raffaella Baruzzo and it was home to a myriad of cellophane bags containing all manner of brightly coloured sweets and numerous chocolate confectionery. Too many to take in all at once, in fact.
Having introduced myself to Raffaella I was mildly surprised to find that she was a fan of Chocablog, so there was much smiling and friendly banter, more so when we were joined by Yael Rose, organiser of the festival. But that, as they say, is another story. While casting an eye over the contents of Rafaella’s stall, my attention was drawn to a bag of what could only have been either orange or lemon slices in dark chocolate. I was right.
“These are lemon. Made with Sicilian lemons.” Raffaella told me in an Italian accent as rich and dark as I hoped her chocolate would be. “Would you like to try one?”
The chocolate is indeed dark, semi-sweet, with a slight bitter edge giving way to a quick-melting softness which is an ideal prelude to the lemon. Ah yes – the lemon.
Think about your crystallised fruit experiences to date. The fruit generally becomes somewhat stiff, and there’s usually a fair amount of sugar to deal with, yes? Well, this is not the case here. Imagine a fresh, bright citrus lemon with a real burst of flavour but very little acidity. Imagine that it’s still soft on the underside, with the peel retaining much of it’s original texture. It’s sweet but not too sweet, and there is barely a sign of sugar crystals. The end result is a hit of dark chocolate rapidly followed (and then joined by) a summer fresh burst of soft, almost delicate lemon with enough depth to carry through the chocolate but barely a trace of any aggressive sharpness.
Now here’s where have a problem with this product. Have a look at the packaging. A cellophane bag, a ribbon, and a small card tag with a floral pattern on one side. What is THAT about?
There should be a label on this bag proclaiming the magnificence of the fruit used in this confection. Granted, the chocolate is also pretty good, but what sets these aside is undoubtedly the quality of the fruit. I believe I have found the lemon counterpart to those extraordinary Awaji chocolate orange slivers I was given last month. If you enjoy this sort of fruit/chocolate combination I really cannot recommend these highly enough. An absolute delight.
Needless to say I bought a bag. Now I wish I had bought two. Or maybe a whole case.