This is another in Stainer’s ‘spice’ selection, and probably the one that had me the most intrigued when I read what the ‘Marrakech Mixture’ constituted.
This is a 70% dark chocolate bar with a mixture of Green Tea, Nanah Mint, Wormwood and Shiba added to it. No I’m no stranger to Green Tea in chocolate, and I’ve had my share of Moroccan mint tea, but Wormwood? Isn’t that what they used to put in Absinthe? Doesn’t it make you go crazy?
Well, apparently not. According to Wikipedia:
“It is an ingredient in the liquor absinthe, and also used for flavouring in some other spirits and wines, including bitters, vermouth and pelinkovac. It is also used medically as a tonic, stomachic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, febrifuge and anthelmintic. In the Middle Ages it was used to spice mead.”
But when I looked up Shiba, I was informed that
“Shiba, or absinthe is illegal in some countries because of its stimulative drug properties. However, in Morocco it is a popular repacement for mint in tea during the winter when mint is out of season.”
So this chocolate apparently contains two of the herbal ingredients used in absinthe. Luckily for me it tastes nothing like Venchi’s Absinthe Bar. Quite the contrary in fact.
I would have been surprised not to have tasted mint when I popped a square of this into my mouth, but it isn’t “minty” mint like the Skelligs Mint Brittle. This is a softer, more subtle herbal mint tempered with the other ingredients. It’s a gentle, almost palate-warming sensation with woody, darker overtones and a distinctly floral end taste. It’s an intriguing set of flavours, at one point quite minty, at others almost like elderflower, but always contained within the dark cocoa and vanilla of the 70% cocoa chocolate.
I really like this bar. It has none of the taste connotations of some other unusual bars. It doesn’t come across as a wacky idea put out for sale as a novelty item, and it doesn’t taste like anything I’ve had before. This is (to date) the bar that makes me wish there was a Stainer franchise in the UK, so I could buy it for my friends and fellow chocolate lovers.
If you see this one, grab it. I know I’ll be buying more if I ever see it again.