Whittaker’s chocolates have been made in Wellington New Zealand since 1896 and they are the only manufacturers in the land of sheep, hillsides and hobbits to start the process from scratch by roasting their own cocoa beans.
We Aussies have enjoyed their wares since 1992 and, like all things Kiwi that are worthy and successful, we Australians tend to adopt them as our own (see Crowded House, Peter Jackson, and sometimes Russell Crowe). However in the case of Whittaker’s, they are still a relatively shy brand here in the land of big backyards and blow flies, and it is not always easy to find.
Occasional scarcity has never put me off the hunt. I have always loved their plain milk and dark chocolate blocks and was thrilled to see their Dark Chocolate Orange 250g at the local supermarket. This quarter-kilo slab of heaven is made with their delicious bittersweet dark chocolate that has a cocoa content of 47% and is generously studded with generous chunks of soft, chewy crystallised orange peel.
For some reason, apart from the ubiquitous and rather dreary Terry’s Chocolate Oranges that are flung around at Christmas time, a decent dark choc’n’orange block is hard to come by. This has always puzzled me. I’m still wondering why Jaffas sweets are so popular here when they seem to consist of compounded chocolate with the faintest whiff of laboratory orange flavour coated in solidified chalk, and are about as enticing as crunching on a ten year old moth ball.
Therefore, it was with great anticipation that I unwrapped the self-proclaimed ‘Zestful’ block. This combination of dark chocolate and subtle orange oils is a superb pairing. I know that all good and sensible chocolate lovers (and reviewers) should leave a square on their tongue for a at least a few moments to enable a decent tango with the taste buds, but it was impossible NOT to enthusiastically chew through the softish chocolate in order to reach the orange. Crikey, it was hard enough reminding myself to stop inhaling the stuff in time to take a picture of some of it!
Whittaker’s is the kind of ‘quiet achiever’ brand that Cadbury should be nervous about. They are more authentic and much more skilled at pairing additional fillings and flavours with much better quality chocolate and additional ingredients. And they are more than welcome to become an adopted Aussie icon any time.