When faced with a wall of chocolate in a shop, most of which is unfamiliar, it is hard to know which ones to buy. My head says I should go for a flavour which I either like a lot or have never had before, but my heart usually goes in a completely different direction. I adore cool or unique packaging. I would love to say that it was my instinctive knowledge of quality chocolate that first drew me to Valrhona Chocolate, but really I just liked the black tin with the 18 little identically wrapped squares inside.
And that’s why I made a beeline to the Zaabär chocolate on the shelf – it just looked really cool. I didn’t know anything about the company, who turn out to be Belgian, but the lovely silvery boxes with their embossed scrollwork appealed to me. Then it just became a question of which varieties to pick up and I decided on the Ginger and the Star Anise from the not insubstantial Zaabär range which also includes Lemongrass, Curry and Coriander. I played it relatively safe in comparison.
The packaging is even better than I imagined. The box opens up like a book, with a small bar in each half. And better still, the bars are vacuum-sealed in foil pouches making them seem even more exotic and exciting. Basically, I was won over before I even tasted the damned stuff.
As it turns out though, the chocolate is rather good too. Tearing open a pouch lets the powerful aroma out, especially in the case of the Star Anise which initially smells so overwhelming that I was worried that there wouldn’t be much room left for the chocolate which is only 55.9% cocoa solids. Not that dark, but it turns out to be dark enough to balance out the aniseed ensuring that things never get too liquorishy. I am also a fan of the little crunchy pieces of the star anise scattered throughout.
The ginger bar is a bit more subtle, but still delicious. The chocolate takes to the stage first, but the ginger arrives soon after and builds up nicely thanks to the tiny pieces distributed through the chocolate. And even better, it keeps building to the point of tongue tingling and that, to me, is the perfect amount of ginger.
So maybe I do have good instincts after all because Zaabär chocolate is well worth checking out and that’s something I want to do in more depth after seeing the full range on their website. If they can deal with some of their more unusual ingredient choices as well as they do with this duo then they really could be a company to keep an eye on.