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ELEMENTARY my

dear taster!

consulting with members about the future of the Solid Chocolate Selection.

As promised, this month we reveal the exciting new changes to the Solid Chocolate Selection – the result of our unique chocolate democracy in action! As you well know, we’re not your average, run of the mill kind of club. Amongst other things, the fact that your scores and comments influence

future selections means we’re always alert to the opinions of members, which keeps us flexible and fluid. And over the past few months we’ve been

The democratic power of chocolate We were prompted by many comments and requests from members and the fact that not as many members took up the Solid Selection as our research would have suggested. Two years ago, over 30% of members indicated that they would prefer a selection without alcohol, which was the key feature of the Solid Selection, which was launched in 2007. It would seem, however, that in practice, only a minority of that 30% preferred solid chocolate as well. Our recent survey into the matter, whose results we reported last month, sealed the deal. The overwhelming continued on page 3...


Dear Club Members

W

elcome to your latest edition of Club News! This month’s lead story is all about the launch of our new Elements tasting selection. It’s the result of many comments and requests from members, as well as the recent survey, which attracted 3,000 responses – true chocolate democracy in action. It will be replacing the Solid Chocolate Selection during March, so not long to wait now! And speaking of democracy, we reveal the winners of the Members’ Choice Awards that will feature in the soon to be released Excellence Collections – which you can find on page 8. Also this month we launch the much-anticipated Create a Chocolate Competition, which is definitely one of the high points of my chocolate tasting year. For the uninitiated, this is your chance to not only create a chocolate recipe, but also have it made up and included in a monthly selection – if you’re one of our winners that is! So let your imaginations run free and turn to page 7 for all the details.

Excellence Members’ Choice Awards revealed on page 8

And finally, there’s news of an exciting competition to win tickets to the BAFTAs on page 6, as well as the latest news from St Lucia – which involves an all-terrain truck and lots of wood chippings… Until next month, happy tasting!

Favourite Facebook Moments Seeing that long flat box waiting for me is almost as good as the oooh’s that follow as it gets opened, but the best is that first taste... bliss. Hazel Willby

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Simon Thirlwell Editor

Send your letters to The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or simply email me on simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk We are waiting to hear from you!


Continued from page one... response from members was that the box should remain nonalcoholic, but that we also needed to include some filled chocolates, along with solid chocolate slabs and other exciting, bite-sized ‘bits and bobs’. Taking on board all that you asked for, we’ve been busy creating a brand new selection box and without further ado, here it is! Hello Elements! So, the new tasting box will be replacing the Solid Chocolate Selection during March and it is to be called Elements. Here’s what Angus has to say about it, “The name Elements really sums up our approach to this new tasting selection – concentrating on the key essentials that make chocolate tasting such an enjoyable experience, using simple recipes that really let the prime flavours of cocoa shine through.” The most significant change is that Elements will feature two each of six filled chocolates, although they’ll always be alcohol-free. And the first lucky candidates will be dreamy caramel praline; a deep chocolate mousse; an Excellence award winner with gorgeous florentine; a brand new runny caramel recipe; a fruity praline; and an intriguing new creation that features coconut, lime and macadamia nuts.

The iconic Rocky Road -- one of our biggest selling slabs of all time features in the first Elements box.

Of course, no Tasting Selection would be complete without our exclusive and ever popular tasting batons and Elements is no exception – there’ll be two sets of batons as per the Classic and Dark Selections. Finally, although we have reduced the number of slabs that will feature in Elements, we haven’t jettisoned them altogether – there’ll now be two in each box, starting with a classically creamy, Forastero blend milk chocolate and the stunningly popular Rocky Road Slab. So there you have it, a brand new tasting selection that has been requested, shaped and created by our unique chocolate democracy!

Please note

The Solid Chocolate Selection will be replaced by Elements during March at the usual price of £17.95. Existing Solid Chocolate tasters will be sent automatically the new Elements box according to your existing delivery schedule, unless you instruct us otherwise of course. If you’re a Classic or Dark taster and you’d like to see what Elements is all about, then why not give it a try? You can order a special one-off Elements selection by calling 08444 933 933 quoting box reference S32. Your existing delivery schedule will be unaffected. 3


CLASSIC

SELECTIoN - D116

DARK

SELECTIoN - K49

SoLID

SELECTIoN - S27

1. Lemon Truffle by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.38 (33% scored it 10/10)

1. Cointreau Custard by K Kalenko 8.43 (29% scored it 10/10)

1. Light Caramel Tasting Batons 8.56 (29% scored it

2. Pistachio Praline by EJ Whalley 8.13 (23% scored it 10/10)

2. Lemon Truffle by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.35 (30% scored it 10/10)

2. Tanzania Milk Tasting Batons 8.35 (25% scored it

3. Coffee Kick by O Nicod 8.12 (27% scored it 10/10)

3. 80% Uganda Dark Batons 8.25 (23% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

4. Champagne Challenge No 2 by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.11

4. Champagne Challenge No 2

4. Spooksville 8.11

by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.24 (33% scored it 10/10)

(29% scored it 10/10)

5. Coffee Kick by O Nicod 8.17

(27% scored it 10/10)

(28% scored it 10/10)

5. Tanzania Milk Batons 8.10 (17% scored it 10/10)

(38% scored it 10/10)

6. Light Caramel Batons 8.09

6. Champagne Challenge No 1 by M Meier 8.12

(23% scored 10/10)

(24% scored it 10/10)

7. Zesty Mousse Manon by JC Vandenberghe 8.04

7. Pistachio Praline by EJ Whalley 8.04 (17% scored it 10/10)

(19% scored it 10/10)

8. Champagne Challenge No 1 by M Meier 8.03 (27% scored it 10/10)

9. Cointreau Custard by K Kalenko 7.98 (26% scored it 10/10)

10. Bonnie Drambuie by E Desmet 7.95 (21% scored it 10/10)

11. Genever Cup by K Kalenko 7.95 (22% scored it 10/10) 12. Coconut Caress by R Macfadyen 7.90 (22% scored it 10/10)

13. Cinnamon Seduction by R Macfadyen 7.80 (18% scored it 10/10)

14. Salted Almond Caramel by J Berryman & M Meier 7.67 (18% scored it 10/10)

15. Peanut Bite by R Macfadyen 7.16 (11% scored it 10/10) 4

8. Salted Almond Caramel by J Berryman & M Meier 8.02 (13% scored it 10/10)

9. Genever Cup by K Kalenko 8.00 (25% scored it 10/10) 10. Coconut Caress by R Macfadyen 7.95 (14% scored it 10/10) 11. Bonnie Drambuie by E Desmet 7.91 (24% scored it

10/10)

10/10)

3. Boo 8.30 (25% scored it

5. Raspberry Fusion 7.93 6. Peanut Bite 7.35 (13% scored it 10/10)

7. Peppermint Sweetheart 7.34 (18% scored it 10/10) 8. Cinnamon Crunch 7.06 (16% scored it 10/10)

9. Spiced orange 6.96 (16% scored it 10/10)

BOUQUET Raspberry Fusion “Absolutely yummy... we fought over this one!” Christine Townsend, Kidlington.

10/10)

12. Zesty Mousse Manon by JC Vandenberghe 7.82 (18% scored it 10/10) 13. Cinnamon Seduction by R Macfadyen 7.58 (16% scored it 10/10) 14. Peanut Bite by R Macfadyen 7.31 (10% scored it 10/10)

BOUQUET Cointreau Custard “A nice, round 10. Perfect balance, I would have never imagined I’d give a 10 to something with ‘custard’ in the name!” Lucia Burgio, London.

BRICKBATS Genever Cup “I couldn’t get anyone to eat a whole one of these, the gin was more like a tsunami than a ‘splash’!” Lorna Hanson, Manchester.


the CHAMPAGNE truFFle challenge! This month sees the results of the Champagne Truffle Challenge that featured in Classic and dark tasting selections – and we reveal the chocolatiers behind them. BOUQUET Champagne Challenge No 2 “Gorgeous - very difficult to choose between this and No 1 but No 2 just managed to be slightly more yummy!” Margaret Dixon, London. Champagne truffles are one of the great classic recipes. And, as such, just about every chocolatier worth his salt will have his own special recipe – which often sparks great rivalry... So what better way to resolve the issue than to pit two recipes against each other in one tasting box? It has to be said that both recipes performed well and there really wasn’t much in it. However, there was a winner by unanimous decision from both Classic and Dark tasters and it was truffle number

BRICKBATS Peanut Bite “Nothing has yet persuaded me to like peanuts in chocolate - the challenge still stands...” Sarah Greaves, Ripon. 2 – which we can now reveal was made by Messrs Coppeneur & Bernardini. Truffle number 1,

Lemon Truffle had enough zest to top the chart!

meanwhile, which came just behind, was made by truffle specialist Matthias Meier. Interestingly, the winning recipe was the less traditional of the two, with a slight hint of strawberry added to the soft cream and marc de champagne ganache. While the second placed truffle was a mellow take on the classic recipe, with a light ganache, a good splash of marc de champagne and a creamy milk chocolate shell.

BOUQUET Champagne Challenge No 1 “What a treat! Four of my favourite chocolates! This one definitely my favourite, delicate flavours, classic recipe and just the right amount of alcohol. Louise Coultish, Leeds. Clearly members preferred a slight fruity twist in their Champagne Truffles this time round. Perhaps we can persuade two more chocolatiers to enter the fray and go head-to-head with another classic recipe…? 5


and this year’s BAFTA Goes to… Well, it could be you actually! That’s to say, you could win a pair of tickets to go to the glamorous British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, 21st February. Hotel Chocolat have teamed up with orange to offer two VIP tickets for the lucky winner and a date to attend the orange British Film Academy Awards. The Golden Tickets will be concealed in one of Hotel Chocolat’s Valentine’s Day gifts, along with nine runners’ up prizes too, between 15th January and Valentine’s Day. The main prize includes:

• • • • • •

A pair of tickets to attend the Awards VIP drinks reception your chance to walk the red carpet Access to the official grandstand to view all the red carpet action Black tie dinner in Covent Garden one night’s stay at a London hotel plus UK travel to and from London

The orange British Academy Film Awards will be held at the Royal opera House, Covent Garden on 21st February and you can also vote for the next orange Rising Star – the only BAFTA voted for by the public. see the hotel chocolat Valentine’s Day range at www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/ valentines

Good luck!

WHAT’S in a name? As preparations get underway for the launch of the Swedish Tasting Club, we’ve noticed a marked difference in the approach to language. In Germany they have decided to rename the Club ‘San Coa’, but have elected to keep the chocolate names in their original English. In Sweden, however, the Chocolate 6

Tasting Club name remains while the individual chocolate names have been translated into Swedish. Just to see how they’re managing with some of the more challenging names, we got hold of a few translations... So Caramel Hush has become Kolagömma, Hazel Macnutty

reverts to the more literal sounding Hasselnöt Makadamia but just try to get your tongue around Kolamjölkchokladstång, otherwise known as Caramel Tasting Batons. Some things, it seems, simply cannot be translated as we’ve managed to completely stump them with Single Malt Smoothie!


Create your own chocolate! Sharpen your pencils and get those creative juices flowing – it’s time to unveil our annual Create a Chocolate Competition! If you’ve recently joined the Club, then you may well be wondering what we’re talking about. Well, this is the moment that you get to show us just how creative you are, by designing your own chocolate and submitting your idea to Club Founder Angus Thirlwell and his tasting panel – who will then judge the entries and select the winners.

Your chocolate in the monthly tasting box Each winning entry will then be made up by one of our chocolatiers and will feature in a monthly tasting selection. That means it will be assessed and scored by your fellow members, which is nail biting stuff, as any of our featured chocolatiers will tell you! And what’s more, each winner will also receive a whopping 5kg of their chocolate to share with friends and family. Winning recipes come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be afraid to unleash your

creativity! And you needn’t feel constrained by your choice of tasting selection either – filled or solid, milk, dark or white and any ingredients that may take your fancy are all up for consideration. The world is your oyster, though we’re not sure seafood is a viable option… Please send your design and description to us, using the form below, to arrive no later than 15th March please! Terms and conditions do apply – please see www.chocs. co.uk/createchoc for full details.

The annual create a chocolate competition Please draw your chocolate here

Your name _________________________________ Your membership number or postcode _________________________________ Name of your chocolate _________________________________ Description- please include the details of the filling and external appearance _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________ _________________________________

Send your entry to: Create a Chocolate Competition, HCTC, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL 7


The excellence wildcards revealed! Last year’s Members’ Award category was so successful that we’ve thrown it open again this year. Members have now cast their votes for three wildcard entries in the Members’ Award category – chosen from a shimmering shortlist of past superstars. And we can now reveal the results!

Classic Excellence Winner – Crème Caramel

Dark Excellence Winner – Griotte Deluxe

Solid Excellence Winner – Peel-Me-An-Orange

An unforgettable winner from six years ago, with vanilla ganache and mellow caramel.

A chocolate that has developed a cult following with a succulent kirsch soaked cherry.

Chocolate and orange are made for each other and this recipe takes it a step further!

So, with these final winners now added to the full line up of the year’s superstar chocolates, the wait is almost over… All that’s left is to take your seats for the chocolate event of the year – your chance to savour again the true masterpieces from the past year or discover them for the first time if you missed them. Is your Excellence Collection Reserved? Most members will be automatically eligible to receive the Excellence Collection,

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which is confirmed in early January with a notification postcard. You can also order extra boxes for deserving friends and family at www.chocs.co.uk/excellence10 or by calling 08444 933 933 but please hurry!

Favourite Facebook Moments My best Tasting Club moment will never be forgotten – it was the first time I bit into a champagne truffle. Wow. Sylvie Horwood


Favourite Facebook Moments Best moment? Easy! Opening my first box of tasting club chocolates. No looking back now! John Callaghan

Dear SANTA… Christmas in St Lucia is a very different experience to the traditional British affair – with masquerade street parties, processions, music, rum and, of course, lots of tropical sunshine. And when it came to Christmas presents our Estates Director, Phil Buckley, wasn’t hard to buy for at all… Top of his Christmas wish list this year was an all-terrain Unimog vehicle with a matching industrial strength wood chipper. As you can see from the photos, his wish came true! The Unimog has quickly become an essential piece of kit on Rabot Estate – its incredible all-terrain capabilities allowing it to access previously inaccessible

A Christmas wish come true – the Unimog in action with the wood chipper behind

parts of the plantation and, crucially, where it goes the wood chipper can follow. The benefits of being able to make wood chippings might not seem that important to those non-gardeners among us, but their effects will be felt across the estate. Firstly, the chippings will help control weeds in and around the cocoa trees. In a tropical environment weeds can quickly get out of control, competing with the cocoa

for nutrients and even smothering them. Secondly, the wood chippings provide an entirely organic fertiliser that slowly releases its nutrients back into the soil. The journey to St Lucia also represents a new lease of life for the Unimog, which had reached the end of its ‘useful life’ with a borough council here in the UK. Not a bad place to start your second career!

The working end of the Unimog! 9


Don’t forget… Your chance to win a trip to St Lucia! As exclusively revealed last month, you could well be on your way to St Lucia in 2010 – staying in one of our exclusive Cocoa Lodges. They’re nestled in amongst 140-acres of cocoa trees on our historic cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate. How do you enter? All you need to do is keep enjoying your tasting selections, as all active members on 31st January 2010 will be automatically entered into the competition. This prize draw currently forms part of our marketing for new members to join the Club. And because we’re not one of those companies that reserves things ‘For new customers only’, we’re opening up the prize to all of our members. So, everyone who is a member on 31st January will be included in the prize draw that will take place in February with the results announced at the end of the month. What can you win? Rest and relaxation… exploring the plantation and its history-soaked surroundings… cooling off in the pool… and taking in the stunning views dominated by the Piton peaks are all included in the prize, as well as:

• • •

7 nights full board for two people All flights and transfers And £500 spending money

Good luck! 10


in the POSTBAG… We kick off this month’s postbag round up with a letter from Kim Allison who originally thought of writing to us to declare her love of our Peruvian chocolate slabs. However, it was then that she read about the limited edition Hotel Chocolat Steiff bear and she wanted to tell us her story – though we have waited until after Christmas to publish the letter, for reasons that will become obvious…

“Three years ago my grandfather died, leaving my brother and I broken hearted. My grandfather’s name was George and he was the kindest man you could ever meet and his death was very unexpected. My brother collects Steiff bears and has assembled a lovely collection. To commemorate my grandfather my mother and I have reserved ‘George’ to give to my brother, Simon, for his Christmas. We felt that he deserves a little of our George back in his life.” It sounds like George the Steiff bear has found the perfect home! And speaking of unexpected gifts, Breege Clynes wrote to tell us of a surprise from her father that arrived at just the right moment, “I was having a hard morning trying to get the kids to do anything when I heard the thud of something coming through the letterbox.” She discovered a slim box protruding through the letterbox with her name on it. “I lifted the lid and looked and smelt all those lovely chocolates, then had to quickly

close it again as my 3 and 2 year old girls wandered into the kitchen to see what Mummy was up to.” With the children safely in bed she could finally taste the chocolates. “My only wish is that I could have had more restraint and made the box last a little bit longer. Thank you Dad, that was such a lovely surprise!” And finally, Jenny Slack has other reasons to be pleased. “I just wanted to thank you for turning me from someone who has always hated the coffee chocolate in the box to someone who will fight to the death for a coffee truffle, praline or ganache!” Don’t forget that every letter we publish receives THREE free Tasting Boxes! Contact us by email – simon@hotelchocolat. co.uk or by post at The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL.

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THIS MONTH’S PRIZE DRAW WINNERS

Classic Selection prize draw

winner is Classic Selection prize draw winner is Mr M Heather from Feltham who wins a Midnight Mints Selection. Next month’s prize is a White Adventure – our favourite creamy white chocolate recipes with a few exciting twists.

Dark Selection

prize draw winner is Miss Amanda Green from Oxford who wins a Dark Adventure. Next month’s prize is a Serious Dark Fix – a gorgeous collection of 32 of our deepest, darkest chocolates.

dON’T MISS YOuR FREE CHOCOLATE! As part of our current marketing, we’re offering new Tasting Club members two gorgeous gifts to go with their first tasting box. And because we feel that whatever is offered to new members should also be offered to existing members, we’ll be sending them to you too – an exclusive Cocoa Growers Slab cast in 40% cocoa milk chocolate and a sachet of our authentic drinking chocolate, Liquid Chocolat. So, your March monthly tasting box will have a couple of extras to look forward to and that goes for everyone – Classic, Dark and Solid Chocolate members too. Not one to miss!

Solid Chocolate prize draw winner is Mrs Alison Howkins of Coventry who wins a Caramellow Giant Slab. Next month’s prize is a Fruit & Nut Milk Slab – succulent fruit meets crunchy nuts in mellow milk chocolate.

Yours FREE – the Cocoa Growers Slab and Liquid Chocolat!

don’t forget - you can score by post or online at www.chocs.co.uk Write to us at: The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL Email: simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk or via our website: www.chocs.co.uk Club News: Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Lynn Cunningham, Terry Waters. © The Chocolate Tasting Club Limited 2009


The Chocolate Tasting Club News - D119 January 2010