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D120 R26 K53 S31 012951

The Truck Stops Here!

One of the great advantages of our Engaged Ethics

programme in Ghana is that, through our hands-on approach, we see for ourselves what needs to be done. As a result of our last trip to the Osuben Basin we revealed that this year’s exciting new project is to provide a small truck for our partners in Ghana – Bob, Stephen and Isaac of the Green Tropics Group. It’s so that they can get around safely and deliver seedlings and equipment to very difficult to reach areas. Bob, Stephen and Isaac spend a great deal of time visiting farmers and ferrying supplies around. Unfortunately, their trusty old pick-up truck has now given up the ghost and they now rely on a less appropriate vehicle that, without four-wheel drive, is

just not suited to the task. And during that last visit to Ghana we saw first hand just how

treacherous the conditions can be, especially during the rainy season – with their vehicle

Not having the right vehicle, especially in the rainy season, makes many journeys treacherous – and calls for a lot of pushing continued on page 3...


Dear Club Members

W

elcome to your latest edition of Club News. This month’s lead story is all about our major Engaged Ethics project in Ghana this year – a truck for our partners Bob, Stephen and Isaac. Ghana’s two rainy seasons play havoc with dirt roads, so this truck will be an enormous help – in allowing us to greatly extend the areas in which we can work in the Osuben Basin and beyond. And speaking of pushing boundaries, Hotel Chocolat Co-founder, Peter Harris went back to the floor recently and spent a day working in one of the busiest stores. You can read how he got along on page 10 and don’t miss next month when we hear how our very own Angus got on in Hotel Chocolat Nottingham. Apparently he chatted to quite a few Tasting Club members… Also this month you’ll see that I put life and limb on the line for you by sneaking into our chocolatiers’ closely guarded development kitchen. It was all to secure a preview of the Easter Collection and you can see what I found out on page 8.

Risking the wrath of our chocolatiers, Simon secured an Easter preview on page 8

And finally, if you haven’t entered our Create a Chocolate Competition yet, then please hurry. Just imagine, you could see your very own chocolate creation nestled in a monthly tasting box. Until next month, happy tasting!

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!

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Continued from page one... getting stuck frequently in deep potholes and skidding off rain-washed, muddy tracks. That’s why this year we’d like to buy them a truck so that they can get the job done much more efficiently and safely – and we’re not talking about anything fancy here, just a basic, hard working vehicle to stand up to the harsh driving conditions.

Reaching Parts Other Seedlings Have Never Reached Before A truck will also enable us to deliver seedlings to farmers in even the most remote areas. Many cocoa farmers in the Osuben Basin have never been able to take advantage of our seedlings programme to rejuvenate their farms because they live too far away from the nearest nursery. They cannot afford to pay for transport and it is just too far to walk whilst carrying seedlings. If you’re an avid Club News reader, you may remember that we first talked about this project last autumn. We’ve been holding back from bringing you an update until Bob, Stephen and Isaac found an appropriate truck – which they have now done. And despite the absence of an update, members have already

Robust and capable of tackling the sometimes treacherous dirt roads

responded by generously donating almost £2,000!

Would you like to help? We receive many requests from members asking how they can do more to help cocoa farmers in Ghana. So, given the overwhelming response from members who contributed to our Health Insurance and Motorbike schemes in the past, we thought we’d ask if you’d like to help. There’s still plenty of time to get involved. To buy and maintain a small truck will cost approximately £15,000, half of which we have already guaranteed. So if you’d like to be involved in the funding of the other half, we’d love to have your help! In order that all monies go directly to the appeal itself, we’ve set up a dedicated bank account in the name of the

Ghana Cocoa Farmers’ Fund. To keep things simple and to minimise bank charges, the fund can only accept donations by cheque or postal order made payable to the fund itself – we cannot accept any payments made to the Club.

How to make a donation Please make cheques & postal orders payable to: Ghana Cocoa Farmers’ Fund And send to: Cocoa Farmers, The Chocolate Tasting Club, Royston, SG8 5HL We realise that these are uncertain economic times, so any donation large or small will be gratefully received, although to minimise administration costs we request a minimum donation of £5 – thank you for your help!

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CLASSIC

SELECTION - D117

1. Minty Irish Cream by R Macfadyen 8.29 (27% scored it 10/10)

2. Banana Split by R Macfadyen 8.24 (29% scored it 10/10)

3. Plum in Caramel by E Desmet 8.24 (32% scored it 10/10)

4. Vanilla Dream by M Meier 8.24 (25% scored it 10/10) 5. Raspberry Ripper by K Kalenko 8.23 (29% scored it 10/10)

SELECTION - K50

SOLID

SELECTION - S28

1. St Lucia Rum by K Kalenko 8.44 (32% scored it 10/10)

1. Kooky Toffee 8.69 (33%

2. Blue mountain Ganache by E Desmet 8.38 (33% scored 10/10)

2. 33% Milk Tasting Batons 8.52 (26% scored it 10/10)

3. Clementine Truffle by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.38 (30% scored it 10/10)

scored it 10/10)

4. Minty Irish Cream by R Macfadyen 8.35 (32% scored it

scored it 10/10)

3. Coco Loco 8.16 (34% 4. Chocolate Turrón 8.02 (33% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

5. White Praline Bites 7.82

5. Raspberry Ripper by K Kalenko 8.31 (23% scored it

6. Poire Belle Hélène 7.80

10/10)

(38% scored it 10/10) (39% scored it 10/10)

6. Vanilla Dream by M Meier 8.26 (17% scored it 10/10)

7. The Dark Bite 7.00 (23%

7. St Lucia Dark Tasting Batons 8.21 (24% scored it 10/10)

8. Orange & Almond Canapés 7.00 (13% scored it 10/10)

it 10/10)

8. Max Crunch by R Macfadyen 8.10 (13% scored it 10/10)

9. St Lucia Dark Tasting Batons 6.69 (10% scored it 10/10)

8. Blackberry Gateau by E Desmet 8.13 (21% scored it

9. Plum in Caramel by E Desmet 8.07 (26% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

10. African Blend Tasting Batons 8.05 (21% scored it

6. Blue mountain Ganache by E Desmet 8.22 (33% scored 10/10)

7. Max Crunch by R Macfadyen 8.20 (25% scored

9. Squirrel’s Hamper by A Gittings & JC Vandenberghe 8.07 (29% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

10. 33% Milk Tasting Batons 8.03 (23% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

11. Chocolate Turrón by G Pereira 8.00 (21% scored it

12. Banana Split by R Macfadyen 7.94 (12% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

12. Clementine Truffle by O

11. Blackberry Gateau by E Desmet 7.99 (23% scored it

10/10)

13. St Lucia Dark Tasting Batons 7.74 (14% scored it

14. Cherry Praline by O Nicod 7.90 (14% scored it 10/10)

10/10)

15. Squirrel’s Hamper by A Gittings & JC Vandenberghe 7.85 (15% scored it 10/10)

15. St Lucia Rum by K Kalenko 7.62 (22% scored it 10/10)

scored it 10/10)

BOUQUET St Lucia Rum “Superlative – deserves a score of 10++. Complex, delicious chocolate, fragrant delicate rum, didn’t know rum could taste like this, complement each other perfectly.” VJ Marrian-Hooper, Perth.

13. Chocolate Turrón by G Pereira 7.92 (14% scored it

Coppeneur & G Bernardini 7.78 (36% scored it 10/10)

14. Cherry Praline by O Nicod 7.71 (17% scored it 10/10)

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DARK

BOUQUET St Lucia Dark Batons “This chocolate has character! Did just what it said on the tin fruity, followed by a long earthy finish!” Joy Irving, Cirencester.


a talE of Two tastings

Irish eyes are smiling – this month’s Classic winner was Minty Irish Cream

THIS MoNTH’S RESULTS, more than any in recent years, have polarised opinions between tasting boxes and it’s all down to a single origin chocolate and glug or two of St Lucian rum… BOUQUET Raspberry Ripper “Superb. The contrast between the white an dark chocolate here was amazing, like coming in from the snow into a warm kitchen.” Helen Beaton, Glenrothes THE SINGLE ORIGIN chocolate in question is, of course, from St Lucia as well and the two recipes that laid bare the differences are St Lucia Rum and the St Lucia 65% Dark Tasting Batons. A glance at the scoring tables opposite will tell you the story – Classic tasters placed them last and thirteenth respectively, while Solid Chocolate tasters placed the Batons in last place. However, if you check the results from Dark tasters, you’ll see that St Lucia Rum finished in first place with the Tasting Batons in a respectable seventh position! Both chocolate recipes had one thing in common – deep, dark and earthy cocoa flavours that are typical of these Trinitario beans. St Lucia Rum also had a fairly intense rum kick

BRICKBATS St Lucia Rum “Wooh too strong for me.” C Thompson, Rochford.

too! And delving into members’ comments it’s quite clear a majority of Classic and Solid Chocolate tasters found these flavours too dark, too earthy and too intense. That said, significant minorities of Classic tasters loved them enough to award them top marks – 22% for St Lucia Rum and 14% for the St Lucia Batons.

BRICKBATS Banana Split “I guess this is a Marmite chocolate. With a score of 1 guess which camp I am in?” Amanda McKenzie, Cruden Bay. Discovering and tasting new flavours and recipes is what our Tasting Club is all about. However, this month we see that it is right for the Classic Box to be devoted to milk and white chocolate, with just a touch of dark chocolate here and there!

BOUQUET Minty Irish Cream “Didn’t think these two flavours would work together but what did I know? Amazing.” Bev Butler, Petersfield 5


ElEMENts Is Coming!

No, that’s not a grammatical error in the headline. Elements is the name of the brand new tasting box that is replacing the Solid Chocolate Selection – and it all starts next month! sO, if yOu’re an existing Solid Chocolate taster, you will be sent automatically the new Elements box at the usual price of £17.95 and according to your existing delivery schedule, unless you instruct us otherwise of course. And here’s what’s waiting for you in the first box… The most significant change is that the new Elements box will feature two each of six alcohol-free, filled chocolates. And in the first tasting box you can look 6

forward to a 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. That’s as well as two sets of our ever-popular tasting batons and two exciting chocolate slabs – a classically creamy, Forastero blend milk chocolate and the stunningly popular Rocky Road Slab.

We cAn’t WAit! 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. And if you missed last month’s Club News, you can read the full story of Elements online at www. chocs.co.uk/clubnewsd119


in the poSTBAG… THIS MONTH we devote our postbag to the online members of the ‘I ♥ The Chocolate Tasting Club’ Facebook group. We recently ran a competition to find their best moments of 2009 and here’s what they said, including our three Prize Draw winners selected at random. My best moment of the year – having a box arrive just before I had to go into hospital for an operation. Perfect timing! Eleanor Blair.

WINNER

My best Tasting Club moment is coming home from work to find a new box lying on the carpet, tearing off the wrapper and lifting up the lid... the smell of a freshly opened box of chocs is heaven for me... and I get to do it every month... ahhhhhhh. Theresa Bond I’m quite new to the Tasting Club and I’m eagerly awaiting my new box through the letterbox, but my best moment so far is the day I got my first box. I was amazed how many chocolates I loved and the fact there was two of each chocolate meant I could share them with my boyfriend without missing out myself :) Gemma Langley

WINNER

Best Chocolate Tasting Club moment of the year? Opening my Easter Egg, the aroma was fantastic, the contents delectable and the shell… pure bliss. Chris Hopkins My favourite Chocolate Tasting Club moment was tasting the caramel baton, drifting away on a soft down pillow, rolling it around and around with my tongue, languishing in its silky smooth exquisiteness, melting away drop by drop leaving me with only a memory, absolute heaven. Lila Athanaselis My best Tasting Club moment was when I purposely saved my latest box for a weekend

away. However, I didn’t get to eat a single one, despite great anticipation, as my year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier decided they smelled rather nice and helped herself to the WHOLE box in about 30 minutes whilst I was at the shops! And yes, she was VERY sick afterwards, however, she had a certain look of satisfaction across her face. Needless to say, they are now safely kept well out of her way whenever a box arrives for her own health and my comfort! Kath Haynes EDITOR’S NOTE – a lucky escape for a lucky dog! It’s the theobromine in chocolate that’s poisonous to dogs. My best moment has to be when the first of the new shaped boxes was delivered. I came home from work on the Friday – because they always seem to be delivered on a Friday – with the usual dread rising in my soul, and for the first time I didn’t find the postman’s card behind the front door. The box was there. Waiting… for me. In my own house. Not in some dingy delivery office that I can’t get to until next week. That box didn’t last out the weekend! Sarah Robb EDITOR’S NOTE – I passed your comments onto the team responsible for creating the more letterbox-friendly box. They say ‘Thank you Sarah – it makes all those efforts so worthwhile!’

WINNER

If you’d like to join us on Facebook, then you can find the I ♥ The Chocolate Tasting Club at www.chocs.co.uk/facebook 7


Simon’s Easter Preview

With the Easter Bunny limbering up on the sidelines, it’s time to unveil this year’s exclusive Tasting Club Easter Collection. Club News Editor, Simon Thirlwell, has had a sneak preview and here’s what he thought. With Christmas a dim and distant memory, our chocolatiers’ minds turn to one of the most exciting dates in the chocolate calendar, Easter. So, I took it upon myself to sneak into the development kitchen and see what they have planned for us. One for you, one for me and one for… First of all, they have three choices for us – Milk, Dark and the Mix. The first two are self explanatory, but I was intrigued to find that the Mix, with one dark and one milk shell, is often the most popular choice. But then again, given 8

the chance I think most of us like to hedge our bets! One thing they all have in common though is the extra thick chocolate shell – something that has been the hallmark of Tasting Club and Hotel Chocolat Easter eggs from the start. If you’re anything like me, then you will have eaten your fair share of Easter eggs in your time, but I can honestly say that none have compared to the impressive snap of a Tasting Club shell. Mini egg heaven! Next I managed to rummage around the freshly

made samples of the Easter chocolates that will go with the eggs. This year they’re all in mini egg moulds and I think they’ll look extremely smart when you see all 30 of them together. I started gently with a gianduja filled egg that just melted in the mouth almost immediately, then I nibbled a couple of fruity recipes with blueberry and morello cherry – very refreshing – and a gorgeous new runny caramel. Bearing in mind I’d just had my lunch, I physically couldn’t taste all of the chocolates, but I did manage to sample a few of the ganaches that were being mixed up – a classic champagne, amaretto, orange liqueur, golden rum… then feeling a bit tipsy and being frowned at by the chocolatiers, I decided to make my exit. So I’m happy to report that, following my brief incursion into the development kitchen, this year is set to be another exciting Easter for us chocolate lovers! Of course, these eggs are specially designed for the more demanding tastes of Club Members. However, you can allow ‘ordinary mortals’ to have them by ordering extras. The Tasting Club Easter Collection is now available to order – you can find more details and order online at www.chocs.co.uk/easter10 or call 08444 933 933.


LAST CHANCE to Create your own chocolate! Last month we launched our unique Create a Chocolate Competition – your chance to have your own creation brought to life by our chocolatiers and featured in a monthly tasting box. So if you haven’t put your thinking cap on yet, don’t waste another minute! Just let us have your entry for Angus and the team to consider and you could well be one of our winners – receiving a whopping 5kg of your chocolate and a coveted place in a tasting selection.

Please send your design and description to us, using the form below, to arrive no later than 15th March 2010 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 9


Back To The Floor

‘‘

If you dropped into Hotel Chocolat’s Bluewater store in the run up to Christmas, you may well have been served by our newest recruit. Co-founder Peter Harris went back to the floor and spent a day working as part of the team, we only hope you were easy on him… Here’s what Peter had to say about his day.

Did you see this man? Hotel Chocolat Co-founder, Peter Harris, on front of house duty at Bluewater.

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It was with some trepidation that I walked into Bluewater, wondering what I had let myself in for. But the manager, Victoria, and my team colleagues Rebecca, Claire, Taj and George couldn’t have been more welcoming or helpful. First on the agenda was a briefing on safety procedures where I learned, amongst many other things, that if I entered the loading bay without a yellow safety coat I would be sacked! So with the briefing over and dressed in the Hotel Chocolat uniform, I really started to feel part of the team. My duties began at the front of the store, where I was in charge of the ever-popular tasting tray. At times a small but orderly crowd gathered around me. However, the inevitable consequence was that soon those people headed towards the till to pay for the goodies they’d found. Shadowing the store manager, Victoria, I’d already seen how easy it was to operate the till, until you have to do it on your own that is... After apologising a couple of times with ‘sorry it’s my first day’ things went fairly smoothly, apart from the frequent shock of the till


drawer opening sharply at an uncomfortable height! And once I managed to give a guest their change and shut the till draw while still holding onto the guest’s money – what would Victoria say if she caught me with my hand in the till?! Thankfully it wasn’t long until the drawer opened again and I could slip the money in unnoticed. Time raced by with plenty to do – stocking shelves, the tasting tray, serving behind the tills… in no time at all it was evening and a new wave of guests flooded in looking for Christmas presents. I found interacting with the guests very motivating, they really seemed to appreciate my help and only asked me a few difficult questions. Finally, it was time to clear up. I swept the floor and then George and I mopped it so it was sparkling ready for the next day. We took the rubbish down to the yard and, yes, I did remember the yellow jacket. Victoria cashed up and the tills were spot on. Thank goodness I managed to put that money back in the till. We all left the store at 10.45pm with smiles on our faces – Hotel Chocolat at Bluewater is a great place to work.

‘‘

Don’t miss next month when Angus tells us how he got on in Nottingham!

DON’T MISS YOUR FREE GIFTS – coming

in next month’s tasting box!

Next month there’ll be two gorgeous extras tucked into your monthly tasting box – an exclusive Cocoa Growers chocolate slab and a sachet of our authentic drinking chocolate, Liquid Chocolat. That’s because it’s part of our current marketing to attract new members and we feel that it should also be offered to existing members too! Brimming with the authentic taste of cocoa, Liquid Chocolat isn’t just an intensely satisfying chocolate drink. You can also put its deep, chocolaty flavours to good use in all sorts of recipes. Here’s an exciting cocktail suggestion to get you going and you can find more chocolate-inspired recipes online at www. hotelchocolat.co.uk/recipes

Liquid Chocolat Martini A delicious twist to the traditional vodka martini, bursting with authentic cocoa flavours. Perfect for you chocolate-loving lounge lizards! Ingredients 1 measurement of cold Liquid Chocolat (see pack for details). 1 1/2 fl oz Kahlua 1 1/2 fl oz vodka Instructions Make up a shot of your favourite Liquid Chocolat, following the instructions. Allow to cool. Using a cocktail shaker mix all of the ingredients together with ice. Give it a good shake and then strain into a martini glass, serve and get ready to make another! 11


THIS MONTH’S PRIZE DRAW WINNERS Classic Selection prize draw winner

is Mrs C McCann-Cook of Southend-On-Sea who wins a White Adventure. Next month’s prize is a Sleekster Love Selection – a collection of new, spring recipes devoted to the season of love.

Dark Selection prize draw winner is Mrs A Adams of Walsall who wins a Serious Dark Fix.

Next month’s prize is a Chilli & Orange Giant Slab – zesty orange and spicy chilli mingling with deep, dark chocolate.

Solid Chocolate prize

WARM Comfort for a CoLD BLAST At the time of writing, Britain is in the grip of an icy blast from the Arctic. With any luck, we won’t still be by the time you read this! Which reminds us of the countdown to the launch of the Swedish Chocolate Tasting Club, which kicks off in February. All of this January snow and ice would not be out of place in the depths of a Swedish winter – so we trust they’ll draw the same warming comfort from their monthly tasting boxes as hopefully you have recently!

draw winner is Mr Paul Morgan of Llanidloes who wins a Fruit & Nut Milk Giant Slab.

Next month’s prize is a Triple Chocolate Wham Bam Giant Slab – milk, caramel and creamy white chocolate gorgeousness.

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 2010


The Chocolate Tasting Club News - D120 February 2010