News The monthly newsletter from the Tasting Club
WHAT’S PURIST ALL ABOUT? There’s only one sure way to find out what the new Purist Selection is all about – try it for yourself for only £9.95. Details on page 4
HIC! If you like your boozy chocolates to have a bit of oomph, then we’ve got some great news for you. Find out more on page 12
Terry with Bob of The Green Tropics Group survey the new piece of prime highway land
Bypasses… it seems we spend our lives either campaigning for them or against them here in Britain. However, there’s one that we know of that everyone supports.
Nkawkaw, meaning ‘the red, red’ is the main town closest to the Osuben Basin where we base our Engaged Ethics programmes in Ghana. It’s a busy town that is constantly bustling with street traders, shoppers, pedestrians, buses and it’s also clogged up with an awful lot of through traffic too. We pass through it several times during our visits to the Osuben region, but next time we go, it could well be a little bit quieter because they’re building a bypass. continued on page 8...
RECIPE We’ve managed to get our hands on one of the exclusive recipes created for the Boucan Restaurant on Saint Lucia. Find it on page 15
Letter from the
bypass may not sound like a very interesting topic for a headline article, but that’s precisely what we have this month. However, this is no ordinary bypass and it has thrown up an exciting opportunity, of which we intend to take full advantage. I have stood in the middle of the road in question (before it opened I hasten to add) and can confirm that it’s beautifully made, but, as you’ll see, it’s the land either side that interests us, as well as the traffic that is no doubt now thundering down the road. Also this month you’ll see that I have been out and about in Porto with Club Founder, Angus, and Club Chocolate Developer, Gabriela. I hardly need say it, but spending the day tasting an array of ports with different types of chocolate, in order to find the perfect partnerships, was no hardship… despite the best efforts of a certain budget airline! See how we did on page 6.
Spending the day tasting an array of ports with different types of chocolate, in order to find the perfect partnerships, was no hardship…
Elsewhere in this edition you’ll see that there’s an exciting new edition of our chocolate recipe book on the way, Terry found some historical ruins and the new Rabot Estate chocolate has won an award already. Finally, speaking of Saint Lucia, don’t miss your exclusive Boucan recipe on page 15. Until next month, happy tasting!
Get your taste of Purist for just £9.95 – see page 4 for more!
Simon Thirlwell Club News Editor
Send your letters to The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or simply email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or via our website: www.chocs.co.uk We are waiting to hear from you! Club News Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Terry Waters.
© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2011
Improve your chocolate knowledge
THE WHITE CHOCOLATE DEBATE
hocolate purists sometimes get a bit uppity when it comes to white chocolate, dismissing it as ‘not chocolate’. And they do have a point, because it doesn’t contain any cocoa solids like milk or dark chocolate and, therefore, has no cocoa flavour. However, some of white chocolate’s defenders point out that it does contain cocoa butter from the cocoa bean,
which they think should put it in the chocolate category. Unfortunately, white chocolate’s case has been undermined by mass-market manufacturers who replace expensive cocoa butter with cheap vegetable fats and excessive sugar. So what’s the definitive answer? Well, that’s up to you, but we think white chocolate has a place – especially in fillings and decoration.
This month’s Prize Draw
D135 Classic Selection
prize draw winner is Mrs M Walker of Edinburgh who wins a Milk Oblivion Sleekster Selection.
Next month’s prize is a Milk Adventure Peepster Selection.
K68 Dark Selection
prize draw winner is Miss E S Whitsey of Blackburn who wins Le Grand Crunch Dark Giant Slab.
Next month’s prize is a Dark Adventure Peepster Selection.
prize draw winner is Miss R J Perrins of Swansea who wins a Rocky Road Giant Slab.
THE PURIST SELECTION Try it for just £9.95 – but hurry! If you like exploring the distinctive flavours and aromas of rare cocoa, then the new Purist Selection could well be the monthly selection for you. But there’s only one sure way to find out – taste it! Which is why we’re offering members the chance to receive a one-off Purist box at a greatly reduced price. Featuring predominantly dark chocolate, it’s a showcase of exceptional cocoa and premium ingredients from around the world – in solid chocolate tablets and logs, enrobed fruit, crunchy nuts, filled chocolates and more. The regular monthly price is £18.95 but for a limited period only you can try a one-off Purist Selection for just £9.95 (including delivery). But please hurry – call 08444 933 933 or go to www.chocs.co.uk/membersonly
Next month’s prize is a Best Sellers Peepster Selection.
– score by post or online at www.chocs.co.uk and you’ll be automatically entered into the prize draw
MORNING to Midnight
Our updated and greatly expanded recipe book is back and it’s bursting with gorgeous recipes from some of the world’s most respected chefs and food writers – coming soon!
Angus picks out the next port to be tasted (left) while Gabriela explores the cellars and finds where they keeping the 30-year-old vintage (below)
In search of
By Simon Thirlwell
THE PERFECT PORT
It all began when Club Founder, Angus, asked if I would like to join him in his quest to find the perfect port to go with chocolate. He didn’t need to ask twice.
lso on this select three person team was Gabriela Pereira, who was uniquely qualified to be there, in that (a) she creates and develops chocolates for the Tasting Club and (b) she is Portuguese. Gabriela had already identified an extremely promising, family run port maker with whom we would be meeting in Porto. However, the day did not begin well, with a three-hour delay on our flight and an aborted landing… Thankfully, the rest of the day went incredibly well, from the moment Pedro, a director of the family company, met us at the airport to when he dropped us off at the end of the day. Once there, we were joined in the tasting room by Jorge, another family member and chief wine taster, we were all set to begin our tasting quest. We tasted at least ten different ports – from 6
chilled whites, to tawny-coloured ports and finally the more traditional ruby reds (which also had the effect of calming our nerves after the aborted landing). With us we had brought a stash of chocolate to complete the tasting – including three grades of dark chocolate, two milks, a white chocolate and some simple pralines. Jorge turned out to be an enthusiastic chocolate lover too and as keen to find the perfect port as we were, as he insisted we taste his prized 30-year-old and 64-year-old tawny ports. We had gone there with high expectations, as we just knew that port and chocolate make great partners. But did we find the perfect port? No, we didn’t, we found several perfect ports! Don’t miss next month when I’ll be revealing which ones topped the tasting.
Tasting Club Members in Saint Lucia
rize Draw Winner Zoe Phillips won seven nights at The Hotel in Saint Lucia and wrote these kind words on her return – glad to hear you had a good time Zoe! “Words couldn’t convey the excitement Mark and I felt when we discovered we’d won a holiday to the Real Hotel Chocolat! Our Cocoa Cottage, complete with complimentary champagne on ice, was to die for. The bed was the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on, the bathroom hugely decadent and my favourite feature was the open-sky rain shower! With the sun shining through the water it was like being in your own private rainbow by day and a stargazing experience at night. I felt deliciously close to the natural beauty of the surrounding rain forest.
The breakfast choice was huge and healthy and we had great fun trying the different Tasting Menus every evening – each delicious plate was a work of art with chocolate featuring creatively throughout. The desserts and petit fours chocolates sent us into raptures. Another highlight was our visit to the Estate Nursery with the knowledgeable and passionate Cuthbert. It was wonderful seeing all the seedlings, having a go at grafting cocoa shoots onto root stock and I was most impressed by the fact that everything was organically grown, not a chemical in sight. We felt very honoured to have been part of something so special, in such a special place and with such special people – we are already planning our return. Chocolate and barefoot luxury at its best! We would like to thank everyone who made this amazing experience possible – Debbie Hodgetts, Essie Westbrook, Janeka Simon, Phil & Judy Buckley, Chester Francois, Chef Jon Bentham, all the staff at The Hotel and last but not least Cuthbert and Mrs E.You are all the best!” Zoe Phillips (Left) Zoe and Mark learning how to graft cocoa seedlings in the Rabot Estate nursery and (top) Zoe showing off her finished seedling
To find out more about The Hotel, for availability and bookings – please see www.thehotelchocolat.com or call reservations on 0844 544 1272
continued from page 1
So, apart from taking half an hour off our drive time from Accra to Osuben what, we asked, is so exciting about this new road?
The reason Nkawkaw needs a bypass is because it sits on the main road between Accra, Ghana’s capital, and Kumasi, the second largest city – so you can imagine the amount of through traffic that gets stuck in the bottle neck of Nkawkaw’s choked streets, which are already busy enough with the normal business of the day. When we were there in September last year Stephen, Isaac and Bob, who are all part of The Green Tropics Group, our partners in Ghana, couldn’t wait to take us to see the new road. It wasn’t officially open, so the new highway was (thankfully) completely deserted as we wandered across it wondering why we were there. So, apart from taking half an hour off our drive time from Accra to Osuben what, we asked, is so exciting about this new road? It turns out that Stephen, Isaac and Bob heard about the bypass and immediately thought about traffic – in particular, passing traffic that might be interested in cocoa seedlings and traffic from further afield that could easily get to such a convenient place. In short, they saw it as the perfect opportunity to reach even further with our seedlings programme and help cocoa farmers in other regions expand their farms and replace old, unproductive trees. And they didn’t just think about it either, they approached the local chief who owns the land and put the proposal to him. He, in turn, agreed to a highly subsidised price for the two
parcels of land, either side of the new highway. As you can see from the images, the land has already been staked out and cleared ready for use. The plan is to create a large nursery on the site that will supply cocoa seedlings to a whole new area that we have so far been unable to reach. But that’s not all, we’ll also be able to reach people even further afield, or rather, thanks to the new ‘cocoa highway’, they’ll be able to reach us. In this way, we also aim to make the nursery a centre of cocoa excellence for the region so that, as well as being able to pick up seedlings, farmers will also be able to get help and best practice advice on all aspects of cocoa farming. This will hopefully allow us to expand several of our ongoing projects, including the reclamation of infertile land through planting mucuna seeds, the plantain growing programme, teaching farmers how to hand pollinate cocoa flowers and more. What’s more, it will also be the site for our second borehole, after all, those seedlings will need quite a bit of watering! And, as you might remember, because members were so generous in donating to the truck appeal last year, we have funds left over – so we already have the money to pay for the borehole, kindly donated by our generous members. This is clearly a very exciting development for our Engaged Ethics programme in Ghana – so you can be sure we’ll bring you all the latest news as soon as we can.
Clockwise from far left – one of the Green Tropics Group’s boundary markers; Simon checking out the lie of the land; Terry, Stephen and Essie on the highway; and finally, Simon, Bob, Stephen and Terry talking about the exciting plans for the land.
Classic 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Dark 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
Selection – D135
Rhubarb & Caramel by O Coppeneur 8.54 (35% scored it 10/10) Sozzled Raisin by E Desmet 8.37 (31% scored it 10/10) Blackcurrant Bombe by O Nicod 8.35 (30% scored it 10/10) Pistachio Clusters by T & R Gysi 8.28 (29% scored it 10/10) Cashew You by K Kalenko 8.24 (32% scored it 10/10) Intense Praline by O Nicod 8.15 (22% scored it 10/10) Marsala by R Macfadyen 8.14 (20% scored it 10/10) Chambourd Bites by K Kalenko 8.11 (28% scored it 10/10) 33% Milk Tasting Batons, Madagascar 8.06 (23% scored it 10/10) Mellow Mocha by E Desmet 8.06 (26% scored it 10/10) Rhubarb & Caramel Nutty Tart by JC Vandenberghe 8.06 (28% scored it 10/10) Double Shot by M Meier 8.05 (24% scored it 10/10) 41% Milk Tasting Batons, South America 7.96 (23% scored it 10/10) Drambuie Truffle by R Macfadyen 7.90 (26% scored it 10/10) Trillionaire Shortbread by G Pereira 7.87 (31% scored 10/10)
Selection – K68
Double Shot by M Meier 8.67 (43% scored it 10/10) Chambourd Bites by K Kalenko 8.45 (25% scored it 10/10) 72% Dark Tasting Batons, Venezuela 8.33 (23% scored it 10/10) Mellow Mocha by E Desmet 8.32 (23% scored it 10/10) Drambuie Truffle by R Macfadyen 8.21 (33% scored it 10/10) Cashew You by K Kalenko 8.19 (24% scored it 10/10) Rhubarb & Caramel by O Coppeneur 8.16 (27% scored it 10/10) Intense Praline by O Nicod 8.15 (19% scored it 10/10) Sozzled Raisin by E Desmet 8.11 (28% scored it 10/10) Nutty Tart by JC Vandenberghe 8.07 (23% scored it 10/10) Marsala by R Macfadyen 8.06 (20% scored it 10/10) Blackcurrant Bombe by O Nicod 8.02 (29% scored it 10/10) Trillionaire Shortbread by G Pereira 8.02 (19% scored 10/10) Pistachio Clusters by T & R Gysi 9.92 (28% scored it 10/10)
Elements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Cashew You by K Kalenko 8.76 (32% scored it 10/10) Cookie Choc Chip 8.51 (20% scored it 10/10) Trillionaire Shortbread by G Pereira 8.49 (31% scored 10/10) Rhubarb & Caramel by O Coppeneur 8.42 (35% scored it 10/10) 41% Milk Tasting Batons, South America 8.21 (23% scored it 10/10) 33% Milk Chocolate, Madagascar 8.06 (23% scored it 10/10) Nutty Tart by JC Vandenberghe 7.94 (28% scored it 10/10) Intense Praline by O Nicod 7.72 (22% scored it 10/10) Mousse au Chocolat by O Nicod 7.48 (31% scored it 10/10) 72% Dark Tasting Batons, Venezuela 7.10 (23% scored it 10/10)
Have Your Say! Bouquet Rhubarb & Caramel – Classic “Forget custard, caramel sauce with my rhubarb in future. This was lovely. A real surprise!”
Beverley Watson, Daventry
Bouquet Trillionaire Shortbread – Classic Amazing, you have outdone yourselves again. Shame there were only 2... Can’t wait to see what quintillionaire shortbread is like!
Kristen Dorcey-Joyce, Edinburgh
Brickbat Rhubarb & Caramel – Classic Rhubarb & Caramel? The very idea made us shudder – couldn’t even bring ourselves to try it! Sorry!
Amanda McKenzie, Aberdeenshire
Bouquet Intense Praline – Classic OMG! Chocolate perfection. I don’t think I have ever tasted such rich praline. Looks standard, but what a fantastic surprise!
Mrs DE Johnson, Hemel Hempstead
Bouquet Blackcurrant Bombe – Dark A wonderful explosion when detonated.
Gwyneth Cole, Middlesborough
Brickbat Mellow Mocha – Dark Entirely TOO mellow. The coffee didn’t come through at all.
Jessica Odell, Lisburn
Bouquet Drambuie Truffle – Dark Yes – I’ve died and gone to heaven!!
Richard Tidey, Brigg
Bouquet 41% Dark Tasting Batons, South America – Elements Didn’t get one of these, but my husband and two sons all agree that they were amazing.
Clare Hockley, Exeter
Six of The Best
Griotte Deluxe – Whoever dreamed up this chocolate is a genius! Deborah Luke, Westhill Drunken Raspberry – My favourite from Six of the Best. The glossiness of the chocolate, the delightful raspberry taste, including the tiny little seeds... I truly loved every delicious morsel. Any going spare? Linda Corrin, Isle of Man Griotte Deluxe – My absolute favourite chocolate of all time. Every aspect of it just works, taste, texture, blends. WOW! Delicious! Susan Banton, Chesterfield Raspberry Liqueur Truffle – Words fail – excuse me while I swoon over another one of these. Caroline Morris, Shirley Blueberry Bombe – When this chocolate ‘burst’ on the scene it hailed a new era of what people want. Fresh bursting with fruitiness and packed with goodness too. Pam Newman, Haywards Heath Florentina – the crunch of the florentine tipped the scale – perfect. Jeffrey Stansfield, Grantham Griotte Deluxe – This could never be bettered, it is exquisite! Beth Windsor, Heacham 11
Are you one of the thousands of boozy chocolate fans who have helped make The Fortified Selection one of the most popular special editions of all time? Well then, we’ve got some great news for you – Fortified is going quarterly!
ehind the scenes there have been lengthy tasting sessions of all sorts of alcohols – from traditional spirits, liqueurs and fortified wines, to more obscure tipples from around the world. The first of our Quarterly Selections features one of the Club’s all-time favourite liqueurs, amaretto; warming Saint Lucian golden rum; a mellow splash or two of marsala fortified wine; a rather special bison grass vodka and much, much more. Plus, there are also our new Provenance Cards to discover in each collection – giving you fascinating insight into a select few of our featured alcohols including their origin, history, tasting notes and more.
The first Fortified Quarterly Selection will be ready for release in September and available to members for £19.95 (including delivery). To find out more and to reserve yours please see www.chocs.co.uk/FORTIFIED or call us on 08444 72 70 70.
Six of the best
Intrepid explorers Terry (left) and Peter Harris with the old boiler
THE RABOT ESTATE SUGAR MILL
he principle reason that the islands of the Caribbean were of such interest to Europeans in the 17th century was not cocoa, but the other ingredient in chocolate, sugar. Conditions for growing sugar cane are ideal and plantations abounded. Such was the value placed on the crop that, at the end of the Seven Years War, the victorious British tried to negotiate with the defeated French to exchange the vast land of Canada with the tiny but sugarrich island of Guadalupe. So, it’s perhaps no great surprise that if you set off from the Rabot Estate House heading north and hack your way through the undergrowth (as did intrepid explorers Hotel Chocolat Co-founder Peter Harris and Club Director Terry Waters) you will come to the remains of a sugar mill. It’s very much a ruin, but you can see the building itself was large, covering an area of about 1,000 sq metres and had a big water wheel – sadly long gone. Where the water has gone is anyone’s guess but it clearly dried up when the mill was still functioning for, inelegantly lying on its side a short distance away is a sizeable steam boiler. It is a somewhat sad site with overgrown walls and rusting boiler, but then, is it not fitting that when man forges something from the jungle and abandons it, the jungle has every right to take it back!
Thanks to everyone who sent us their scores for this very special collection. That the cult chocolate, Griotte Deluxe, was the ultimate winner may not be a surprise, but the scores of all six chocolates were surprisingly close – proving that this really was Six of the Best!
1. Griotte Deluxe by E Desmet 8.95 (54% scored it 10/10) 2. Drunken Raspberry by W Roelandts 8.81 (37% scored it 10/10) 3. Florentina by E Desmet 8.77 (37% scored it 10/10) 4. Blueberry Bombe by O Coppeneur 8.75 (40% scored it 10/10) 5. Raspberry Liqueur Truffle by M Meier 8.74 (39% scored it 10/10) 6. Pomegranate Truffle by O Coppeneur 8.63 (35% scored it 10/10) 13
Joining the rat race – useful job found for them at last! As we all know, the seeds of the cocoa tree (cocoa beans to you and I) grow inside a cocoa pod. But did you know that the cocoa tree is unable to disperse its own seeds? Left unhindered, the pod will eventually just rot away and so will the seeds inside. In the wild, the cocoa tree relies on animals to do the job of dispersal and one of the most eager to take the job is the rat – although monkeys and other primates are known to help out too. This is because the cocoa tree has evolved a pod that is filled with a beautifully sweet, milky white pulp
that surrounds the beans and is irresistible to animals. The cocoa beans, on the other hand, are hideously bitter. The result is that animals break into the pod to eat the pulp, releasing the beans in the process, which are then left uneaten because they are way too bitter even for a rat to eat!
RABOT ESTATE WINS AGAIN! The winners of the annual Academy of Chocolate Awards have just been announced and we’re delighted to say that Hotel Chocolat has won several awards across many categories. Perhaps the most rewarding of the awards, however, are those for two Rabot Estate chocolates – the 65% dark chocolate (120hour conch) and the new 66% dark (late 2010 harvest). The former has appeared in Tasting Club selections and scored well with members, while the latter will be available soon. Club Founder and Hotel Chocolat Chief Executive, Angus Thirlwell said, “I think that this latest 66% dark chocolate made with our own Rabot Estate beans is the best yet – so I’m over the moon that others have agreed with me! With every harvest, every batch of beans we ferment and dry, and with every cuvée of chocolate we make, we are constantly fine-tuning and this proves we’re on the right track. I can’t wait for you to taste it!”
Exclusive recipe from RESTAURANT & BAR
RABOT ESTATE Chocolate Melt Ingredients:
1. Whip the eggs and the sugar in a mixing bowl until it triples in volume (genoise consistency). 2. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bain marie or a microwave, stirring all the time. 3. Using a plastic spatula, mix the butter and the chocolate together. 4. Now mix together the eggs/sugar and the chocolate/butter. 5. Sieve the flour and add it to the mix. 6. Spray with vegetable oil non-stick dariol/ aluminium mould and cover the bottom of the mould with greaseproof paper 7. Pour the mixture into the non-stick mould before it sets. 8. Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. 9. To cook, preheat oven to 190Â°C and then bake for 7-9 minutes. Please ensure thereâ€™s a distance of 5cm between the moulds.
130g 65% Dark Saint Lucia chocolate 4 eggs 2 egg yolks 160g caster sugar 65g plain flour
Serving Suggestion: Try serving the Rabot Chocolate Melt with a scoop of coconut or red fruit sorbet. Serves: 4 Ease of preparation: Medium Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes This recipe needs to be prepared one day in advance.
Discover five more secret Boucan recipes only in an exclusive booklet with Summer Desserts www.chocs.co.uk/summer or call 08444 72 70 70 15
SPOTLIGHT ON Some flavours just deserve an entire box all to themselves
Available online and instore now www.hotelchocolat.co.uk