Lets go loco about cocoa, after all it is Chocolate Week (10 – 16 October). We consulted chocolate connoisseurs Hotel Chocolat, to discover what flavours each different cocoa region produces and how best to make the most of each distinctive flavour. Warning: the below content is guaranteed to make you hungry!
We love chocolate here at Red Letter Days, remember when we went luxury chocolate making? Much like wine, good chocolate reflects the flavours of the region the cocoa beans are grown. How the beans are dried and fermented also alters the flavour. Cocoa beans are roasted so that their many layers of flavour come through. The beans come from 6 distinct regions around the world including Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Honduras, Vietnam and St.Lucia.
Hotel Chocolat’s new ‘Rare and Vintage’ bars explore how to make the most of the cocoa regions and best showcase these flavours. We looked at (and tasted) 5 of their new bars to learn more about flavour profiles.
The 65% Buffalo milk bar combines beans from the Hotel Chocolat Saint Lucian cocoa estate and buffalo milk found on Laverstock Park Farm in rural Hampshire. This flavour combination is so delicious that it won an Academy of Chocolate bronze award in 2016.
The 72% dark Honduras bar uses beans from Central America, which is where the Mayans first tasted cocoa way back in 250 AD. The Mayans didn’t add milk to their xoclatl and so this bar reflects the origins of the humble bar. Skipping the milk allows the notes of purple and red fruits to come through particularly well.
The 80% dark Vietnam bar uses beans grown along the Mekong Delta which suit a light roast. They are roasted just enough to bring out a punchy red fruit flavour.
The 90% dark Ecuador bar is a head turner. Usually Ecuadorian cocoa beans are led by notes of roasted nuts but this 90% bar allows delicate, floral and fruity notes to blossom.
The 72% dark St. Lucia bar has an oak-aged red wine profile. The bar is like a glass of something full-bodied and definitely one to cherish and unwind with!
If all this talk of chocolate has made you peckish, then why not check out the UK’s fourth Chocolate Show at Kensington Olympia from 14 – 16 October. The show celebrates chocolate in all its forms, from bars to truffles, baking and even chocolate sculptures.
A spectacular chocolate fashion show takes place which includes dresses made from chocolate dazzling their way down the catwalk. There are activities for all the family including Roald Dahl inspired children’s workshops hosted by Rococo Chocolates and a Chocolate Dessert of the Year competition which is judged on the Friday afternoon. Who knows… You may even be able to sample some of these desserts after too, (hopefully)!
What is your favourite chocolate flavour? Let us know!