It’s chocolate’s birthday, well almost. Saturday 7th July is World Chocolate Day. Its introduction to Europe has been pinpointed to this date in 1550. Mixed with spices like chilli and vanilla, it marked the start of a very long love affair.
The cocoa bean’s history stretches much further back though, it was originally grown and enjoyed in Central America and Mexico. Ancient baristas, Mayans drank an elixir of frothy bitter cocoa. Roasted beans were enjoyed ‘straight up’, powering warriors on the march.
You might not like your chocolate like a Mayan, but take strides. Discover something new or cosy up with an old favourite.
Celebrate 7th July 2018 with your choice of chocolate.
RECIPE FOR THE BEST CHOCOLATE?
WE ASK OUR EXPERT, EMMA.
Emma crafts all our single-origin bars for Rare & Vintage. Single-origin is cocoa harvested from one country, which sit in that happy place, 20° North or South of the equator, from Saint Lucia (home to our own estate) to Honduras (the crucible of Mayan cocoa civilisation). To her, it’s a matter of taste, and a question of how far you want to venture.
A great introduction if you want to try milk chocolate with a difference. We up the ratio of cocoa to 67%, even higher than many so called ‘dark’ chocolate bars. Creamy, smoky, opulent with a hint of butterscotch and raisin.
Lining the supermarket shelves, you’ll see many milk chocolates, but usually something is missing. The cocoa. Some start at a paltry 20%, while our Supermilk raises the bar to 65%. Packed with more satisfying cocoa, we dial down sugar to give you more of a lift.
Next step dark. Made from Mayan Red cocoa beans, this is a great first taste of single-origin. The flavour profile is bitter raisin, how best to sum it up? Like a raspberry compote. These are beans with heritage, grown in Honduras where Mayans once worshipped ‘Theobroma cocoa’ or food of the gods. Try our Academy of Chocolate winner.
What are nibs? Cocoa beans, roasted, then de-shelled (called winnowing). These were grown from seedling on our estate. Nibs make chocolate, with the addition of milk or sugar. However, we’re talking 100%. Nothing added, at all! It’s a savoury, peaty profile rich in tannins, like a good Merlot. If you want your cocoa pure, go boldly.
WHAT SHINES FOR US THIS SUMMER?
Heatwave ready. On the other end of the spectrum, you might like to tuck-in to our Summer Desserts. We asked Kiri, our senior chocolatier, to select her favourites.
MY TOP THREE SUMMER DESSERTS
Passionfruit Cheesecake – not one you’ll see in our other collections, so a real exclusive. A distinctive zing made with pressed fruit, perfect for summer.
Watermelon Bombe – nothing’s better than a refreshing slice on a hot day. We’ve recreated watermelon minus the pips! Refreshing and light.
Chocolate Macaron – our take on a macaron. Mellow, creamy cocoa flavour profile. Very moreish!
Every recipe was inspired by desserts you’d find on summer menus, from Blood Orange Sorbet to Blueberry Cheesecake. While our boozy chocolates took their lead from summer cocktails or tipples served at a barbeque, think iced mojito.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM?
Us chocolatiers are real foodies, we eat out a lot, cook together and on our own at home. We’re always experimenting with new recipes and turning them into chocolate in our Cambridgeshire Inventing Room.
WHAT MAKES THE BEST CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD?
It’s so personal, but for me it’s a chocolate which is well balanced on flavour and recreates the concept when you taste it. For example, I want my mojito chocolate to have a good glug of decent rum and that fresh garden mint flavour! I like food to evoke memories, and to me a mojito takes me back to my holidays.
Happy World Chocolate Day!
Which chocolate will you take to the party? Share your favourites on Facebook or Instagram!
Drawing on originality: Jolly new kids’ chocolates with real Christmas character.
What better way to explore the wonder of Christmas than to view it imagined by a child? From that first falling flake, to dashing out to a garden white out with one snatched mitten to roll a fresh blanket of snow…
This magical perspective inspired Rhona, our chocolate sculptress, to shape and create our new Jolly Snowman, Penguin and Santa. Her starting point is never off-the-shelf moulds – every hollow shape is an original.
We sketch out where Rhona started her journey…
What would our snowman look like?
I looked at cartoons, kids’ drawings and real snowmen. It needed a little ‘imperfection’ to make it perfect. Imagine a child rolling a snowman, there are lumps, bumps, nothing is slick, that’s what makes it endearing.
Can you spot the odd glove?
From watercolour sketches, the next step was sculpting in chocolate, the perfect medium to capture imperfect details. All of his accessories are those odds and ends gathered in a hurry when it finally snows. Spot some original little quirks, including one mitten and a mismatched glove.
…and the making of Jolly Santa: as featured The Telegraph’s Gourmet Gift Guide
Santa with Rhona’s red specs
Beyond the grinning, waving, expected Santa, I wanted one with real personality, a character that looked familiar and wise. Colour was used sparingly, I didn’t go for a glowing red jacket, as it detracts from the detail of the mould. I did add a personal little quirk of red glasses, I happen to have a pair!
Penguins with personality
Our penguin looks like he’s up to mischief. He’s slouchy and wears his bobble hat slightly skew-whiff. Instead of opting for the obvious flash of white on the chest, I picked out smaller details, his beak and black eyes. I wanted the character, not the colour to come through.
Tag hide and seek – find them all…
Every detail was hand modelled, except the logo for our tags. Artwork had to be exact for this, so we used digital printing. To find each tag, it’s a little like hide and seek, as they’ve become part of the character. Santa might be sporting his coat inside out, also check labels on penguin’s bobble hat and snowman’s scarf.
Handcrafted detail, 3D-captured
Each carved character was 3D-scanned to make a two-part hollow mould. They’re spun, or rotated very slowly in a giant cylinder so the chocolate reaches every part. Spinning sounds fast, but it’s actually quite slow. The result? Every lump, bump and detail, first hand modelled, is captured.
Kids’ chocolate with more imagination – and less sugar
Look out for our Posse of Penguins too, mini-me versions of our mischievous original.
New Chocolate Coins
Did you know Aztecs venerated cocoa so highly they counted it as currency and used bags of beans to barter? This Christmas, so do we! Our new chocolate coins in 40% milk is counted in cocoa beans, sketched, then sculpted by Rhona, based on aged treasure you’d find in an old casket with all of its worn character.
Our coins are in good company. In a real working mint, production of chocolate and real coins whirs and stamps at a steady pace. Raphael Maklouf, owner, and sculptor in his own right, shaped the portrait you might find on coins in your pocket of Her Majesty The Queen (1985 to 1997).
Sketched, sculpted, then stamped in a real working mint
Raphael helped Rhona realise, and foil-wrap her vision. Tower Mint were one of the first in this country to stamp coins with real prestige, from palaces to museums, and the only mint in the UK still working in chocolate today.
We also presented a first, using our own 40% milk chocolate ‘blanks’, so we shape and make the coins lining stockings. Rhona’s sculpture was translated, cast and die-cut (two negative impressions, front and back or ‘dies’ are used to strike a coin on each side).
The result is a positive, the coins you’ll see bagged up and foil-wrapped ready to be placed on tip toes in Christmas stockings everywhere.
We love originals. Share your Christmas crafty moments or even freshly rolled snowmen on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #imagination