SHE is ridiculous.
I mean ridiculous in a nice way of course. Fo Guang Shan put on a delightful chocolate and afternoon tea today, and even though we didn’t see the chocolate being played with, the afternoon tea spread was pretty impressive (and never ending it seemed). It’s a shame you can’t always get all the items on the menu at the Waterdrop vegetarian cafe there but wow, what a selection. She chocolat did the afternoon justice with the best hot chocolate I’ve had (ok, so I haven’t been to Europe yet) and a nice wee goodie cup of various chocolate buttons and two very special cacao beans. They’re very overtly spiritual about their chocolate, which is not really something I relate to well, but they obviously do also know how to make amazing chocolate so who am I to stop them communicating with their cocoa butter?! I am a real fan of their cacao nibs and chocolate rolled cacao beans.
Against my better judgment I came home with these ridiculously delicious gems, which Will and I ate in one sitting (naughtily, we chewed them, even though we were advised to do the whole dissolving thing). All those free radicals floating around me better watch out; they don’t stand a chance against all the antioxidants in the cocoa I just ingested.*
It’s not every day I blow $20 on chocolate (although you can get them cheaper if you buy that many on the website), so here’s a bit of a review (I only reviewed the ones I tried, Will kindly shared some of his with me), ordered clockwise from the square chocolate at the top, then top to bottom for the centre chocolates:
Ecuador (73% cocoa) – The darkest of the lot but still pretty sweet considering most dark chocolates. Delicious, but I’d probably go for dark Lindt if I wanted a really intensely dark hit.
Velvetine (Sea salt milk choc) – I promise sea salt isn’t some pretentious foodie thing that secretly tastes awful – the sea salt really does make for a transcendental chocolate experience. It’s not salty, just salt-kissed. They’ve chosen a great grain size for the salt and pairing it with milk chocolate prevents the truffle from being too sickly sweet.
Earl Grey & Valrhona – At first I thought this was lavender – definitely floral but not too pungent.
She (Dark raspberry & rosewater centre, white coating)
He (Ganache and caramel)
Strawberry Balsamic – A bit disappointing, the strawberry flavour felt a bit forced and not very natural and the balsamic was barely detectable.
Sticky Toffee (Ganache and caramel) – Perfect example of what caramel should taste like, with a beautiful complex flavour from the chocolate. Not sure I’d buy it again though as I know I can make this fairly easily at home.
Lemongrass and coconut – The weirdest flavour of the lot! Felt like Thai green curry in chocolate form! An interesting experience but I’m not sure I feel the urge to do it again.
Hi Honey (White chocolate mousse & caramel manuka centre) – Loved the slightly crispy toffee bits in this, they did pair very well with the honey flavour. The rich manuka flavour got a bit lost but it was still pretty good.
I am a bit sad that they don’t have any citrus chocolates (I’d personally love to try a blood orange or grapefruit chocolate), but otherwise it was a pretty good selection. You really must try their florentines if you like that sort of thing, and if you’re ever at the Chch or Lyttelton farmers market see if they have a plain hot chocolate – it really doesn’t need any extra additions! Apparently you can add ginger and they have spiced versions too.
PS. Am still in somewhat of a cooking rut, hence the slow pace of the recipes. Am onto a potentially mind blowing fennel recipe though. It’s weird how much fennel is available at the farmers market at the moment since it’s winter, but I’m not complaining!
*I realise the science on this seems as clear as mud, but there is some hilarious mental imagery to be had, so please humour me.