I was contacted recently by a new artisan chocolatier based in Lancashire - Daniel Coletta, who has recently set up a chocolate company called 'Art of Chocolat'; he produces all of his chocolates by hand, using only fresh ingredients and all his own recipes. Nothing excites me more than hearing about a new artisan chocolatier; the attention to detail, the unique recipes, so of course I was delighted to have the chance to review some of his products that are currently on sale.
I was sent a box of 6 chocolates - Toast & Marmalade, Eton Mess, Earl Grey & Crystallised Lemon, Bakewell Tart, Scottish Raspberry Caramel and Tarte au Citron.
I kicked things off with Toast & Marmalade - it seemed fitting really as I decided to first try these on a lazy Sunday morning; chocolate is completely acceptable for breakfast if essentially it's toast & marmalade right? This chocolate contained an orange marmalade centre and a milk chocolate exterior dusted with toast bits. The orange marmalade is lovely thick texture - almost like a rich caramel with a lovely sweet yet sharp tang; I would have liked a bit more of a toast flavour however; as essentially I felt this chocolate was just a marmalade chocolate. Still good, but I think if more toast flavour could be incorporated it might just bring it up another level.
Eton Mess was the next one on the agenda - white chocolate filled with a creamy vanilla ganache and a strawberry compote; utterly delicious. The ganache was smooth and melt in the mouth with a lovely sweet strawberry flavour running through the chocolate - I think it would have been great to see some more meringue used in this chocolate just to bring the texture contrast up a bit.
Bakewell Tart is something that never massively appeals to me; frangipane is just one of those things I find difficult to get away with. In this chocolate though I actually found that the flavour wasn't strong enough; I found it difficult to get anything out of this chocolate actually with no flavour particularly present at all - the only one I had this problem with in the whole selection.
Earl Grey & Crystallised Lemon; one that I thought that I wasn't going to be a massive fan of, but in the end this actually ended up being my favourite chocolate in the whole box. A rich chocolate ganache centre flavoured with Earl Grey & Crystallised lemon; the bergamot and lemon flavours that are already present with Earl Grey are brought up another level due to the addition of the crystallised lemon, leading to a delightful refreshingly balanced chocolate. I could have quite easily gone back for another one of these.
The Scottish Raspberry Caramel came as a bit of a surprise to me - I was expecting your run of the mill golden caramel with maybe pieces of raspberry, or just a raspberry flavour running through it, but biting into it I was met with a deep ruby red caramel staring out from the middle of the chocolate at me. The raspberry flavour is delicious; sharp and tangy which counterbalances with the sweet caramel perfectly, a gorgeous texture as well neither too thin nor too thick.
The final chocolate I tried was the Tarte au Citron; white chocolate filled with a sharp lemon ganache, this is refreshingly sharp and tangy and a perfect chocolate for the summer months. The white chocolate works really well with this chocolate as it provides that sweetness that helps balance the chocolate overall.
All in all a great mix of chocolates here; sure there could be a few tweaks here and there but overall I'd definitely be happy to pick away at them and are certainly a step up from the run of the mill factory produced chocolates you'll see sitting on the shelves in lots of stores.
Taste - 7.9/10 - A really good mix of chocolates with interesting flavours that aren't too scary!
Texture - 8.2/10 - Lovely smooth ganaches and caramels.
Appearance - 6.3/10 - Could be slightly more pristine but for artisan chocolates that are handmade you expect that they're not going to all be picture perfect. I do think a proper menu card would be good though.
Price - 6.6/10 - On his online boutique Daniel sells his chocolates in selections for around £12.00/£13.00 for a box of 12; so about £1.00 a chocolate. Quite reasonably priced but I just think they need a tiny bit more refinement.
Overall - 7.3/10 - An interesting new chocolatier on the scene; great quality chocolates but a few tweaks here and there could make Art of Chocolat even better - I look forward to seeing what they bring in the future.
Probably chocolates you might buy as a treat to yourself or to share around with friends but I don't think they are polished enough to buy as a luxury box of chocolates for a gift yet, with a bit more work they could be great.
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