Oxfordshire's Aurosó Chocolate has launched a new line-up of festive products in time for online chocolate purchases in the run up to Christmas. Sitting alongside their range of luxury ganache bars and honey truffles now sits vegan hot chocolate shards and a duo of Florins flavours.
The additions came after Catrin at Aurosó Chocolate became frustrated with the amount of sugar and soy lecithin in supermarket hot chocolate products. As for the Florins, these came about when Catrin noticed a gap in the market for luxury, low-sugar chocolate stocking fillers. Inspired by her popular Easter tablets, these mendiant-sized treats are perfect for giving as small gifts to friends and family this Christmas.
Catrin kindly sent me samples of the Florins and shards, so, I dutifully made myself a hot chocolate and tucked into the luxury chocolate buttons.
Moonshine Florins (Vegan)
£8 | 75g
Let's begin with what's a florin? That was my first question, too. A florin was a type of currency struck between 1252 to 1533 in Italy. Aurosó Chocolate draws inspiration from this, with large disks of rich dark chocolate topped with a tempting selection of ingredients. Think of them as luxurious and indulgent chocolate buttons.
The Moonshine Florins feature toppings of a Cotswolds whisky-soaked flame raisin, toasted pine nuts, home-grown rosemary, and a sprinkling of Halen Môn sea salt. These all rest on a house-made 90% RaiseTrade Chocolat Madagascar dark chocolate disc.
The Moonshine Florins are presented in a 75g bag, complete with a purple ribbon decoration and a tag containing the ingredients and nutritional information. Each Florin contains approximately 82.5kcals and 2.1g of sugar on average.
Aurosó Chocolate Dark Chocolate, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Whisky rounds ingredients:
Madagascar cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, flame raisins (7%), pine nuts (4%), whisky, fresh rosemary, Anglesey sea salt. Cocoa solids: 90% minimum.
Rosemary dominates the aroma of the Florins, with a subtle background hum from the dark chocolate. Rosemary leads in the flavour too, with woody, herbal notes that pairs beautifully against the rich, smokey and fruity dark chocolate. Hit the juicy, sozzled raisin and you release a fiery warmth of oak and peat, which, again, works so well against the herbs and intense chocolate.
The rich medley of flavours settle down in the aftertaste, with the chocolate notes dominating, cuddled by the warmth of the whiskey and the dwindling fragrance of rosemary. These Moonshine Florins are fun, whimsical, and definitely a grown up indulgence. Santa would be very impressed if you left these out for him on Christmas Eve.
£8 | 75g
Picture a base of 90% dark chocolate, studded with an organic sour cherry, blackberry pieces, and a bespoke spiced granola. That's the basis for the Sunrise Florins.
The granola is made using gluten-free oats, nuts, seeds, Madagascan cocoa nibs, spices, and a drop of local honey.
The Sunrise Florins are also presented in a 75g bag, complete with a maroon ribbon decoration and a tag containing the ingredients and nutritional information. Each Florin contains approximately 81kcals and 2g of sugar on average.
Aurosó Chocolate Dark Chocolate, Sour Cherry, Granola and Blackberries rounds ingredients:
Madagascar cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, sour cherries (6%), granola (4%) (gluten-free oats, blanched almonds, buckwheat groats, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, honey, walnuts, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, ginger), blackberries (2%). Cocoa solids: 90% minimum.
The intense smokey-fruity aroma of the 90% dark chocolate dominates here. The Florin delivers a satisfying crunch before releasing its flavours in an explosion of flavour. The smooth dark chocolate is intense, with smokey, leathery notes at the forefront, walking hand-in-hand with a strand of bitterness. There's a glimpse of sweetness and creaminess that swoops in, while the toppings add texture to the mix. There's crunch from the seeds, as well as chewiness and tartness from the berries and cherry. The heady dark chocolate flavour dominates the aftertaste, although the creamy aspect of it develops further, and the flavour of the oats creeps through.
While these Florins look more 'loaded' than the Moonshine variety, and thus more visually appealing, I think the intense chocolate base dwarfs the subtle flavours of the toppings here. The bold flavours in the Moonshine discs create a more distinctive and more balanced flavour.
Hot Chocolate Flakes (Vegan)
£11.70 | 200g
If you've got a hankering for the dark stuff, this hot chocolate may be for you. The flakes are made from the house-made 90% dark chocolate so this one packs a punch. But if you're after something intense and flavoursome, rather than the cheap and nasty sugar-laden powders you find in the supermarket, this is worth a go. To that end, these hot chocolate flakes contain 121kcal and just 2.1g of sugar per 20g serving (plus the liquid of your choosing. For example, 200ml of semi-skimmed milk adds approximately 100kcal and 9.6g of sugar).
Aurosó Chocolate 90% Madagascar Single Origin Hot Chocolate ingredients:
Madagascar cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter. Cocoa solids: 90% minimum.
Aurosó Chocolate teases tasting notes of "raisins, mulled wine and citrus". Refreshingly, the instructions on how to make your hot chocolate are full of reliable choice, so you can make a hot beverage to truly suit your tastes and preferences. When you make hot chocolate at home, it's easy enough to tailor the recipe but the results aren't always reliable. The suggestions on the rear of the Eco Kraft Pouch read like they've been extensively tried and tested.
It all starts with the base. Choose traditional dairy milk or perhaps opt for oat milk, coconut milk, or even single cream (the calories don't count if you don't look at the numbers, right?).
Then, Aurosó Chocolate helpfully suggests additions to make your hot chocolate more personal. Add a splash of rum, or try adding cinnamon, chilli, ginger, cardamom or orange zest. For sweetness, suggestions include honey or coconut sugar.
The 200g pouch contains ten 20g servings, although that might vary if you decide to increase the quantity of chocolate in your hot beverage.
Opening the pouch, there's plenty of aroma from these lively 90% hot chocolate flakes. There's a sweet bouquet with smokey, tart berry notes. There's a slight woodiness and nuttiness that rounds out the aroma. The chocolate itself comprises of flakes and pebbles, which are small enough to quickly and easily melt into hot milk.
As always, when I make a hot chocolate, I whip out my tried-and-tested hot chocolate shaker. It's a cracking piece of kit, and delivers perfect results every time. I heated up semi-skimmed milk and shook this with the flakes for just a few seconds until the hot chocolate had emulsified.
The flavour of this single-origin Madagascan hot chocolate is rich and intense, even when made with just 20g of flakes and semi-skimmed milk. There's a bitterness that sits front and centre, surrounded by a cacophony of tart red berry and citrus notes. There's a deep smokey quality in the mix too, along with notes of freshly baked bread. The milk helps add a touch of creaminess, but didn't really attack the bitter quality.
I found a small teaspoon of honey did the trick on that front. There's a reason Catrin turned to honey in her luxury ganache bonbons, and that's because the natural sweetness really works very well with the intense 90% shells.
Adding a splash of rum (and the teaspoon of honey) takes this to the next level. I had a feeling this may well be a magic combo after tasting Catrin's Apricot Morvenna Rum Bonbons, which pairs rum with the 90% chocolate blend. I sat still, eyes closed, comforted by the warm hug of a rum-spiked hot chocolate. Think of your traditional rum and raisin flavour, then blend that with a fruity, smokey dark chocolate, and serve it all in a mug. It's perfect for a cold winter's evening.
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You can buy the hot chocolate flakes and Florins direct from the Aurosó Chocolate website here.
Which would you choose - the Florins, the hot chocolate, or both? Let me know in the comments below.