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Cast your mind back to June and you may remember I wrote about Bullion Chocolate's collaboration with the Royal Mint to produce a Chocolate Gold Bar Gift Set. Bullion by Bullion was the theme.
At the time, I reckoned it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for a bullion or gold sovereign collector, or anyone who collects The Royal Mint coins and sets.
Little did I know the range would sell out by the end of summer. Clearly, The Royal Mint shoppers know a great thing when they see it!
Luckily, the team at this Sheffield-based chocolate makers sent me a two-bar preview box just before it sold out so I could first-hand the sensations and tastes that the lucky recipients of this Bullion gift box got to experience.
Now, before you dismiss this chocolate review entirely, you can get hold of these chocolate bars in a couple of different ways, so while the original "bullion by Bullion" gift box isn't available, there are alternatives that I discuss at the end.
The sturdy black cardboard box gives little away at first glance. The gold-foiled Royal Mint logo on the lid is the only clue, but that suggests it could be any one of a wide range of numismatic products inside.
Lift the lid to discover golden-clad chocolate bars. The original gift set contained two 50% milk chocolate and one 70% dark chocolate bar, while my sneak peek sample contains one of each. Even so, the impact is still one of wonderment and curiosity. It looks - and feels - incredibly special and precious.
The Bullion chocolate bars feature golden wrappers that are also seen on their No. 1 Haiti Acul du Nord 70%, No. 2 Bolivia Alto Beni 70%, and No. 3 Guatemala Lanquin 70% chocolate bars. The black labels, however, are bespoke to this set, featuring The Royal Mint crest.
On the rear of the 63g (2.22oz) bars, there's a wealth of information. Other chocolate makers could learn a thing or two from these fine packaging examples. The label explains the origins of the cocoa beans used in the chocolate recipe, the ingredients, the tasting notes, and the bean-to-bar chocolate making process, as well as the nutritional information.
Bullion Fine Dark Chocolate ingredients:
Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cane sugar, gold leaf. Cocoa solids: 70% minimum.
Bullion Fine Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, milk powder, cane sugar, gold leaf. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum; Milk solids: 18% minimum.
The 70% Fine Dark Chocolate contains around 30% sugars and the 50% Fine Milk Chocolate contains just under 38.5%.
The heirloom Nacional cacao beans used in the recipes for these two bars are ethically sourced from the Cedeño Aguila family farm in Santo Domingo and shipped to the UK. Then they are roasted, cracked, winnowed, refined, conched, aged, tempered, and then moulded into bars by Bullion Chocolate in Sheffield.
Bullion Fine 70% Dark Chocolate Bar Review
Peel back the thick textured golden hued paper to reveal a bar clad in gold foil. Unpeel this and you'll be dazzled with the shine, not only from the perfectly tempered chocolate but from the flecks of edible gold leaf that adorn its face.
The mould used here has shaped the bar to give 16 rectangular segments and with chocolate this pretty, you'll want to savour each and every bite. The snap is crisp and clear and is delightfully satisfying.
As you might expect from a 70% dark chocolate bar, the aroma is rich and characterful. There's a mild smokiness in the mix, along with gentle leathery notes and a slight woodiness. Surprisingly, there's a creaminess and sweetness that comes through the aroma, softening and rounding the fragrance.
Bullion reckons this bar should exhibit tasting notes of hazelnuts, caramel, and dried figs.
As soon as it melts, the chocolate yields a sweet concoction of smokey notes blended with molasses. There's a depth of flavour here that's really rich and satisfying.
Mid-way, jammy raisin flavours add an extra dimension, while a subtle nutty flavour develops right at the tail end, with a slight citrus tang to it.
The aftertaste is rich and faintly bitter, with a sweet creaminess that lingers below an earthy, smokey finish.
Deep, dark, and sophisticated, this is a chocolate bar that I think even some dark chocolate haters could get on board with. It's flavourful, rich, and satisfying, with a natural creaminess that helps to round the flavour on the palate. You might struggle to tell this apart from a dark milk chocolate.
Bullion Fine 50% Milk Chocolate Bar Review
Featuring the same beans as the 70%, the Fine 50% Milk Chocolate Bar promises a sweeter, creamier experience. It too begins with unsheathing the bar from its golden foil jacket, and once again the result is dazzlingly spectacular.
The aroma of this bar is a stark contrast to the dark bar. While there's glimmers of smokiness to the aroma, it's dominated considerably more by notes of thick, gooey bronzed caramel. It's rich and creamy, to the point it almost hints at notes of cheese and butter.
Bullion reckons this bar should exhibit tasting notes of roasted nuts, butterscotch, and vanilla.
The creaminess comes through straight away in this bar, followed by notes of condensed milk and buttery caramel. There's a richness and depth to this bar that's really satisfying.
Mid way, there's the same glimpse of jammy notes as in the dark bar, that quickly fades into Brazil nut flavours just at the very end. The aftertaste is rich and creamy, with dark caramel notes linger long after the chocolate has vanished.
The bar begs you to devour more as you unpick its finer qualities. And with an exterior as glamorous as it is, it would be rude not to obey.
Which Is Best?
You might think that as these two chocolate bars feature the same base ingredient, they'd both taste pretty similar and it would be easy to pick one over the other. That's what I had expected at the outset too.
But these are two sides of the same coin. Yes, they both feature Ecuadorian cocoa beans and they are both decorated and packaged in a similar way, but that's where the resemblances end.
The dark bar has bags of smokey character. It's rich and flavourful with only the subtlest of bitter notes. The milk bar is creamy and rich, with caramel flavours that make it feel very indulgent and luxurious.
I'm not sure one is better than the other. Both feel very grown-up and elegant. I'd be happy with either bar. The milk chocolate bar is great as an indulgent pick-me-up, but so too is the dark chocolate bar as it is characterful without the heaviness nor bitterness you'd often expect to find in a 70% bar. Perhaps this was why these two bars appear in the gift box, to give you the best of both worlds?
Bullion Chocolate Royal Mint Gold Bar Gift Set Review
RRP: £29.99 | Bullion | Shop now
When I first heard about this project I thought it would be good, and I was not disappointed. Everything about this gift set oozes luxury and sophistication. The flavours of the Fine Milk and Fine Dark chocolate do not disappoint, and the edible 23 karat gold leaf adds extra bling and the final wow factor to this superb experience. Anybody who received this gift set from a loved one is very lucky indeed.
Where to Buy Online
As I said earlier, this Gift Set is no longer available, according to The Royal Mint's website.
UPDATE: This is now back in stock! You can find it here. You might want to be quick in case it sells out again soon.
Bullion sells its own branded version of the 50% milk chocolate bar, albeit without the edible gold leaf. Bullion Fine Milk (£5.95) comes in the same 63g format. This bar is also available on Sheffield Made (£5.95).
Bullion also stocks a Three Bar Bundle Gift Box (£20) that is similar in appearance to this one, but with Bullion branding instead and a different selection of single-origin bars. It boasts three 63g bars - No. 1 Haiti Acul du Nord 70%, No. 2 Bolivia Alto Beni 70%, and No. 3 Guatemala Lanquin 70% - and would make a great gift for serious chocolate lovers.
Bullion has also released an advent calendar which features 50% milk and 70% dark chocolate bars using beans from Santo Domingo, Ecuador. The ingredients list also includes edible gold leaf so this versatile calendar is the closest alternative to this delightful Royal Mint chocolate bar set above.
Have you tried Bullion's chocolate? Leave a comment below with your favourite bar in their range.