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Driving long distances can be a real drag, especially if you find yourself on the never-ending stretch of the M5. But the unlikely saviour from the endless monotony of white lines flashing past you is Gloucester Services. No, really (bear with me). Here's a motorway service station with a difference. It's more like a farm shop, crammed full of regional products from brands and makers big and small. It's a destination in its own right, and somewhere you'll actually enjoy taking a break during a long road trip.
In the chocolate section I found a bar that had been on my radar for years: Chocolarder's famed Wild Gorse Flower 50% Milk Chocolate bar. I had no idea what it would taste like, but knew I wanted to try it. Bean-to-bar chocolate with an unusual flavour - what's not to love?
Eye-catching packaging made this one stand out on the shelf, together with the promise of wild Cornish gorse flower in the recipe.
The chocolate bar sits inside a sealed paper wrapper inside a brown card sleeve, with a black and yellow card sleeve sealing the box closed.
The Chocolarder logo sits at the top in gold foiled print against a backdrop of illustrations of cacao pods and birds perching on branches.
The yellow 50% circle and the black and yellow section at the bottom all form part of the clever plastic-free enclosure mechanism. The information at the bottom includes tasting notes, and a few of the highlights of this bar, including that it is slavery free, fairly traded, stone ground, and multi award winning.
The rear of the brown box explains Chocolarder's core values, while the yellow band from the front wraps over and tucks mid-way up the sleeve. This contains the ingredients and nutritional information, as well as details of the foraging amongst thorny hedgerows to source this bar's key ingredient.
Chocolarder Wild Gorse Flower 50% Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Cocoa beans, unrefined raw sugar, milk powder, gorse flowers. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum.
Sugars sit at a very respectable 31.1% in this 50% milk chocolate bar. It contains milk ingredients and is produced in a factory that also handles tree nuts.
There's several mentions of how much picking gorse flower hurts, so this bar is most definitely a labour of love.
Chocolarder Wild Gorse Flower 50% Milk Chocolate Bar Review
Pull the yellow tab downwards on the reverse reveals a wealth of information about gorse flower and the ethically sourced chocolate produced by Chocolarder. Who needs Wikipedia when you have so much useful information here?
It's a lovely example of creative packaging that not only keeps the chocolate bar safe, but informs and educates too.
The information explains the wildlife that call gorse bushes home, as well as the flower's uses in as a flavouring and as a natural colouring.
The stone ground chocolate bar is crafted from the world's best 5% of cocoa beans in Falmouth, Cornwall. It's roasted, ground and matured, before its transformation into bars. The gorse flowers are steeped in the freshly pressed cocoa butter to impart their flavour for this particular bar.
The 70g bar uses a custom mould designed using the Chocolarder logo set against a horizontal brushed effect. Despite the matt style of the design, a glossy shine can still be seen and a beautiful snap can be heard when trying to portion this up. Realistically, I'd say there's eight bite-size chunks waiting to happen here.
Chocolarder lists the tasting notes as "warming toasted coconut with hints of fudge and hazelnut, ending in light red fruit".
The bar had a strong coconut aroma, with a sweet, milky chocolate background. The floral coconut aspect was noticeable and tried to drown out the other flavour notes, but hints of clotted cream and fudge sat in the background.
On tasting, it's a similar picture. Once I looked hard beyond the coconut flavour, I picked up floral hints of violet mixed with delicate fudge and biscuit notes. The texture is smooth and creamy.
The chocolate itself is creamy and satisfying. The sweetness only really comes through towards the end to round out the flavour, but is perfectly balanced.
While the gorse flower is the star of the show here, I felt its floral, coconut vibes were perhaps a little too pronounced, masking the nuances of the fine chocolate beneath it. This bar was enjoyable nevertheless, but I craved more of the underlying chocolate flavours.
Chocolarder Wild Gorse Flower 50% Milk Chocolate Review
RRP: £6.15 | Chocolarder | Shop now
This is a beautifully packaged high percentage milk chocolate blended with hand-foraged wild gorse flower. Floral, coconut notes dominate the aroma and taste, possibly a tad too much, masking much of the nuiances of the chocolate itself.
Where to Buy Online
Such is the popularity of this brand, you'll find plenty of stockists too, in particular on specialist food and drinks websites, ethical gifts websites, plus local Cornish food websites. Examples include Drink Finder (£6.25), Cocoa Runners (£5.95), Green Tulip (£6), and Yallah Coffee Roasters (£6.15).
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Have you tried this bar? What flavour notes did you detect? Let me know in a comment below.