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I met Alasdair and Duncan Garnsworthy at this year's Speciality Food Fair in London in October, and probably took up far too much time talking about all things chocolate. Both were extremely passionate about their flourishing Wincanton-based chocolate business, The Chocolate Society.
I enjoyed a demonstration of their innovative hot chocolate shaker, a kitchen gadget that was the result of a considerable volume of time and effort on their part. The silky smooth hot chocolate appeared before me in seconds and was delicious - I look forward to putting mine through its paces at home with some weird and wacky recipes (stay tuned).
Not content with unveiling their hot chocolate shaker, the brothers also recently unveiled a bold rebrand of The Chocolate Society. I was sent home with four 65g chocolate bars in bright and vivid packaging to experience their handiwork first-hand.
Each of the 65g bars came in a modern, vibrant, boldly coloured rectangular cardboard box. A silver-foiled logo headed the box, with the flavour name printed at the bottom.
Rose milk chocolate was packaged in a cyan blue box, salted caramel blonde chocolate was in an orange package, espresso bean in a purple box, and sour cherry was in a fuchsia pink wrapper.
The rear of the four boxes all followed the same format. Printed in white ink was a brief section on tasting notes, ingredients, nutritional information, and an allergen statement.
The cardboard outer was sealed on the reverse with a small transparent sticker. I peeled this off to open the envelope-style box to reveal the bar inside, wrapped in a heat-sealed compostable plastic wrapper.
The inside of the cardboard box is blank in the same vivid colour as the outside. Given the format of this packaging, I expected to find some information, either about The Chocolate Society or its other products in this range. The space is ideal for promoting their chocolate subscription service.
Each bar featured the same 10 segment pattern on the face, and blocks were imprinted with 'The Chocolate Society' text. The segments are geometric in design, which adds a little quirkiness to an otherwise classic form.
All four bars exhibited clean, crisp snaps as I portioned them each into 10 generous chunks.
Rose Milk Chocolate Review
41% Columbian milk chocolate blended with rose geranium oil.
The Chocolate Society Rose Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, cocoa beans, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract, organic rose geranium essential oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids 45% minimum; 19% milk solids.
- What they say: Silky rich Colombian milk chocolate contrasted with delicate rose oil.
- My thoughts: This bar burst with a delicious and tempting aroma, reminiscent of milk chocolate covered bars of rose flavour Turkish Delight. Rose completely dominated the fragrance, with underlying hints of creaminess and sweetness teased out of the milk chocolate base. The flavour of this smooth milk chocolate bar matched the fragrance identically. The floral rose dominated, and masked much of the flavour of the cocoa, although a little richness from this crept through. The creaminess mixed with the sweetness helped to keep the taste grounded.
- Would I buy this one?: Yes. The strong and punchy rose flavour unapologetically sat centre stage, and was supported by the characteristics of the milk chocolate. If you love Turkish Delight, you'll absolutely love this bar.
Salted Caramel Blonde Chocolate Review
35% white chocolate made with caramelised sugar and topped with Welsh sea salt.
The Chocolate Society Salted Caramel Blonde Chocolate ingredients:
White Chocolate (98%) (cocoa butter, sugar, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, caramelised sugar, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), sea salt (2%). Cocoa solids 35% minimum.
- What they say: Creamy blonde chocolate with a butterscotch richness sprinkled with Halen Môn sea salt.
- My thoughts: I understand salted caramel with chocolate is a huge phenomenon right now, but I'm not a massive fan of blending salt with chocolate. This blonde chocolate bar features a generous sprinkling of sea salt flakes on the reverse, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The initial sweet and creamy aroma was awash with hints of white chocolate and caramel notes. On tasting it, the large clumps of salt were the first characteristic I picked up on, and I wasn't keen on this. Once the salt disappears out the the way, notes of caramelised sugar come through along with the creamy properties of the white chocolate.
- Would I buy this one?: No. For me, the salt overwhelmed the delicious medley of white chocolate and butterscotch flavours in this bar. If the bar was salt-free, I'd be a happy bunny. Perhaps if the salt was more sparingly used, it might be more palatable for my taste. If you love the combination of chocolate and salted caramel, this bar fuses the two flavours into one and you'll love it.
Espresso Bean Dark Chocolate Review
61% Columbian dark chocolate with ground coffee beans.
The Chocolate Society Espresso Bean Dark Chocolate ingredients:
Dark chocolate (97%), cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract, coffee (3%). Cocoa solids 61% minimum.
- What they say: Rich 61% Colombian dark chocolate melts into ground roasted coffee beans.
- My thoughts: The coffee aroma was abundantly clear from the outset, masking any hint of chocolate notes. Upon tasting, the rich coffee dominated from start to finish, exhibiting a gentle green bitterness along the way. The flavour of the chocolate itself was masked completely throughout, although the sweetness in it helped to curb the overall experience. The ground espresso beans added a welcomed crunchy texture, which I liked. Into the aftertaste, the coffee continued to dominate although the sweetness from the sugar helped to soften it.
- Would I buy this one?: Yes. I would have liked to taste more of the chocolate but appreciate that the chocolate makers would need to weaken the coffee content, compromising the unmistakable impact of this bar. I'm curious to know if the same coffee content works as well, if not better, with a milk chocolate base to add a creamy undertone (think caffè latte more than espresso).
Sour Cherry Dark Chocolate Review
61% dark chocolate studded with freeze-dried sour cherries.
The Chocolate Society Sour Cherries Dark Chocolate ingredients:
Dark chocolate (93%) (cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), cherry (7%). Cocoa solids 61% minimum.
- What they say: Freeze-dried cherries nestled in rich 61% single-origin Colombian dark chocolate.
- My thoughts: The initial aroma was tart and fruity, with the fragrant cherries dominating the profile. The generous helping of soft and sticky cherries caused the wrapper to adhere to the bar in places. The dark chocolate was delicate and sweet, with subtle fruity, honey-like flavours. A slight bitterness developed right at the end and travelled into the aftertaste. As soon as I hit a plump cherry, it delivered a tart, sour kick that worked really well against the gentle, sweet dark chocolate.
- Would I buy this one?: Yes. Dark chocolate and sour cherries are best of friends, and this was a good demonstration of that. While the chocolate makers could have made the dark chocolate more intense, their decision to opt for a milder, almost creamier, 61% cocoa content means that if you aren't normally a dark chocolate fan but love cherries, you may well like this particular combination.
Overall, my favourite bar was the Rose Milk Chocolate, closely followed by the Espresso and Sour Cherry bars. Each of these bars showcases flavours exceptionally well, and drew on the specific properties of the chocolate bases. While the cocoa flavour was masked in some cases, the flavours of such bars were clear and concise, and I'm not sure I'd want to see these flavours pared back. Clear, strong, punchy flavours are what make these bars stand out (besides the vivid packaging). If, like me, you appreciate clean and well-balanced flavours in your chocolate, look no further.
Other flavours available from The Chocolate Society include Gin & Tonic, Toasted Coconut, and Rosemary & Sea Salt. Seasonal highlights include Mince Pie and Gingerbread.
The Chocolate Society 65g Chocolate Bars Review
RRP: £4.95 | The Chocolate Society | Shop now
Which of these four bars interests you the most? Let me know in the comments below.