Born out of a hobby, Mikey Lewis started off making chocolate bars from scratch in what Wales Online described as "probably Wales' smallest chocolate factory." Heist Chocolate is a labour of love, and Mikey's passion comes through in his video interview.
The chocolate bars are stocked in a selection of independent shops around the city but I turned to the Internet for the greatest selection. That's when I clocked a collaboration bar between Cardiff's Heist Chocolate and Manchester's Pollen Bakery. Chocolate and croissants are two of my favourite things, so I suspected this mashup bar was going to taste good. I ordered a bar on the Heist Chocolate website and it arrived a couple of days later.
Heist Chocolate's package is a textbook exercise in creating impactful packaging using simple materials. My chocolate bar didn't arrive in an envelope or a delivery box, but instead inside a brown paper shopping bag folded several times and franked with Heist's Tomkins logo made into a postal mark. It's quirky, different, and genuinely exciting to open. I mean, I know what was in there as I'd ordered it, but the novelty of the packaging meant it was interesting to delicately open.
Inside, a stitched padded brown envelope housed the chocolate bar, while a couple of colourful postcards dished up information about the Heist Chocolate brand. There was also a handwritten message from Mikey, which made me smile. Ordering on the Internet can feel distant and impersonal, yet this small personalisation detail adds thought and feeling.
The large sticker on the bar features lovely croissant-inspired artwork by Han Valentine.
On the reverse, there's a sticker introducing the Heist brand, together with the ingredients and nutritional information.
Heist x Pollen Croissant Butter Milk Chocolate bar ingredients:
Milk chocolate (organic cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter, whole milk powder, organic cane sugar), croissant crumb (sugar, wheat flour, water, butter, egg, milk powder, salt, barley malt syrup, yeast). Cocoa solids: 55% minimum.
The milk chocolate bar contains just 31% sugars. It is suitable for vegetarians, and there's a notice explaining that it might include traces of nuts.
Heist describes this bar as "extremely rich" with "malty notes" and "a hint of toffee and burnt sugar." The micro-batch chocolate is stone-ground and refined for 48 hours for purity in terms of texture and flavour.
This 80g bar is packaged inside a hand-switched envelope, which again adds to the excitement of opening this bundle. I carefully unthreaded the white cotton as it felt wrong tearing into the padded envelope like some sort of animal.
Inside is a golden bar of chocolate, like a prize for opening it so gingerly. The chocolate bar is wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper and golden foil, sealed with a circular Tomkins logo sticker.
The traditional shape chocolate bar is shiny and cleanly snaps into 24 segments. It doesn't translate into 24 portions though, as I quizzically chomped my way through four pieces at a time thanks to its complex characteristics.
As soon as I peeled back the foil, a heady aroma escaped, with forceful earthy notes, and hints of smoke, molasses, and Marmite, with a touch of mushroom. It's a completely different fragrance from the creamy, buttery, fruity aromas I was expecting to find.
I tasted as I was taught, by letting the chocolate melt slowly on my tongue to reveal the intricacies of the cocoa. The rich chocolate is quick to yield its flavours, which match with my initial observations. In the beginning, this bar behaves more like a dark chocolate in that it's largely devoid of any sweetness or creaminess and is earthy, with hints of yeast and malt. A subtle creaminess and sweetness develops towards the end of the melt, more closely resembling the finish of a milk chocolate.
The nuggets of croissant a nice crunch, and reveal hints of buttery caramel, with just a touch of salt in there too. There's a good ratio of croissant crumb to chocolate.
The aftertaste is a sweet, with the croissant flavours playing off the malty characteristic in the chocolate.
Letting it melt slowly may not be the best way to eat this bar though. Chewing the chocolate skips the darker notes and fasts forward to the creaminess and sweetness, while letting the buttery caramel notes of the crunchy croissant flecks rejoice. The malty mushroom-like qualities are still present, but are pushed into the background, letting the sweeter notes shine.
Whichever way you choose to eat this bar, it's complex and different yet highly addictive. It's ever so easy to demolish half of this bar without even noticing, while trying to decipher the cacophony of flavours it presents.
If you like dark milk chocolate and love croissants, you need to give this a go. Keep it away from the kids though. They'll love it but won't appreciate the finesse of this micro-batch, stone-ground, collaborative chocolate bar.
Heist x Pollen Croissant Butter Milk Chocolate Bar Review
RRP: £6.00 | Heist Chocolate | Shop now
Deep, dark, and sophisticated, this is a grown-up milk chocolate bar spiked with caramelised croissant crumbs. Heist has created a bar that behaves like a dark chocolate, then a milk chocolate, and on top of that you get the buttery caramel notes from Pollen's handiwork. It's complex, unexpected, and yet very, very addictive.
Where to Buy Online
You can buy this bar from Heist Chocolate's website (£6). A selection of Heist Chocolate bars can normally be found at Penylan Pantry (Cardiff), St Fagans Museum (Cardiff), Treat Pontcanna (Cardiff), Bloc Coffee (Cardiff), Pettigrew Bakery (Cardiff), The Plug (Dinas Powys), Brecon Chocolates (Brecon), Wolf Wine (Frome), Fromie (Frome), and The Newt in Somerset (Bruton). I believe this collaboration bar is also available in Manchester's Pollen Bakery.
What should I try next - Heist's Orange Marmalade 70% Dark Chocolate or Heist's Girls Who Grind Coffee (GWGC) collaboration bar, Espresso & Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate? Let me know in the comments below.