If you've enjoyed fine chocolates well relaxing in British Airways' First Class cabin, there's a good chance you've sampled the creative work of Leeds-based Lauden Chocolate.
I've only ever turned right on an aircraft, so hadn't sampled Stephen and Sun Trigg's handiwork - until now. When I spotted their new packaging on display at the Speciality Food Fair, I knew I had to find out more.
Stephen stood in front of a banner decorated with an impressive collection of his customer's logos. He explained that besides supplying the likes of Fortnum & Mason, Lauden Chocolate also ship their chocolates for the enjoyment of discerning customers of high end restaurants, Cunard, and British Airways First Class, amongst others.
Immediately, I got the impression this was an award-winning business based around the creation of chocolates with clear and concise flavours. Reading up about Stephen and Sun, their focus is on creating "chocolate high on flavour and low on sugar".
I received a sample tin of six chocolates to better understand Lauden Chocolate's proposition. I may not have been in my own "private, spacious suite" with "fully flat bed" cruising at 35,000 feet on a British Airways Dreamliner, but that didn't mean I couldn't replicate the luxury food experience at home.
Opening the sleek black metal tin started the experience. It had a theatrical feel to it, as I lifted the lid, pulled out the menu card, and lifted the paper insert to reveal the chocolates. It felt like Christmas!
And there they were. Six beautiful looking chocolates in three flavours. The aroma of mint and dark chocolate leapt out at me, tempting me ever closer.
The inscription "We are obsessed with chocolate! We are all about the taste!" appears inside the lid. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with a chocolate obsession.
The three flavours of chocolates I sampled were Salted Caramel, Passion Fruit, and Mint. Each of the chocolates shared an identical dark chocolate form, with the exception of the pretty decorations on the top (green leaves for mint, green stripes for passion fruit, and red and cream strokes for salted caramel).
Let's begin with the one that dominated the initial scent released as I opened the tin.
Resembling its aroma, the taste was just as punchy, but held back from fully overpowering the chocolate. In the mouth, the fresh mint builds up rapidly before gently fading back down enough to allow the dark chocolate notes to shine through. It's a strong dose of mint but tempered with the right amount of dark chocolate to perfectly tame it in time.
First you get the taste of the fruity dark chocolate before a really sour kick from the 100% real passion fruit rushes in, taking you aback. The fresh, tart, and tangy flavour dominates before the dark chocolate swoops in to pull the overall taste back down. This is a very bold chocolate with fresh, clean flavours that don't shy away - and I like that very much.
From its time in the sealed tin, the passion fruit chocolate had taken on subtle qualities from the mint chocolates that sat next to it. While it didn't negatively impact the overall flavour, it did taint it slightly. It was most noticeable in the aftertaste once the passion fruit zing had quietened down.
Prepare for an explosion of runny caramel when you bite into this one. As you may know, I'm not a fan of salted caramel, which is often too heavy on the salt. This rich, buttery caramel had very subtle hints of French Fleur de Sel salt in it that was barely noticeable - the way salted caramel ought to be made. The dark chocolate helps tame the sweet caramel towards the end.
Again, the aroma of the fresh mint had leached into this chocolate inside the tin, tainting the flavour towards the end just a little. However, I really liked the unusual combination of mint and salted caramel with dark chocolate and reckon it has potential as a flavour in its own right.
All six chocolates shared common traits. They all made use of thin dark chocolate shells, they all had powerful flavours, but above all, they were all fresh and vibrant.
Now I'm left with an empty tin that's far too good to recycle and a desire to try more of these Yorkshire bites. Salivating over the menu card, I can see the pair have a wide range of 18 tempting chocolates available, including Lychee & Rose, Spiced Praline, Matcha Green Tea, Sour Cherry, and Blackcurrant & Redcurrant. If they're anything like these, expect the flavours to be full-on yet refined.
I can't see the tin available for sale on the website, but they do sell boxes of mixed chocolates as well as single-flavour boxes here.
In the meantime, you'll find me quoting up a British Airways First Class flight to St Lucia to test whether chocolate tastes different at 35,000 feet. In the name of science you understand....
Lauden Chocolate Tin Review
RRP: £7.00 | Lauden Chocolate | Shop now
Great things come in small packages, and this is no exception. I loved the elegant look and feel of the tin. The six chocolates looked flawless and were delicious, with clean and crisp flavours. In the tin, the strong mint flavour had ever-so slightly tainted the other chocolates.