He's been at it again, taking ingredients like lingonberry, Roquefort cheese, and croissants and blending them into sumptuous chocolate treats.
I am, of course, talking about Paul A Young's and his Valentine's Day Collection for 2019. It landed in his three London stores on Friday 1st February, and is also available via mail order for those of us living outside the M25.
Paul's theme this year is to celebrate equality while charting the journey of falling in love. It's all about the romance, the thrill and excitement, the adventure, and ultimately, the long-lasting happiness. This concept is condensed into a dozen key milestones which are now immortalised in the form of chocolate.
1. Swipe Right (a.k.a. Dating App)
It starts with finding "the one." In chocolate terms, this is represented by a Guittard 38% milk chocolate shell with fudgy cookie dough, pieces of Classic Fudge Brownie, and Sea Salted Caramel. If you've ever had the pleasure of devouring one of Paul A Young's legendary brownies, you'll agree that this wonder product is ideal for including in such a chocolate - it really is love at first sight (and taste - nom).
2. The First Date
For the first date, Paul wanted to represent a night at the movies, so clearly it has to feature popcorn. Indeed it does. A milk chocolate shell conceals a Valrhona 36% caramelised milk chocolate and Maldon sea salt ganache which is rolled in caramelised milk chocolate and fine popcorn pieces, for both flavour and texture.
3. First Kiss
How do you translate the tingle and excitement of a first kiss into chocolate? Mint, spices, and popping candy, of course! A rectangular shell of Guittard 35% Soie Blanche white chocolate contains a tart, lively sherbet. The curious and complex sherbet is made from icing sugar, ascorbic acid, popping candy, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, bicarbonate of soda and essential oil of peppermint.
4. Love at First Sight
Paul's concept may well be that the heart skips a beat, but it sounds to me more like a deep and dark passion. Here a pink splattered Guittard 91% dark chocolate shell is filled with 100% cacao solids caramel.
5. First Holiday
Boy, this couple moves fast! We're already whisked away on a romantic weekend to the city of love, Paris. This also happens to be one of the more edgy combinations Paul has devised. A dark chocolate shell envelops a Roquefort and red wine ganache, which is rolled in Guittard 62% Eureka Works dark chocolate with toasted baguette pieces to add some crunch and texture. The decoration is inspired by the French Tricolour.
What do you think about combining chocolate with a sheep milk blue cheese and red wine? Let me know in the comments below.
6. Let's Move In Together
Now we're getting serious. Moving in together is a big step, and involves a trip to Ikea (panic not - at least not this time around - for Paul sidestepped combining chocolate with meatballs). A key Swedish flavour is lingonberry and this is set on another Scandinavian favourite, sweet liquorice, in caramel form, all wrapped inside a shell of Duffy's 55% Venezuela milk chocolate.
7. The Proposal
Our happy couple plan to tie the knot, and after asking "will you marry me?," the obvious celebration is with a glass of bubbly. Champagne, together with its best friend, strawberry, star as a puree, mixed with Guittard 38% Soleil d'Or milk chocolate and 35% Soie Blanche white chocolate.
8. The Big Day
A big wedding needs a big cake, and so Paul's condensed the flavours into a bite. A Valrhona 66% Caribbean dark chocolate shell wraps around a dark chocolate cake ganache with a chocolate buttercream layer, which is also flavoured with El Dorado demerara rum.
Clearly, our lovely couple are chocolate addicts and I'm sure they'd jet off to an exciting chocolate tourist destination somewhere around the world. St Lucia would be pretty cool. Paul seems to have had similar thoughts as orange stars heavily in this truffle. A half-dome of orange-coloured white chocolate is filled with an AquaRiva Blanco tequila ganache infused with both fresh orange juice and orange oil. Zesty, zingy, and refreshing.
10. Domestic Bliss
Breakfast in bed is the theme of this chocolate, which could have gone many ways. English Breakfast Tea? Porridge with a swirl of golden syrup? Sourdough toast with raspberry jam? Nope. This delicious-sounding sphere of caffè latte ganache is topped with caramelised croissant pieces. This classy, elegant, and simple truffle sounds delicious.
11. Wedding Anniversary
A year has already passed our happy couple by, and the natural gift here is an oversized bouquet of red roses. In the world of chocolate, that translates as a Guittard 65% Peru dark chocolate shell filled with a delicate fresh cream rose ganache.
12. Happily Ever After
The final chocolate in this collection thankfully focuses on the sweet and long lasting relationship rather than starting a family.
I'm not sure how you'd turn sleepless nights, temper tantrums, and the smell of a newborn baby into chocolate form. Please do leave a comment below if you have any ideas that could work.
The final chocolate is a rectangular shell of Guittard 38% Soleil d’Or milk chocolate filled with a sweet honey caramel.
For a Valentine's Day gift that takes your loved one on a chocolate tasting journey, head to London and pick up a beautiful box of these Valentine's Day chocolates. Get yourself to Wardour Street in Soho, Camden Passage in Islington, or The Royal Exchange on Threadneedle Street.
My choice of chocolates would be Let's Move In Together, The Big Day, Honeymoon, Domestic Bliss, Wedding Anniversary, and Happily Ever After. Swipe Right, The First Date, Love at First Sight, and The Proposal are all bound to be sure-fire winners.
I am curious, from a technical perspective, about the taste of First Kiss and First Holiday. These are the types of chocolate truffles that I love to see, as they push the boundaries of flavour profiles, fusing unusual tastes or rare combinations together in a bite. It's a skill in which Paul A Young is extremely proficient.
Friday also saw the addition of a new range of foil-wrapped solid dark, milk, or white chocolates. Flavours include Caramel Crunch; Fig and Hazelnut; Lemon and Poppy Seed; Café Latte; Orange Crunch; and 64% Madagascar Dark Chocolate with Maldon Sea Salt.
I'd add one of each of these to my chocolate box...