A pioneer of the water-based ganache, Damian Allsop’s innovative approach to making chocolate has made him a chocolatier to watch with interest. With his Pure Collection, he offers an intriguing insight into cocoa, showcasing a selection of unflavoured chocolate ganaches based on chocolates made by different notable producers.
The long discreet, matt grey cardboard box looks austere at first glance, but a vibrant orange strip along the side hints at vitality within. The legend on the box,"Damian Allsop Chocolates", has the chemical formula for water (H2O) cleverly inserted into his name– a reference to his trademark water ganaches.
Each of the glossy chocolates within the collection are a neatly-formed, deep, rectangular shape, large enough to offer a substantial taste. A subtle range of markings, from textured scratchings to splatterings of colour, are used to differentiate the six pairs of chocolates from each other. While the flavours vary with the type of chocolate used, the trademark texture of Allsop’s ganache filling is soft and voluptuous, yet with a noticeably clean finish, with none of the fattiness than a conventional cream-based ganache has. This clean texture works particularly well here, allowing the flavours of the different chocolates to shine through.
Eating this collection offers a fascinating insight into the diverse flavours chocolate is capable of. Chocolate producers Amano feature twice in the collection. Morobe 72% using Amano’s Criollo and Trinitario from Papua New Guinea has a lovely citrus kick to start which softens to mellowness. In contrast, the Madagascan 70% from Amano has a soft, fruity rich flavour with sour notes coming through at the end.
Similarly, the two chocolates made using Original Beans’ chocolate are very different from each other. The Piura 75% (using Original Beans’ Piura cocoa from Peru) offers an intense chocolate hit with just the slightest tang at the end while Virunga 70% (using Original Beans’ Congo-sourced cocoa) has a dark full flavour with a red wine sourness. Rounding off the selection are Pacari Raw 72% (from Pacari in Ecuador), which I found mellow with a muted nuttiness and Manjari 68% (Valrhona) with a noticeable bright fruitiness to it.
Allsop’s obsession with capturing the flavours chocolate is capable of has been one of the driving forces behind his move from pastry chef to chocolatier and this collection is a wonderful illustration of what fascinates him about chocolate. For those wishing to learn about chocolate and cocoa varieties, this slender box offers an education. It is also a pleasure to eat, offering a in intense journey into the subtle, nuanced and complex world of chocolate.