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El Tosoro. It translates from Spanish as "the treasure," and aptly lends itself to the vivid red packaging of Willie's Cacao's Magnificent Creations, a series of limited-edition chocolate bars that aren't widely available.
Handmade by Willie Harcourt-Cooze each month, his Magnificent Creations bars pair bean-to-bar chocolate with complimentary or contrasting ingredients to create unique flavour combinations. In a realisation in late 2020, Willie explained that he didn't have the freedom to create "‘the chocolates of his dreams". Difficulties over sourcing unusual ingredients in a cost-effective manner and production complexities meant he'd have to create micro batches of chocolate for just a lucky few.
Willie's Cacao Magnificent Creations Review
That's exactly what he did. The Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 gave Willie the excuse he needed to begin creating limited-run El Tosoro bars just for loyal chocolate club members. Each month, Willie crafts two bespoke bars for members, with each one telling a tale, often influenced by travel. Previous recipes include Papelon con Limon, the Super Oishi, Black Garlic and Miso, Blueberry & Thyme, and Hojicha (Toasted Sencha Tea).
Celebrating over a year of creating these inspired creations, Willie's Cacao kindly sent me a selection to experience these micro-batch flavours for myself. Safely tucked inside a beautifully illustrated (and recyclable) letterbox-sized cardboard box sat eight creations, all packaged in identical bright red cartons embellished with gold foil print. Magnificent packaging befitting of magnificent creations, don't you think?
Join me as I unbox eight limited-edition chocolate recipes, complete with photos and tasting notes, of course!
#35 Blueberry & Thyme
Magnificent Creation #35: Sur Del Lago 70% dark chocolate with blueberries and thyme.
Willie's Cacao Blueberry Thyme Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, blueberries (7.6%) (blueberries, apple juice), cocoa butter, thyme oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 70% minimum.
This bar invites you in with a herbal aroma, together with just a hint of smoke. As soon as you pop it on your tongue and let it melt, the thyme oil kicks in, holding your hand right through to the aftertaste.
The cocoa exhibits quite a savoury quality, so the sweet blueberries help to balance this out. There's also a hint of smokiness that sits in the background that adds depth to the overall proposition. There's a noticeable creamy quality to the bar, and a distinct lack of bitterness.
The blueberry feels a little lost against the powerful thyme flavour, but it does at least introduce both sweetness and chewiness to the bar, both of which I like. Overall, this is a quirky flavour pairing, but the result is perfectly rounded and balanced.
#37 Strawberry & Black Pepper
Magnificent Creation #37: Strawberries and cream chocolate with black pepper.
Willie's Cacao Strawberry & Black Pepper Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Milk powder (37%), cocoa butter, raw cane sugar, strawberries (3.8%), black pepper oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 38% minimum.
A suitable bedfellow to Willie's widely-available Raspberries & Cream bar, this bar trades out the vivid pink hues and raspberries and welcomes in strawberries together with just a hint of black pepper. It wouldn't look out of place at Wimbledon!
A heavenly creamy custard aroma teases you before you taste it. As it melts, there's a flood of buttery croissant notes, with a wave of creamy vanilla flavours ensuing.
The freeze-dried strawberries as crunch, sweetness and a touch of tartness, adding an uplifting zing to this chocolate bar. Meanwhile, the black pepper is surprisingly tame, and only really develops slightly towards the end. You're left with a vanilla aftertaste with a swirl of strawberry notes.
This tastes like summer in a bite. It's comforting, refreshing, and very satisfying.
#47 Yuzu & Almond
Magnificent Creation #47: Yuzu and roasted almonds in Baracoa 65% dark chocolate.
Willie's Cacao Yuzu & Almond Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, almonds (17%), cocoa butter, essential yuzu oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 65% minimum.
This perky little bar emits a lively citrus aroma, although on tasting, the flavour is far more subtle. Orange notes come through, as does a gentle tartness, that balances against the creamy chocolate base.
The almonds add a textural twist and a meek nuttiness, that compliments the yuzu rather than distracts from it.
This summery bar leaves you with a refreshing citrus aftertaste.
#49 Milk Chocolate with Miso
Magnificent Creation #49: Rio Caribe 44% milk chocolate with miso.
Willie's Cacao Miso Milk Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Raw cane sugar, cocoa mass, milk powder (18%), cocoa butter, miso (7%) (soya beans, barley rice, salt). Cocoa solids: 44% minimum.
Miso is a Japanese flavouring ingredient produced by fermenting steamed soy beans with salt and typically kōji (the fungus aspergillus oryzae), although the variety Willie uses here replaces kōji with barley rice. Regardless, it hardly sounds appetising, but when used in small quantities, it delivers a hit of umami - the culinary world's magic ingredient. Think yeasty, salty, sweet and meaty, all rolled into one.
Willie pairs this with 44% Rio Caribe milk chocolate. The milk chocolate appealed to me, the miso did not. Nevertheless, I closed my eyes and tucked in.
There's no escaping the unusual savoury aroma, that was a cross between Marmite and mushroom notes. That mushroom quality translated into the flavour too, alongside a helping of barley and cereal notes, and a touch of saltiness. It's quite a difficult flavour to describe, as it hits all senses. Indeed, that's the umami at play.
The chocolate itself is sweet and creamy, and this jostles against the salty, savouriness of the miso. This bar definitely pushes the boundaries. It's my least favourite from this collection, but it is at least curious, and I find myself going back to it for some reason!
#51 Orange & Burbon
Magnificent Creation #51: Baracoa 65% dark chocolate with bourbon raisins and orange.
Willie's Cacao Orange & Burbon Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, raisins (6%), whisky (5%), cocoa butter, essential orange oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 65% minimum.
Orange and bourbon whiskey come together against a backdrop of Cuban cocoa beans. The generous helping of the golden nectar in this bar means the aroma is a strong, heady mix of ripe orange peel and whiskey.
The flavour of bitter orange takes the lead in the tasting, while the smooth whiskey notes develop in the background. The whisky flavours spike most when you chew down on a raisin, unsurprisingly as they took a bath in the spirit before hopping into this chocolate bar.
Willie manages to coax creaminess out of the chocolate, that helps to balance the strong flavours at play here. Into the aftertaste, there's a warmth that lingers alongside orange and oaky flavour notes.
#53 Blood Orange & Cashew
Magnificent Creation #53: Baracoa 65% dark chocolate with blood orange and cashew.
Willie's Cacao Blood Orange & Cashew Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cashews (13%), cocoa butter, essential blood orange oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 65% minimum.
Similar to the Orange & Burbon Dark Chocolate Bar above, the aroma of this bar reminds me of orange peel, too. However, in this bar, there's no other strong flavours to distract, so it's all about the orange and Cuban cocoa beans.
Picture the most indulgent chocolate orange and you'll get the picture. The blood orange notes work well against the smooth dark chocolate, with any bitterness kept very much at bay. The cashews add to the overall creaminess and add a subtle nutty strand that fades out as you lead into the aftertaste, leaving the blood orange to do its thing.
#56 Dates & Cardamom
Magnificent Creation #56: Awajun 70% dark chocolate with dates and cardamom.
Willie's Cacao Dates & Cardamom Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, dates (20%), cocoa butter, essential cardamom oil (0.1%). Cocoa solids: 70% minimum.
A captivating spicy perfume speaks volumes to you with this bar. The cardamom aroma comes through clearly, and benefits from a dark chocolate fragrance beneath.
The cardamom flavour takes centre stage, with its gentle-yet-fragrant spice dancing away at the front, and it waltzes all the way through to the aftertaste.
The chocolate itself tastes quite dry compared to the others, with a coarse texture, although the soft, chewy pieces of date help to distract from this.
#59 Roasted Walnut
Magnificent Creation #59: Las Trincheras 72% dark chocolate with roasted walnuts.
Willie's Cacao Roasted Walnut Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, walnuts (15%), cocoa butter. Cocoa solids: 72% minimum.
Willie admits this was born out of his desire to create a "proper Walnut Whip". While there's no whipped vanilla fondant filling in this bar, Willie has concentrated on nailing the walnut and chocolate element.
There's a strong toasted walnut aroma, thanks to the heavy handed approach to loading this bar to the brim with roasted walnut pieces. There's also a slightly sweet fragrance beneath this.
The flavour is undeniably nutty, and exactly what you'd expect (and desire) from a walnut chocolate bar. The creamy, crunchy toasted nuts compliment the smooth dark chocolate beautifully. I also detected a hint of red berry notes in the chocolate which enhanced the overall pairing.
Willie's Cacao Magnificent Creations Review
RRP: £2.99 | Willie's Cacao | Shop now°
Combine Willie's passion for creating fine chocolate with minimal ingredients with his love of experimenting in the kitchen and you arrive at these Magnificent Creations. While not zany or wacky, these flavour pairings are measured and considered, delivering perfect harmony each time. Willie has a knack for selecting ingredients that compliment the flavour notes of his cacao, resulting in a big success each and every time.
Where to Buy Online
These Magnificent Creations aren't normally available for sale. You've got three options to get your hands on them though.
- First, you can subscribe to Willie's Cacao's Chocolate Tasting Club here° (£21.99/month plus delivery). The letterbox-sized monthly delivery contains a selection of chocolate bars, including limited-edition Magnificent Creations that you won't find available in the shops.
- Secondly, you can find two Japanese-inspired Magnificent Creation bars in Willie's chocolate tasting kits available here° (£23.50).
- Lastly, you can join the Willie's Cacao email newsletter. Periodically, they release a very limited batch of Magnificent Creations to purchase online, but only for serious chocolate-loving members. It normally happens around twice a year, so subscribe to their newsletter and keep a look out. Details here°.
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This Hot Chocolate Rocks! This is what gives it its incredible richness and depth of flavour. It is 100% natural, containing only two ingredients, cacao and raw cane sugar. Use to make either hot or cold drinks, and for vegan drinks use non dairy milks like almond.
Willie’s Cacao Chocolate Truffle Collection (Pink, Dark and Milk x 36 pieces)
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⭐️ Willie's Cacao San Agustin Gold 88 Colombian Dark Chocolate 80g X 12 Bars
⭐️ Willie's Cacao San Agustin Gold 88 Colombian Dark Chocolate 80g X 12 Bars.
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Have you tried the Willie's Cacao chocolate club yet? If so, did you love what was in the boxes? Let me know in a comment below.