Never ever ever ever give me a box of chocolates. Come to my home empty handed, eat a meal I have slaved over (unlikely) but don’t bring me a box housing some paper trays of small brown things all lined up in fiddly cases. I’ll explain why.
You see, a chocolate box is THE ultimate cheap and thoughtless gift. No one would ever say, I am SO touched you bought me this box of Milk Tray. And then… you’re stuck with it. Impossible to pass onto someone else (as you’d never be as thoughtless as to gift it) and equally impossible to bin. So there it is, sitting on your coffee table, begging to be eaten but with very few mouthfuls you’d actually choose. The first might be too soft, another too squidgy while one might even break a tooth.
But gifting chocolate CAN work. So I thought I’d pick out a few of my favourite bars which could raise an eyebrow, impress the hostess and even melt in your salivating mouths.
French maker, Valrhona was one of the first to describe its chocolate as if it were wine. This bar is a perfectly brilliant size to share around a large table.
Montezuma’s famous organic milk chocolate buttons are rich and sweet. I reckon they’d go down equally well with kids and bigger kids alike.
For a chocolate conscience, munch your way through a bar from The Grenada Chocolate Company. It is rare to find such a very small scale chocolate maker producing fine chocolate where the cocoa actually grows. And all their machines are solar-powered…
Cailler chocolate, on the other hand, dates back to 1897 when Alexandre Cailler, who was bicycling through the town of Broc (Switzerland), discovered the perfect spot to open his new chocolate factory. The rest is Nestle history but his sticky brown stuff is, without doubt, on my short list.
And, I bring you Amelia Rope: my latest find and – quite frankly – my No. 1 go-to-bar at the moment. So much so I tracked Amelia down (like a chocolate addict might) to find out just how sticky her fingers are:
Which chocolate bars did you eat before you launched your own? When I was young I loved Ripple, Flake and Milkybar.
Which is your favourite bar? I love them all – it depends on my mood. I do have a real weakness for my coffee bean ones and the hazelnut & sea salt bar!
How long does it take to make up each of the recipes? The ideas can come to me in a flash and then I have to play around with quantities of the ingredients. I rarely get anyone to taste them – against the rules of market research I know!
Which flavour was the biggest challenge? Pale Mandarin – it is so subtle and if you don’t put enough in, it can be lost but too much and it is like Terry’s Chocolate Orange!
Where would you have your last supper? Ideally by the sea, with some sun & a fab cocktail – so probably Bahia (Brazil).
Is chocolate a necessity or luxury? Interesting question – I see it as a luxury, a treat.
What can’t you live without? Maldon sea salt, a scarf (I am always cold) and salted nuts.
Who or what inspires you? People I meet, stained glass windows and travelling to different countries.
Music or silence in the kitchen? Silence if I am creating recipes as I want 100% concentration.
How much chocolate do you eat every day? Far too much!
Finally, if you (like me) feel that chocolate makes the world go round but don’t want to pile on the calories, taste my little OHSO friends…. They taste curiously pleasing considering they are actually good for you. YES! I have found a chocolate that – pretty impressively – makes your tummy happy rather than your hips big. Only 72 calories, this delicious dark Belgian bar is full to the brim of friendly bacteria.
COMPETITION: And, I have a month’s supply (worth £16) of OHSO for 10 lucky Life of Yablon readers. To enter this competition all you have to do is sign up to my blog (top right of homepage), follow me on Twitter and email your name & address to: firstname.lastname@example.org mentioning Life Of Yablon before Wednesday 6th March. The lucky winners will be selected randomly on Thursday 7th March 2013.