On Sunday 10 July we took Tim Lovejoy, comedian Joy Lycett and guest host Kathryn Ryan on a tasting flight of four on the UK’s finest craft chocolate makers.
To celebrate the British Grand Prix we bring you four of our finest British craft chocolate makers. While British bean to bar chocolate may not be as well-known as British racing green, we think all four of these makers are winners. And it’s not just us – each of these incredible British artisans has won countless awards with its chocolate bars.
To begin we journey to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire where Duffy Sheardown has crafted a very special bar exclusively for the Grand Prix. Before changing lanes and become the UK’s leading milk chocolate maker, Duffy was an engineer for Formula One. Not only that, he helped manage the team that broke the land speed record. He has designed a special wrapper to commemorate this huge achievement. Unwrap the unique packaging, take a bite and savour a little bit of history. Kathryn Ryan chose this sweet, creamy milk chocolate as her pick of the bars.
Then veering south we travel to Dorset where Solkiki are pioneering vegan artisan chocolate that is good for people, animals and the planet and tastes even better. Ever a fan of vegan chocolate, Joe couldn’t wait to try this bar. Next zoom over to Edinburgh and discover a brand new bar from the Chocolate Tree made using rare Colombian beans. Joe couldn’t get enough of the green, earthy notes of this bar. Finishing close to Cocoa Runners HQ, we head to Damson’s craft chocolate factory in Islington where Dom Ramsey crafts his bars. Tim picked this as his favourite bar – he loved the rich, berry notes of this Tanzanian cacao!
These four British chocolate bars (two milk and two dark) all taste different. Savour the bars and you will be amazed at the difference bean origin and the maker’s style has on the texture and flavour of the bars.
THE BRITISH CHOCOLATE GRAND PRIX COLLECTION
The first bar taste was Duffy’s Limited Edition Land Speed bar (Tierra Oscura milk 40%). As you bite into the soft milk chocolate inhale the sweet and fruity aroma. Hints of caramel and butterscotch swirl through dark cherries. A liquorice note rises through the sweetness to give a tingling finish.
Duffy sources the cocoa beans for his chocolate directly from cocoa farmers and co-operatives, ensuring a higher price for the farmer and a better quality product. For this bar he has used Directly-Traded fine cocoa beans bought directly from Dorothy (the farmer) in Panama.
Next up was the Solkiki Maranon Mylk 60% chocolate bar. This ‘milk’ chocolate bar is completely dairy free and instead uses coconut milk to create a sweet chocolate with a silky texture.
The coconut gives the bar a rich creaminess similar to a classic milk with a cooling finish. The bar has an unusual floral caramel flavour and we also detected a fresh coconut note from the milk. The chocolate’s toffee note combined with the coconut gives the chocolate a delicate panna cotta sweetness. This bar has just won Silver at the International Chocolate Awards 2016.
Then Spencer, Tim and the team taste the Chocolate Tree Colombia Huila dark bar. This bar is bursting with layers of complex flavour. Take a bite and rejoice in the intricate notes that overtake you and hit the back of palate.
The bar begins with fresh green spice and just a touch of liquorice before buttery coconut and cream emerge. Underneath discover a sweet floral haze full of rose water and pear drops. We noted just the smallest touch of bitterness before the long lingering finish. A cooling aftertaste leaves behind delicate rose on the tongue.
Chocolate Tree bought the beans for this bar direct from Aldemar Guzman. Aldemar grows his fine flavour cacao in the Huila region of South Western Colombia.
Last but by no means least was London’s very own Damson’s Kokoa Kamili Tanzania 70% bar. The beans are naturally fruity with hints of plum and stone fruits. The smooth bar has a well-balanced acidity. The chocolate tastes like a fine red wine in bar format.
Damson has sourced the beans from Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania. Run by Simran and Brian in they buy beans directly from local farmers at above market prices. Kokoa Kamili then ferments and dries the beans at its purpose built workshop. Taking care of these post-harvest steps means that Kokoa Kamili is able to get the best out of the beans and so get farmers a better price. And at the same time farmers can focus on growing and harvesting their beans