Buying for Valentine’s Day unearthed sensuous treats as I sought mainly Irish made, top quality chocolate. There are plenty of chocolates in supermarkets from well-established labels, and they will serve those who like to stick with what they know. However, I urge you to be more adventurous with your lover, your friend, your person of interest.
Look for the finest of tastes, take a bite and let it melt on the tongue before chewing and moving it across the palate for all the taste receptors to appreciate. For texture, there’s a snap and creaminess. The best chocolate has both.
It all starts with good quality cocoa and has to be handled carefully going through the correct process of tempering – heating and cooling it while moving across a slab with a palette knife.
This is time consuming and time sensitive, so let’s appreciate chocolate makers and enjoy a few moments of pleasure. And, to add to the many pluses, dark chocolate (with the highest amount of cocoa solids) has health properties: fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc, and as many antioxidants as some fruits.
Feeling better? Happy Valentine’s Day.
Award-winning former pastry chef Gráinne Mullins could be a contestant on The Great Pottery Throw Down, applying colour to her chocolates like a fine artist. Flavours are intensely fruity (try the Morello cherry) or nutty, salty, but most importantly these hearts deliver a refined chocolate taste and texture which cracks perfectly. If the chocolate hearts have run out when you read this, buy the bonbons. A loving treat in any shape. Online: Grachocolates.com.
For the vegan in your life, these bars are made in Dublin by Clare Tait. In an attractive, compostable gift box they are gluten and dairy free with 54%-57% organic cocoa solids, with less creamy organic coconut milk instead of dairy milk. Crispy additions of flavours include lemon, strawberry, raspberry, mint, ginger, salted peanut (you can order without the latter). Available in 37 retail outlets around Ireland, such as the Old Bank House in Kinsale and Ode to Earth Killarney, and as well online (chocolateyclare.com) where delivery takes up to three days.