Long time member of Seventypercent’s community online Per Liss has been coming to Chocolate Week every year since the annual celebration of fine chocolate in the UK first began in 2003.
Per, better know as Masur in our forum, is also Seventypercent’s Links manager, responsible for maintaining our list of chocolate companies, makers and resources, and for weeding out some of the whackier link requests we sometimes receive from inappropriate candy companies.
He’s become something of an institution and Chocolate week wouldn’t be the same without his annual visit to London.
His trips are also a great chance for us to catch up on chocolate gossip.
Per was over for a conference on Friday and is back off to Sweden tomorrow, so we took the chance of a Saturday pre Chocolate Week trip round a few chocolatiers to get in an early taster of the week.
After quick stops at Paul A Young in Angel and Artisan du Chocolate, we made our way to Pimlico Green for some high-end chocolate desserts.
New patisserie tasting at William Curley’s
So here we find our selves in William Curley’s Belgravia store, sitting down surrounded by some of William’s latest patisserie offerings, accompanied by hot chocolate and cold water.
We started with a plain chocolate macaroon – a full sized model rather than the popular French bite size style favoured by Pierre Herme. The macaroon was soft and cut easily in half. Definitely a real chocolate taste and ‘sweet but not that overwhelmingly sweet’ according to Per.
Certainly good flavours, but neither of us are huge macaroon fanatics, so our pleasure level was merely at ‘normal’. The combination of textures worked well, without any sugary crispness, and the after taste was very clean.
While on a macaroon roll, we thought’s we go for the pistachio – a light crumbly macaroon flavoured with roasted pistachios and a chocolate ganache filling. This was sweeter without the chocolate, and hence had more crunch.
The pistachio flavour was very light, it came through more as a pistachio marzipan effect towards the end, rather than a nutty burst at the beginning.
This is so new it’s not even on the menu yet and a description had to be whisked up from the kitchen. Smelling the bouchee there’s right away a good buttery, chocolate, hazelnut aroma. Biting let our teeth loose on the sweet, crunchy hazelnut base.
I tried the base on it’s own without the ganache topping, and the flavour just goes on and on. The layer had a really good crispiness as well, which combined nicely with the ganache toppiong and chocolate coating. I am slightly reminded of a Toffee Crisp, and I’m beginning to suspect William is on some kind of 1970s chocolate confectionery recreation trip.
Not sure about the legality of this, but sticking with the ‘recreation’ theme, next up was a high end fine, turbo charged Jaffa Cake. For those of you not living in the UK, Jaffa Cakes are a McVities biscuit/cake product, consisting of a small biscuit size sponge cake, with a dollop of orange jam type stuff on the top, which is then covered with – let’s be generous – ‘chocolate’.
My main memory of these is a rather dry, sweet sponge and of course fatty, sweet low grade chocolate. Probably tasted quite artificial though. They were never my favourite.
The Curley version is a totally different experience of course. Fully covered with – in this case Amedei – chocolate. The orange flavour is amazingly fresh and full and lingering, the sponge light and melting.
I don’t remember having this kind of taste journey when I sat down to watch telly after coming home from school and was let loose on afternoon snacks – back in the day.
Hazlenut and almond sables
After a short break tasting some esoteric chocolate samples (two choc nerds in the same choc shop, what do you expect?) we took a break from the dark stuff by sampling a Curley biscuit – not a new product, but a nice interlude none-the-less.
Simple and straightforward, a good biscuit recipe, made with good ingredients, very light and loads of butter. The flavours hang on the tongue and really develops after eating, with good nut flavour and light spice.
We finished off with an oval chocolate cake with yuzu flavoured ganache centre – yuzu being a Japanese citrus fruit. Per thought the cake might have been on the dry side, it was the ganache centre that really brought it alive though. The yuzu flavour was outstanding and really lingered.
Basil infused ice cream with blackcurrant compote
Ok, no more chocolate, but one more taster, this time from the new dessert bar menu. This dish is the starter, and we thought it would be a good way to lighten up our palates after all that chocolate.
Basil ice cream is a strange beast, and at first I thought I was eating pesto, until the blackcurrant compote kicks and puts you back in dessert land, making a sweet, savoury combination. An interesting taste journey and it must of worked as we cleaned our plates.
As ever, all the dishes were up to the usual Curley standard and you could say we were just a little chocolated out by the end of it all.
All in all a great start to Chocolate Week and great to catch up with an old friend in such pleasant surroundings. Let’s hope it’s less than a year before we meet again!