Live tasting with Per Liss at William Curley

New dessert launches at William Curley

New dessert launches at William Curley

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.

Per Liss in William Curley's Belgravia shop

Per Liss in William Curley's Belgravia shop

Chocolate Macaroon

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.

Chocolate macaroon

Chocolate macaroon

Pistachio macaroon

Pistachio macaroon

Hazelnut bouchee

Hazelnut bouchee

Pistachio Macaroon

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.

Hazelnut Bouchee

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.

‘Jaffa cake’

'Jaffa cake'

'Jaffa cake'

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

Hazlenut almond sable

Hazlenut almond sable

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.

Yuzu Cake

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.

Yuzu ganache cake

Yuzu ganache cake

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!

and our Links manager


  1. Louise @lou31 October 11, 2010

    Hi Martin,
    Your photos are beautiful! I’ve had my eye on the dessert bar for a while – just need to get around to going!

    I think I may have seen you and Per at Paul A Young on Saturday before you went over to William Curley. You were asking about Paul, and he was at the Brownie Bake-off on Old Street?
    An account of that event (which I won!) is here:
    Will be adding my own write-up shortly.

  2. Martin Christy October 11, 2010

    Thanks Louise, done in a bit of a rush though as I was trying to get the post finished in the shop (had to fake it a bit back at home in the end though, final touching up!) You shouldn’t definitely check out the dessert bar sometime.

    Yes, that was us in Paul’s shop, stopping by for Per to stock up on bars to take back to Sweden.

    Well done for the brownies, when do we get to try them?!

  3. Masur (Per) October 18, 2010

    Sorry for this late reply. I had an enjoyable afternoon together with Martin. Thank’s Martin.
    Congratulations to the win Louise!
    Wednesday last week I met Satiago Peralta from Pacari when he talked about Pacari and Raw chocolate at an event at Ecuador Swedish embassy. Friday to Saturday I attended the annual Chocolate Festival in Stockholm. A total of 15 100 visitors is pretty good.

  4. Adriana Penaloza January 5, 2011

    Dear Sir,
    I’m a student of Food Technology from the Criollo cacao land (Venezuela), and I’m making a research about chocolate sensory evaluation, chocolate positive and negative attributes, requirements and methodology, so I need some information about this, documents or anything from trusted source (author and date). It’s very important that the information has author and date, because I must have a bibliography.
    These are some items I have to talk about:
    Tasting performance request or legislation.
    Assessment panels (number of panelists).
    Tasting room conditions.
    Chocolate Sensory attributes.
    Analytic Sensory methodology to the chocolate tasting (What Sensorial Test I should use).

    If you consider that you can help me I will be most grateful.
    Please contact me again if you can help me in any way.
    Adriana J. Peñaloza A.
    Postdate: I don’t know why, but I have not received any help so now. I have sent this enquiry to prestigious partnerships, organizations and manufactures from Europe and The United States, but no one has anything, they say they have no information about those topics. But I don’t believe them. I am not asking for confidential information, I am only making a research for my university.

  5. Alex_Rast January 9, 2011

    Ms. Peñaloza: (I assume the feminine attribution is correct? Sorry if not)

    I think the difficulty here is in your specification “It’s very important that the information has author and date”. I don’t think it will be difficult to get information about the topics you specify, but it should be noted that very, very little of it is in *written* form. Most of this kind of thing passes round organisations and people by word of mouth and/or personal visits, along with oftentimes internal company knowledge. Sometimes there are professional seminars on these topics as well, but again, these tend to produce a minimum of written material.

    It should also be noted that there a LOT of information is confidential regarding processes and methods within chocolate producing companies. I’ve never been precisely certain why this is the case, but chocolate manufacturers tend to be a very guarded group, on the whole.

    Another issue is that the question of chocolate evaluation is very much a field in flux, with no clear consensus on a broad variety of topics related to tasting chocolate. Part of this has to do with the divergent objectives of the consumer chocolate market (by far the largest sector, and thus the one where the involved companies are likely to have the resources to devote time to analytic study of the problem) and the fine chocolate market (where a lot depends on the individual specifics of the manufacturer’s process, and where in any case manufacturers of necessity tend to have to focus on internal production).

    Nonetheless, the prevailing effect is the first one. You might look at industry journals, which occasionally have some pieces regarding this, but I think the most productive strategy will be to relax your requirement for documentability. I don’t think the people you’re talking to are hiding anything by saying they have no information.

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