So many Chocolates to choose from and all different prices and sizes , not to mention who is the best, world best, ethical or multi award winning this year !!! Its a minefield out there for us Chocoholics ( Not experts by any manner of means ), so i decided to do a bit of research in the last couple of weeks . I think its fair to say that i have a fair amount of knowledge where Chocolate is concerned , however i decided to base my research on the consumer point of view and not the "Experts" point of view . The consumer after all is the one buying the Chocolates , is it not? In this modern world of social media , our producers of all types of food begin to believe in there own hype and media posts, to the point where the social media is the animal that sells the product whether it is any good or not . So my question one day was - Who actually does produce the Best Chocolates in Scotland at this moment in time ?
I can honestly say that after consuming nearly 300 Chocolates in the last week or so , i am now an Expert !!
I chose to have the highend stores compete against the Artisan Chocolatiers that we hear the most about in 5 different categories as follows:
2. Quality/ Use of Ingredients
5. Presentation/ Packaging /Box
The Competing Scottish Stores and Artisan Chocolatiers were-
1. CocoaMo - Argyll
2. Kimbles - Glasgow
3. Waitrose - Helensburgh
4. Cocoa Black - Scottish Borders
5. The Highland Chocolatier - Perthshire
6. The Chocolate Tree - Edinburgh
7. Marks and Spencer - Aberdeen Store
These 7 are only a very few of the advertising Chocolatiers that exist in this country to date , but are the 7 i have picked out after my own research . It is by no means an extensive list but a personal list due to time restrictions .
All were marked out of a possible 25 points and there were some incredible Chocolates by all the entrants but hands down on every single category my outright winner by a million miles was the UK World Chocolate Master - Ruth Hinks from Cocoa Black . I have to say i have never tried Cocoa Blacks Chocolates before and have only had Cake and Hot Chocolate in the shop in Peebles . I was interested to see whether as a consumer the Bean to Bar Chocolate would be a better flavour and all round chocolate but quickly learned that making Chocolates taste this good is more than just sourcing a good bean . This type of Chocolate making requires a unique skill , understanding of flavours, textures and most importantly being able to combine all this with originality . I am a traditional Chocolate eater and absolutely despise seeing every little chocolate in a beautiful box uniformly cut to size to all look the same . When you open a box of Cocoa Blacks Chocolates they are all different to look at and to tast and the textures are quite unique. I was quite simply blown away by the subtle flavours ( of which you did not need a card to tell you what they were! )and the amazing different textures in each individual Chocolate . The colours , The design on each one and importantly to me , the freshness of each Chocolate . This is quite an achievement for online bought Chocolates to be as fresh as they were . The Packaging was simply black which is fitting to the name ( Although not the best packaging i researched ) and was overshadowed by the contents anyway . The sleeve on the box was the Chocolate selection card which i would have preferred to see in the box but this is quite simply not important when you know the Chocolates that you are about to experience. So this is my point really - The best marketing , most expensive, branding , packaging and media hype does not neccessarily mean you are getting the best Chocolates . Incidentally out of the 7 i researched Cocoa Blacks were the 3 rd cheapest to buy per average Chocolate at £1-16 each. I honestly dont think my review on Ruth Hinks Chocolates can in any way express my pleasure in finding such a brilliant Master at the top of her Game . Keep up this standard no matter how big you become and you will have my backing all the way . Now onto my next challenge .
A Challenge was set to 5 Professional Bakers to produce mouthwatering Cakes and Pastries without any refined or unrefined sugars on the 24th April 2016 at Melanie's Tearoom - Craigard Tearoom in Helensburgh . Could it be done ? Over 300 pieces of Baking were eaten in just under 3 hours and the result was a resounding YES ! With the Government issuing a Sugar Tax, Melanie wondered if the Baking industry could survive should sugar be taxed on all things sweet . The answer was a resounding YES . The Cakes and Chocolates produced by Master Baker Melanie , CocoMo Artisan Chocolatier , The Tea Jenny , Pastisserie Chef at Knockderry House Hotel and Kris at My Home Bakery In Hyndland were absolutely brilliant and proved that refined sugars are not necessary to produce mouthwatering Bakes. Now for our next challenge ???