I write this post on Mothers Day, a celebration of all our mothers. It is also Mothering Sunday, not the same thing at all. In bygone days this was the Sunday when Christians returned to their mother church – usually the cathedral of their diocese – for a special religious celebration.
But, as with most festivals now, Mother’s Day is another great excuse to eat chocolate, the first steps in the build up to the chocolate crescendo that is Easter. And as I didn’t give up chocolate for Lent – it never really crossed my mind actually – I am able to bring you advance news from the chocolate front. A company called Hotel Chocolat very kindly sent me one of their eggs and it’s only fair that I eat it and tell you all about it.
It comes very beautifully and elegantly packaged in black and silver and this one is thick milk chocolate, filled with little praline eggs. As I usually look for the big numbers on dark chocolate it was interesting to read up on milk chocolate. Good quality dark chocolate usually contains a minimum of 50 % cocoa mass, but can go as high as 85 %. Because milk chocolate has more added sugar than dark, as well as dried milk solids, it has a lower percentage of cocoa mass, usually about 30 - 40 %. Hotel Chocolat’s egg is made with 40% cocoa mass, at the very top end of the scale. I checked out the milk chocolate available locally and found that many of the familiar labels have no more than 27% cocoa mass. I couldn’t find anything with 40%, but Green & Blacks has 34%, as does a milk chocolate called Bellarom, bought in Lidl, and Tesco’s own brand Belgian milk chocolate has 32%.
Growing up with Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (20% cocoa mass but not a word against it, not a word!) has anaesthetised my taste buds when it comes to milk chocolate. Some courageous souls have done good work in this area, for example Wayne Schmidt’s Milk Chocolate Comparison page. Says Wayne “I like a pure chocolate flavor that isn't masked by fruity, smokey, or mocha flavors. The after taste should be strong, long lasting and not turn sour.”
So, to June’s Concise Milk Chocolate Comparison Test:
Tesco Belgian Milk Chocolate
Cocoa Solids 32% minimum
A good full rounded taste, strong on caramel. Coats the mouth. Short after taste
Bellarom Deluxe Finest Alpine Chocolate
Cocoa solids 34% minimum
Very pure chocolate taste, light, very little caramel. Pleasant after taste.
Green & Black’s Organic Milk
Cocoa Solids 34% minimum
This has a strong, not altogether pleasant taste, rather sour in the mouth. Burnt caramel.
Hotel Chocolat Egg
40% cocoa solids
An immediate hit of that dairy texture that reminds me of Dairy Milk, followed by a good strong chocolate flavour, sweet in the middle of the palate with a caramel aftertaste.
Hotel Chocolat’s website gives a lot of information about its products and their provenance. Chocolate from the
This approach will be radically different from the industry norm, where the cheap commodity crop is usually exported to
The website also offers a host of other products and options, including treats for vegetarians and vegans.
Hotel Chocolat is also running an Online Easter Egg Hunt, to win one of 20 of these luxury hampers.
The competition is open to everyone (
And, just in time to make us all feel a whole lot better about eating chocolate, comes a claim from science that a compound in unrefined cocoa has enormous health benefits.
Epicatechin is derived from unrefined natural cocoa and Professor Norman Hollenberg of
Britons eat 10kg of chocolate each every year, spending an annual total of £4.3bn. Makes you wonder... who's eating my other 9kg??