The wonderful people at Demarquette sent over this production selection box which they'll be launching to co-inside with the Chelsea Flower Show. I've delayed the review until now for a number of reasons, firstly because they hadn't loaded it onto their site so that you lovely people can pre-order it. I also didn't want to review it before I had judged at the International Chocolate Awards because I wanted to take part with as little prejudice as possible -especially as no other judge had tried them. The main reason, however, is that I just wanted to sit down and communicate my thoughts with a clear head - as I know Marc's chocolates are always best enjoyed when you're best able to let them be your sole focus.
As you can see from the above photograph the caramels were sent in a box that was just used to transport them to me. The final packaging will be much different, the quality of the chocolates, however, will be exactly as intended. The reason that Marc and Kim sent me their chocolates was to receive my feedback. All chocolatiers will seek opinion from trusted chocolate lovers. The chocolates that finally go on sale in a couple of weeks are likely to be slightly different. Marc will tweak based on the feedback he receives, but from my point of view I can' t see too much room for improvement.
The selection box contains a range of chocolates containing ingredients that many will have growing in their herb garden or have in their kitchen to cook with. As a huge fan of Mint I just had to start with this one. I was absolutely amazed by the clarity and freshness of this chocolate. The mint was certainly powerful to start but that dissipates, softens and blends into the caramel. The dark chocolate shell eventually pushes through and takes centre stage. It was this freshness that I found to be the dominant feature and just typifies Marc's approach to chocolate.
Fennel and Honey are both ingredients that I feel aren't used enough in food in general, and certainly not with chocolate. At first I found the combination of flavours unusual, but as the melt progressed the flavours blended well. Despite the honey being at the forefront and largely the primary flavour, the fennel is noticeable. Now I did suggest that the fennel should be more evident, but I'm not sure whether the final version will feature the herb with more prominence.
The Carrot, Rosemary and Seal Salt offered such a wide variety of contrasting flavours, but it worked. The sea salt held the base line, the carrot a large part of the centre ground and the rosemary jutted out at the top. I might be a touch strange, but perhaps a touch more of the carrot, but I might regret saying that as I found it very pleasant.
I loved the Roasted Peppers with Olive Oil without reservation. I believe that peppers have a flavour profile that just cries out for chocolate. The slight acidity is mellow and holds above the olive oil which offers a much flatter profile. Combined they’re just great. I don’t think Marc could improve this one.
When these caramels get sent out to the wise people that have pre-ordered them I just know they'll be as appreciative as I am. Freshness is something that defines this selection.
You can pre-order this selection box here.