Paul A. Young doesn't need pomp and circumstance to sell his chocolate creations, but he does know that often they're gifts for others so beautifully packages them in a simple, but effective manner. The solid box is wrapped with ribbon that adds a dash of colour to the affair and primes the chocolates ready to give to a loved one.
The difficulty with someone else choosing your chocolates for you is that you don't know what you're getting. Thankfully in store Paul let me try the Marmite truffle, a sea salted caramel and a milk sea salted rocher so I knew what they were. This time I'm faced with a box of 15 of Paul's finest creations, without knowing what most of them are. This certainly adds to the fun and precludes me from having a pre-conceived idea of what they are.
The first I believe was a sea salted caramel. The shell was perfect. It was much softer and forgiving than a Charbonell et Walker truffles that can be a bit like a gob stopper at times, but this one was perfectly balanced in terms of texture. The flavours were soft and delicate. There was no unnatural edge to them as Paul doesn't use any artificial flavourings or preservatives. Normally I'm not a huge fan of caramel as it can be overly sweet, nor am I normally a lover of chocolate with sea-salt in it. But on this occasion I can truly appreciate the perfect balance of the two in a way that is not overpowering but just sumptuous.
When you put it in your mouth the caramel seems to evaporate and titillate every hidden, unknown part of your mouth. If anything about this truffle was un-natural - it was the sensation. Remarkable.
The second I tried I'm not entirely sure what it was (I've been told by The Chocolate Consultant that it’s the Lost Malawi Tea). I'd take a punt at it being a dark chocolate creation, I'd also take a guess that it was made with Valrhona. But whatever it was, it was fantastic. The casing is very thin and crispy, as your teeth push through this surface you're very quickly aware of the very soft and sensuous filling.
But it is the flavour that is remarkable. As it sits on your tongue the flavours seem to open up like a quick film of flowers opening up as David Attenborough has on his documentaries. The flavours seem to wait for the right moment and then spring into action - not only taking your whole mouth captive, but seemingly working up past your ears and into the top of your head. Sensational.
I'm not entirely sure what the third was. There were hints of rose, passion fruit all coated in wonderful milk chocolate. The thing to notice here is that they were delicate like a dusty, dewy coating on a rose as you walk out of your front door. But then they sort of turn into desert oasis. It's hard to explain why, but I feel that it’s the fruity flavour that seems to get more intense as you let it dissipate in your mouth but surrounded by a sweet flavour which tastes barren compared to the filling.
I'm next met with another that I couldn't place, but it did have a note of rose oil. This one was much more intense and punchy than the others. It really grabs you. It's slightly more granular than the others as there's a slight burnt tongue sensation to it.
This one was a great alternative to the softer natured truffles and ganaches.
This one is sage and chestnut (thanks) There's a non-descript aroma but I'm fairly confident theirs a vanilla edge to it. But whatever it is the flavours work incredibly well with the milk chocolate.
All the flavours are of the sweet tone, but different sections of that rainbow. The texture may be slightly granular (and I mean very slightly) but overall it’s a combination of flavours I've never had before and would love to try one again.
And now we change tack and go onto a solid milk chocolate offering. The thing is with Paul's chocolates you don't know if you're going to get one with a very soft centre that ends up dribbling off your lips or something solid like this one.
But what I do know is that it is rapturous but baffling. It feels and tastes like there's miniscule cinders of solid caramel - but I just can't see them. And I hate/love it for that. But what I do know is that it has a gorgeous, well-rounded sweet character that may not look anything out of this world, but trust me this 'simple' chocolate is perfectly crafted.
Next I found myself confronted by the truffle which was wrapped in a blue metal foil. Knowing that it was the port and stilton truffle I was slightly apprehensive. But there was absolutely no need to feel that way. I'm a big lover of Port and Stilton, but like most, the thought of combining such an overtly savoury flavour with chocolate isn't that common. Trust was there, however, as the previous truffles were fantastic.
The flavours were subtle - initially soft, balanced and without any hint of the blue cheese. But after a while, and as the dark chocolate notes subsided, the port started to take prominence. But it was nothing more than a little nudge. The stilton flavour took second stage and only came through as the truffle melted away into nothing.
Next I tried another white chocolate which I believe was the white chocolate rose. It looked fascinating, with a slight resemblance to a white fez hat, but with the taste of summer. The filling is light like a sorbet but still full of flavour.
I enjoyed this one by gently breaking open the shell and then feeding myself the contents with slivers of the white chocolate - picking at it like it was an ice cream. This is a perfect one for those that like delicate, but sweet flavours.
The next looked fantastic as well. The spiral formed case was a gorgeous dark chocolate and filled with a fruity dark chocolate centre that soft to touch and tantalising on the taste buds.
I enjoyed this as, although it being dark chocolate, was still light. There was a sensation of ascending through the clouds on the way to sunnier climes. Delicious.
I just loved the milk chocolate heart. Not only did it look great with the pearlescent red and ivory decoration - which made it twinkle under the lights, but it tasted fruity, sexy and erotic.
The aroma was sweet and was a great introduction to the fructose flavours held within. It also tasted like one half of the heart was sweeter than the other. But I put that down to the flavours building on top of each other as I worked through it. This one was a riot of flavours that shouldn't be missed.
I then witnessed the classic dark truffle which was dusty beyond belief and I just love chocolates that get you all messy. I made the mistake of touching my jeans after and was then coated by the stuff - fantastic!
As you bight in to it the powdery coating hits your mouth first giving it a dry sensation. After that the dark chocolate truffle centre softens the edges of the dryness. After you've consumed it you'll find yourself licking your lips and checking to see if you've got any of it on your face. The experience bought a smile to my face!
I absolutely loved the next one. It was speckled with yellow and I just hoped it was a lemon one. Thankfully it was. Not only that, but it had a real lemon flavour that set itself apart from other lemon chocolates I've had in the past that have a fake taste. This was totally natural.
As you bite in the tip of your tongue gets the first chance to taste the filling as its fairly runny. After that your taste buds get its chance. At that time their appeared to be a custard type flavour that gave it roundness that was sublime. I don't know if anyone else has found this, but it seems the filling disappears quicker than the casing which gives you a gorgeous milk chocolate flavour at the end. Delicious. I could easily get through just a box of these in an evening.
I couldn't place the next one. It had a sort of lychee flavour. And I don't like not being able to tell what it was. It may not have hit the high notes as the previous one. But there was a different type of character.
Wow! This next one is awesome. At first I thought it was going to be solid as the one with the same design and shape was above. But it was intensely fruity.
The flavours really hit the back of your mouth it a rhapsody of flavours but then evaporated like the morning's fog and turned into a glorious milk chocolate flavour that was so soft and smooth, it felt unreal. It left me craving for more!
And this last one was another sea-salt caramel within a lovely milk chocolate shell. But the flavours were different. There was a hint of roast beef that's well cooked. It must have been the natural salt used because the flavour was fairly prominent. I did absolutely love it.
And now for the review. I promise to engage the critical part of my brain as well as the euphoric.