Normally the only way you can get me to like white chocolate is get me exceedingly drunk and shove a wodge of fivers in to my hand. I've now found a second way: add popping candy and a liberal dose of add lemon oil. Seeing as Thorntons may be incredibly good at getting me drunk, and they've never tried bribery, their only option was to come up with this playful and zesty block of white chocolate which should appeal to the more open-minded of you.
Even though the sunshine is just a distant memory for many of us and we all may need a bit of a lift, the best way to do that is to go back to our childhood when there were so much more interesting sweets to enjoy, and for me popping candy was one of those treats that bring back the happiest memories. Even though in my advanced years I still love popping candy but with this bar it’s the actual flavour, rather than the razzmatazz in my mouth that I appreciate the most.
So often I feel gastronomically abused with white chocolate, it seems to have been mixed with the entire crop of Madagascan vanilla as well as fields upon fields of sugar - each bar of most commercial white chocolate feels as far removed from real chocolate as chewing on plasticine in a bath of toffee. Not here. There's a distinct earthiness with a dose of freshness from the lemon that just reminded me of Cuba with the breeze blowing the sugar mills that I visited [above]. Here too, there was razzmatazz from the former factory workers who put on a vibrant dancing display. But this bar was more of a surprise than the rustic nature of the Cuban hinterland.
The Milky Bar Kid would be very dissatisfied with this bar for its for kids of yesteryear and not of today - Thorntons offers plenty much for them already.
I love been surprised by chocolate. This white chocolate bar does that. The test would come if I'd prefer this over their Tonka bar, I doubt I would on most days, but if you're like me, you'll fancy something a little bit different every now and then.
I can’t believe it’s been over seven months since I last tried some Pralus dark chocolate. Then it was the best bar that I’ve reviewed, and its testament to the sheer quality of the Chuao bar that only the Friss Holm Chuno has got close in that time. Whilst a year ago I tried the Chapon Cuba which was also exceptional, I therefore had hoped for great things from this Pralus creation.
I won’t need to go over the very simplistic packaging as this is the sixth in this series of 100g dark chocolate bars, but I do find it pleasant, if a touch dour (although the new packaging is more elegant). The bar itself was highly polished when I first had it, but after a few months of being moved around the chocolate stash it has become a touch tarnished. But it is obvious that this bar was well put together. That is until you break the bar, after the wonderful snap you’ll find a much larger number of air bubbles than is normally the case with their bars. Some have said that Pralus has gone downhill in recent years – perhaps this lack of attention to detail is a sign of that?
In terms of aroma it was also fairly mute – a cross between aged rubber and mango. Interestingly the first thought was of Barbados beaches with a slightly edge and minimal acidity. Having been to Cuba as well there was nothing there that reminded me of the Island other than a delightfully fresh flavour – but I didn’t really expect it to.
If I had to describe an archetypal mild chocolate then this would be it. There are strong similarities with the normal hot chocolate I’ve had recently. There are no rough edges, no over-powering acidity, and no major flavour in fact. It is a very subdued bar. There are mild notes of cherry that pass through hazelnut and then on to almond, but nothing as earthy as I’ve come to expect from them.
In terms of melt it does take a long time for it to being, obviously this is a positive feature, but I’d prefer some more immediate reward from this offering. From expecting a great deal from this bar, I’m left wondering what went wrong? Of course, we can’t expect all of their bars to be from the same “mould”, but I’m sure many people would expect something more broody from the house of Pralus.
In a post recently I commented on the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier. Some took the post the wrong way. Some thought I devalued the role of a chocolatier purely because they don’t turn beans into chocolate. But that is to misunderstand the point completely. My point may have been better framed as “you can’t spend awesomeness when most people want other stuff.” In other words, there is horrendous amounts of money to be made out of chocolate that won’t win any taste awards. With all fairness, there can be no greater case in point with my good friend Richard O’Conner as he as changed the focus of his chocolate business.
Its’s a truism to state that you can have all the finest chocolate in the world. Stuff that makes chocolate aficionados week at the knees. But if not enough people want to part with their money they’ll you’ll be in the crap. Richard started producing his own chocolate, with some rave reviews and I’ll be taking a look at that range of Chocolate and Love bars soon, but the ones I’m reviewing today caught my eye. They’re unashamedly gimmicky. They’re treats and they’re presents. They’re not meant to be taken seriously. They’re a bit of fun. They won’t be entered into the International Chocolate Awards (with a straight face at least).
Richard was kind enough to send me ten bars of these canine and feline-themed bars with each stylised as famous characters of mainly from the big screen. I do believe that these will work most excellently in a retail environment where people can stand there and ask their friends if they can name the characters. I just love the concept.
But these chocolate bars also prove another point I made in THAT article. The packaging includes the line “finest milk chocolate” – what the finest milk chocolate is I couldn’t possibly guess, I’ve not tried it all. But I am sure Richard would proffer the view that it quite possibly isn’t this. And to be honest, I’d willingly accept that.
So, I had a piece and was left with a clear opinion, but thought I would ask the resident milk chocolate lover what she thought, just for clarification. After thinking about it she exclaimed: “it doesn’t taste very chocolaty, just sweet”. In all my years of reviewing chocolate I could never have come up with a description as accurate or as succinct as that. It is profoundly precise.
I’m no real milk chocolate fan, and certainly no fan of chocolate with hazelnut paste or butterfat. What’s more, it appears to contain less than 10% cocoa mass despite having at least 32% cocoa in it. But that won’t stop a huge number of people buying and enjoying this chocolate. That’s one thing I’ve learned, and is often forgotten, I know what I don’t like, but I fully understand I’m in a small minority. The Christmas and birthday present buyers will buy this in their droves. Tourists at gift shops will lap it up. Put simply it is a mistake to purely see chocolate for as a medium of culinary pleasure. Ten minutes in a bumper car can be just as entertaining as a ride in a Ferrari – if that’s your thing.
Now, would I have any of the other nine bars? It’s unlikely. But I have a friend whose family will love them. And at the end of the day, that’s all that counts.