It feels like everyone the food-loving world is talking about the newly unveiled ruby cocoa bean (and if you haven’t heard of it, where have you been hiding!?). But if there’s one place to try it, it surely has to be at the chocolate heaven that is Artisan du Chocolat. Famed for their beautiful chocolates, innovative flavours and stunning packaging, rather than going crazy with marketing and advertising, they let the quality of their products do the talking. Last Friday I was lucky enough to go down and try their two newest launches – chocolate ice cream and their ruby chocolate bars. I was welcomed by Camila, the store manager – an absolutely lovely Brazilian woman who was almost as excited as me about the launch!
Now I’ll admit that strangely as a child I didn’t like chocolate ice cream. I found that disappointingly often it had an artificial flavour, a grainy texture and in many cases it didn’t even taste like chocolate at all! As I’ve grown up and been introduced to the joy that is gelato I’ve certainly changed my mind, but I can honestly say I have never had one as smooth, rich and creamy as this one. Made with 100% Colombian chocolate, it’s pumped out in thick swirls and is so rich and indulgent that I literally wanted to savour every last bite – a world away from my usual – absent mindedly shovelling a pint of Ben & Jerry’s down whilst slobbing around on the sofa!
Then it was onto the really exciting part – making my own chocolate bar! The milk chocolate gushing out of their incredible chocolate tap (which I have spent many a time staring at longingly!) has now been replaced by the beautiful glossy pink ruby chocolate, and I was lucky enough to mould, decorate and pipe bars for myself (whilst trying to resist the urge to drink the chocolate straight from the fountain itself!!)
There’s a button to press which measures out two “servings” of the chocolate to fill the mould. After the second pump you have to be quick to remove the mould or you’ll end up with a bit of an overflowing chocolate mess (as I discovered the hard way!). Choosing toppings was an impossible task – with little jars containing all sorts from fudge to popping candy, pistachios and everything in between I wanted it all!
After choosing a few different flavour combinations it was into the blast chiller, and just minutes later the silky smooth chocolate was set!
Then came the hardest part – piping with molten white chocolate – most definitely not as easy as it looks!! I kept trying to write like a pen, touching the chocolate block with the end of the piping nozzle and squeezing a little too hard.. but for a first attempt I wouldn’t say this is too bad!! (Though I am annoyed I didn’t get a picture of my third attempt, which I think was my best of the lot!).
Finally while my chocolate bars went in for a final set I was taken round the shop to sample all their incredible chocolates – a chocoholic’s dream! I admitted to Camila that whilst I absolutely love chocolate I rarely buy chocolate this lovely for myself as it just feels too special! She said many of their customers are the same, and we both agreed that it’s sad how many people (myself included!) don’t think themselves worthy of fancy or expensive things!
She kindly insisted on letting me try everything, from their best selling salted caramels, their classic pearls (which come in all colours and flavours – the pistachio was my favourite!), rochers, truffles and ‘Os’ – round discs (which come filled with the most heavenly centres, including classic praline, summery passion fruit and a floral honey). Their couture chocolates are stunning.. some of them I knew I’d love – how can you go wrong with cinnamon or ginger!? Some I was a little more apprehensive about though – I think tobacco, lime & basil and star anise & coffee were the strangest I tried, but yet every single one works, with the most subtle and unique flavour combinations to make each one different and so special.
Then it was onto the chocolate coated nuts and the spreads. I’ve had their chocolate coated nuts before and I honestly couldn’t choose between them! Each type comes in a different brightly coloured tin and with combinations like coconut macadamia and giandjula almond how can you possibly be dissapointed!? Last but not least – their spreads. As a coffee lover I’ve bought their espresso spread before but their new caramel macchiato flavour is something else!! Much as I love coffee as a drink, coffee-flavoured things are fairly new to me – until recently I wasn’t a fan of coffee cake but now I’d say it’s one of my favourites! I could definitely see myself using their coffee spread in my baking.. though admittedly with quality does come a fairly hefty price tag, though I’m no stranger to spooning expensive spreads straight from the jar!
As if all of that wasn’t enough I was packed off with an incredibly generous goody bag – safe to say I left feeling very spoilt and absolutely stuffed full of incredible chocolate.. and trust me when I say you *need* their ice cream in your life!! For the next few months you can go down and personalise your own ruby chocolate bar with any toppings you’d like and a personalised message too – the perfect gift 🙂