A big thanks to everyone for the lovely comments and congratulations regarding my PhD announcement! It’s really nice to have your support
When I was house-sitting a few months ago, I went out for dinner with three lovely ladies. One of these lovely ladies (in the strictly non-Les Miserables sense) was L-Izzle, who you may recognize from her frequently-excited blog comments regarding butter, cloying-sweet things, and food in general. L-Izzle is a generous soul, and so brought me chocolate presents to this dinner. Sadly, I was on my chocolate embargo at the time, so I hid both bars away for a rainy (read: desperate-for-something-new) day.
Imagine my delight when, a week ago, I remembered that not only did these gift-chocolates exist, but that they were from none other than my favourite Canberra chocolatier, The Curious Chocolatier! Although I’ve already chatted about my favourite TCC bar, the Dark Chocolate with Apricot and Rosemary, this doesn’t mean I have no interest in the other flavours. Far from it. Particularly when there’s a bar in the line-up that showcases my current favourite nut as well as that boon to all sweet things, salt…
The Curious Chocolatier Pistachio and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate
Pistachio can be a bit hit and miss when applied to sweet treats. In some cases its rich, almost-savoury, nutty flavour is allowed to come to the fore (as with Vestri’s chocolate), while in others it tastes more like almond than itself (see Cote d’Or’s chocolate). Unsure as to which side of the spectrum The Curious Chocolatier’s version would fall, I unwrapped the bar with bated breath. Imagine my relief when I uncovered a glossy chocolate liberally studded with roasted whole pistachios, and sprinkled with sparkling crystals of sea salt.
Of course, the true test would be the taste, but I felt good about the chocolate’s prospects. You can’t hide when you’re using whole nuts and, from experience, Heidi is not one to employ sub-standard ingredients.
The aroma was at first simply pleasantly sweet, yet when I turned the bar over to its nut-studded underside, a strong scent of vanilla emerged alongside that of roasted nuts.
I started off with a bite of chocolate that had no nuts on top. This bar uses the same chocolate base as does the Apricot and Rosemary yet, without the herbal notes of the latter, I was able to pick out demerara sugar and vanilla as the highlights of the 54% blend. Moreover, Heidi’s deft hand with the salt enables its subtle tang to accentuate these soft, sweet flavour notes.
Now, the moment of truth. What were the pistachios like, and how well did they play with their fellow salt-and-chocolate classmates? Did they hog the Monkey Bars and then block the others from the slide, or was everyone able to take equal turns before the Recess bell rang?
Readers, they played well. Interestingly, the first thought I had upon sampling a pistachio was that its dominant flavour was “roasted” rather than “pistachio”, but after the initial burst of deep toastiness ebbed away, the delicate, almost umami-flavour of pistachio came through.
As I carefully, and happily, made my way through this chocolate, I was surprised to realise that the salt tasted a bit “briney”. And then I wasn’t surprised because, after all, Heidi uses sea salt here, not, um, land salt. The assertive nature of sea salt married well with the roasted strength of the nuts, which in turn contrasted nicely with the deep vanilla notes of the sweet chocolate.
For anyone feeling tentative about trying The Curious Chocolatier’s more unusual flavour pairings, I’d certainly recommend this bar as a superb entry into her innovative world.