Writing this blog has brought many, many wonderful people into my life. Glorious people, shining people, inspiring people, talented people. One such
people person is the lovely and hilarious Alayna of Thyme Bombe.
Alayna recently published her first cookbook, The Japanese Pantry, which showcases approachable yet dinner party-worthy Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) recipes. Believe you me, Alayna’s recipes look, sound, and taste as good as many of the dishes I ate in Japan several years ago.
When Alayna offered me a copy of her cookbook, I was breathless with gratitude and joy. A few weeks later, I moved beyond “breathless” to “squealing” because, along with her cookbook, Alayna sent me the dazzling array of goodies you see above.
Raw Shakti Chocolate 85% Cacao
A part of me is tempted to repeat the words on the Raw Shakti Chocolate package then proclaim “voila! My review!” After all, Shakti proclaims that its chocolate is: 85% cacao, raw, stoneground, handcrafted, sustainable, [made from] single origin Ecuador[ian cacao], [using] all organic ingredients, [and has] deep fruity notes with a complex floral finish.
Need I say more?
Perhaps not, but I will anyway. This Raw Shakti 85% vegan dark chocolate had one of the crispest snaps I’ve ever encountered in raw chocolate, as well as an unwavering aroma of twangy redcurrant and unripe plum mixed with bitter raw cacao.
The taste followed suit with red fruit acidity, but thankfully not in a puckeringly sour way. The flavour was strong in tannins, merlot, lemon, and (again) unripe plums, but it also had notes of cigarette ash and the coolness of underground caves. Yes, I just said this chocolate tastes like caves.
I’d like to see that appear in the marketing blurb one day.
Justin’s All-Natural Milk Chocolate Peanut Candy Bar
Have you ever wanted a Snickers bar but not its plethora of dodgy ingredients? Well, Justin’s has your back. Justin’s All-Natural Milk Chocolate Peanut Candy Bar is comprised of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and nougat, but no hydrogenated oils or multisyllabic chemical components. Just pronounceable nuts, sugar, and chocolate.
The caramel was firmer than is found in a Mars Bar or Snickers, and had a lighter sweetness too. The nougat was malty and the peanuts well-roasted, balancing the sweetness of the caramel and milk chocolate. At times, the overall texture and flavour reminded me of fudge.
I want Justin’s (vegan) Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups now.
Madécasse Pink Pepper and Citrus
I saved the best for last! Having previously tried and loved Madécasse, I was supremely excited about this mini bar of Madécasse Pink Pepper and Citrus 63% Dark Chocolate. The citrus refers to combava fruit, also known as kaffir lime.
This bar was wonderful. Alayna, you’re wonderful.
The aroma was so strong, so chocolatey, so tangy (in a gorgeously fruity way). As is always the case, Madécasse exemplified perfect tempering in this bar, with a beautiful crack-snap ringing out each time I broke off a square.
The flavour was light yet strong, by which I mean that the lime notes were ever-present but not overpowering. The citrus was like a cloud of perfume dancing through the vanilla-scented heady cacao notes of the 63% chocolate, while the pink pepper added just the barest hint of a savoury twist, broadening and deepening the bar’s overall flavour.
Oh Madécasse. I like you almost as much as I like Alayna.