My favourite chocolate discovery (via my amazing brother) last year was the spectacular Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, an Australian company dedicated to highlighting not only regional flavours and local ingredients but Australian artists, too.
So you can imagine my delight when, several days ago, a Christmas parcel arrived for me (from my amazing brother) filled with nearly a pound and a half (640g, to be precise) of Yarra Valley Chocolaterie chocolate (plus two other chocolate blocks to boot).
I have a very good brother. A very, very good brother.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Gourmet Collection
While my first batch of YVC chocolate was studded with Aussie bush tucker, the four bars in this Gourmet Collection take a slightly more traditional flavour approach. What remains the same, however, is the company’s emphasis on quality couverture chocolate, fresh ingredients, and Australian art. As the company itself says:
“Our gourmet packaging paintings have been specially commissioned and painted by Dana Shave. Each pack depicts a local scene which has been inspired by images shot on location in the beautiful Yarra Valley by local photographer Adrienne Gilligan.”
So much goodness.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Dark Chocolate with Pear and Hazelnuts
The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Dark Chocolate with Pear and Hazelnuts (showcasing the Yarra Glen Bridge) is comprised of 56% cacao dark chocolate and 12.5% each of roasted hazelnuts and dried pears. It had a fairy straightforward sweet aroma, in fact reminding me of the now-defunct Canberran The Curious Chocolatier chocolate.
Once I started tasting, I discovered: vanilla and icing sugar notes! chewy golden true-true-true dried pears of the chewy golden true-true-true kind (like these ones)! rich chocolate so very smooth melting like silk! caramel tones and a light floral sweetness! not quite as complex as bittersweet hot fudge sauce but delightfully moreish! ooooooooh supremely crunchy roasted hazelnuts that made each bite taste like higher-quality Nutella!
It’s interesting how quickly 160g of chocolate can disappear.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Milk Chocolate with Macadamia and Salted Caramel
Spoiler alert: I almost never prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, but this was one of those moments. For no matter how easy it was to eat the first Yarra Valley Chocolaterie chocolate, this Gourmet Collection Milk Chocolate with Macadamias and Salted Caramel (showcasing the Yarrawood Winery) was a thousand times more delicious.
Macadamias, caramelised toffee pieces, a hint of salt.
So much goodness.
The aroma of this chocolate enveloped me in the memory of — suspend your disbelief and go with me on this, please — warm buttery scones fresh from the oven, slathered with jam and whipped cream, served on a sunny porch in a country town à la beloved Devonshire Tea breaks during family holiday road trips. Or, perhaps, like the memory of a chocolate caramel slice, made and shared with friends.
I don’t know why. Something about the scent of butter and bakeries and sugar and cream and nutty caramelised heaven.
This chocolate tasted even more heavenly than it smelled. Fudge-y and buttery and like the chewy caramelised edges of that chocolate caramel slice and like the deepest dulce de leche and like the epitome of how hints of salt can make toffee sing and then, my friends, the macadamias, the macadamias. I have never, not even when dipping into the one kilo bags of macadamias that my grandpa orders for my mum every Christmas direct from a farm, tasted macadamias as fresh, as strong, as creamy-buttery-complex-perfect, as the macadamias in this chocolate.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, your chocolate has given me feelings in the heart.