Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Dark Chocolate’ Category

After my post about the Malteaster Bunny, fellow blogger, David, suggested I do a comparison of Galaxy chocolate bars.

I’m not a huge fan of Galaxy chocolate, so this is probably not something I would have thought of doing for myself. However, always willing to eat chocolate for a good cause, I obtained a small selection to taste and review.

From the various options available, I picked the three that appealed most when I was faced with the shelf of choices at my local supermarket – Smooth Milk, Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnuts, and Caramel:

3 Galaxy Bars

It used to be, in my youth, that Galaxy was Galaxy. It was a relatively humble chocolate bar, not one to big it up with fancy fillings and different varieties. It left that sort of carry on to the likes of Cadbury, who have always (at least as far back as I can remember) been keen on giving the customer a number of options with their standard Dairy Milk bar, such as Dariy Milk Fruit and Nut and Dairy Milk Whole Nut.

I have the feeling that there may be two types of people in the world, or at least in Britain: those who favour Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate and those who prefer Galaxy.

I am, virtually always, in the former category. Having made this distinction, I should perhaps be comparing a Galaxy bar and a Dairy Milk bar, but alas I didn’t have any Dairy Milk and I did have three large bars of Galaxy. Another time.

Of the three that I chose, the Smooth Milk was the only one I was familiar with, but I had high hopes for the nut one, seen in the middle here:

3 bars in a toast rack

The outer paper sleeves of the bars were very similar, but each one had a distinctly different colour of inner foil wrapping:

Galaxy bars coloured foil inners

Inside, the three bars looked very similar, except that the Caramel one had larger chunks than the other two:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Caramel chunks also had a more rounded top than the others. The shape reminded me of a peculiar bed I once slept in in the south of France, which was a bit like a narrow treasure chest on legs. I spent the entire night trying not to roll off it, particularly as it was quite high off a hard wooden floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unlike the bed, however, the Caramel chunks were filled with sticky sweet caramel, which oozed out satisfyingly when bitten into:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Smooth Milk chunks had an asymmetrical cross section and a very sweet taste, although not quite as sweet as the Caramel:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnut chunks also had an asymmetrical cross section. Due to the addition of the nuts, they were slightly less sweet than the Smooth Milk chunks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As I’ve already incidated, Galaxy chocolate is not my usual nibble, and I was reminded why this was when I tasted these three bars. For my taste, Galaxy chocolate is too sweet. I say this as a fan of chocolate and multitudinous other sweet snacks, and I’m not quite sure if it’s solely due to sugar content or if there’s something more subtle at work.

If I were buying Galaxy again, I would a) go for a smaller bar, and b) probably opt for the Smooth Milk or the Roasted and Caramelised Hazelnut, rather than the Caramel, which was the sweetest of them all.

After finding them too sickly, I wondered what to do with all the leftover chocolate. In my usual manner when faced with such dilemmas, I fell back on bunging it in some scones:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I’ve made chocolate scones before I’ve grated dark chocolate into the mixture, and for some reason that worked better with a scone than Galaxy Smooth Milk, at least in my opinion. To my mind, these scones were, like the chocolate on its own, a bit too sickly sweet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Given my definite preference for Cadbury, I wondered if there was any situation in which I would choose Galaxy instead.

Since the sweetness of Galaxy was the thing that struck me most, it would seem to be the ideal treatment for shock. A nice hot cup of tea and a slab of Galaxy chocolate would be more to my taste than a very sweet cup of tea on its own, and so for that reason I’m thinking of Galaxy more as a medicine than a sweet snack.

Despite my own preference for Cadbury’s chocolate, the fact remains that Galaxy is an enormously successful global brand, having gone from strength to strength since its creation in 1810. It now exists in at least 10 different varieties, and that’s not including the Easter egg versions.

galaxy_obsession_box_4

Outside the UK, the same chocolate is known in some places as Dove, although why that name was chosen in place of Galaxy I really have no idea. It seems an odd choice, given the astronomical connection between Galaxy and its manufacturer, Mars.

Incidentally, I recently learned from a newspaper article that three members of the Mars family are amongst the richest people in the world, featuring at joint 36th place in the Forbes World Billionaires List. As with most of the people on the list, the three Mars family members are in their 70s and 80s. Being the heirs to a huge confectionery company obviously hasn’t done their general health too much harm, but I can’t help wondering about the state of their teeth.

Note for Geoff, who suggested long ago that I do a review of Willie’s chocolate – sorry I still haven’t got round to this. I did buy some from Provender Brown for a friend but I haven’t tasted it myself yet…the day will come, I’m sure!

Read Full Post »

The weather of late in my part of the world has been somewhat damp, cold and a bit on the miserable side.

My view may be coloured by being laid low by a winter bug (which, I must admit,  isn’t too bad, just a little tiresome on the sore throat front), but on the up side, it’s the perfect sort of weather for wrapping up warmly and mooching around graveyards.

As it happens, the graveyard I mooched around the other day was, for a few moments, bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

This is the entrance to the church and graveyard of Bendochy Parish Church, just outside the Perthshire town of Blairgowrie. The bell apparently dates to 1608:

Bendochy Parish Church

The eagle-eyed might have spotted a curious stone lump to the left of the entrance arch. This is, I believe, a cheese press, although what it’s doing outside the church gates I have no idea:

Bendochy cheese press

Inside the churchyard there are quite a few headstones dating back to the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Some of them have fallen over and a few others, that are in the process of falling over, have yellow and black tape on them to warn visitors that they might fall over at any minute. Most of them, however are hanging in there even if looking slightly unstable, as in the case of this one on legs:

Gravestone on legs

One that particularly interested me had a carving of what looked to me at first glance like a robot. On closer inspection I saw that it was a skeleton with some sort of yoke across its shoulders, possibly with buckets hanging down on either side (they seem too long to be the arms).

I don’t know if there’s any religious significance to this, something to do with taking water into the afterlife in order to dowse the flames of hell perhaps? Seems a bit of an assumption on the part of the person commissioning the stone, if that’s the case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another stone that caught my eye had rather an unusual shape and what looked to me like a jolly sort of skull wearing a bowler hat:

Jolly bowler-hatted skull

Headstones these days seem to me to lack the variety of shapes of those from past centuries. You do get some interesting design features, such as the ones I wrote about here, but on the whole the headstone nowadays is almost always a basic slab of stone, sticking up from a flat base.

I was quite taken by this one at Bendochy, made to look like a pile of stones with a scroll at the front. I think it shows a bit of artistry on the part of the designer, not to say skill on the part of the carver:

Artistry in stonemasonry

A combination of textures in a headstone

The forecast for the next couple of days here is for colder weather and snow showers. We’ve been very lucky with the weather this winter so far, with very little snow, which is just the way I like it.

Thankfully, I’m stocked up for cossetting myself indoors, with what remains of kind donations of chocolate received from wellwishers at Christmas:

Chocolate

Read Full Post »

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand–and melting like a snowflake.”

Sir Francis Bacon

The above is Robin’s latest blogging challenge on Bringing Europe Home, and I must admit that when I read it, although I liked it, I couldn’t think of a photograph to use for it.

I left it for a few days, and when I re-read it this morning a vision of chocolate jumped straight into my head.

Chocolate lasts but a moment, and certainly melts like a snowflake as soon as I’ve popped it into my mouth, especially if combined with a slurp of hot tea:

Read Full Post »

Following on from my previous post, after our bracing coastal walk, we wound our way back through the village of Pittenweem to get to the chocolaterie cafe for sweet treats.

There are several narrow streets running uphill from the harbour to the centre of the village, and I liked the look of Cove Wynd* and the lure of St Fillan’s Cave. The name ‘Pittenweem’ means ‘The Place of the Caves’, and St Fillan lived here in the 8th Century.

St Fillan had a very handy gift that must have made him a popular choice of companion for night-time jaunts. Apparently he could make his left arm give off a luminous glow, which he used for reading and writing sacred scriptures in the dark.

Near the harbour in Pittenweem

As soon as I turned into the narrow Cove Wynd I spied the cave further up the hill:

Narrow streets in Pittenweem

The cave goes down into the rock behind a locked metal gate. I managed to peer through the gate to get a look at the cave entrance:

Deep into the ground goes St Fillan

There was a notice saying the gate key could be obtained from the cafe we’d had lunch at, so one day soon I must go back, ask for the key and have a look inside. On this occasion, however, I contented myself with admiring it from the outside. There was a mosaic made of stones stuck onto the side of the little porch at the cave’s entrance:

Lovely sandstone cave on a steep street in Pittenweem

And I made friends with the cheerful sentry standing guard outside the cave, who smiled nicely for the camera:

Sentry at St Fillan's Cave

At the top of the wynd was St Fillan’s Parish Church. It was originally built in the 12th Century, although most of what remains today dates back only to the 16th Century.  The church is connected to the Tolbooth Tower which once housed the council chambers. Witches were kept here awaiting trial, the last trial having been held in 1704.

16th Century buildings in Pittenweem

I believe the location of the pillar on the wall marks the separation between the tolbooth on the left and the church on the right. I liked the old door and window of the tolbooth:

Old door, window and pillar

I also liked the beautiful round stained glass window further up the building, which glinted prettily in the sunlight. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it really was very shiny and sparkly:

Pittenweem parish church

After admiring all these architectural wonders it was time to go back to the cafe and indulge in some delights.

With some difficulty this is what we chose. Beautiful assitant no.1 had the speciality chocolate cake and a chai latte. I tasted both and they were excellent. The chai latte was perfect and the cake was very chocolatey and surprisingly light:

rich cocoa filled dessert in Pittenweem

Lovely assistant no.2 went for warm ginger sponge cake with fresh cream and a mug of Belgian white hot chocolate:

ginger dessert in Pittenweem

And, after much deliberation, I chose Oolong tea with a mini bar of dark chocolate. The teacup was very pretty, as was the little bar of chocolate:

The chocolate chunks were so small that I couldn’t resist popping some on my teaspoon and dunking them in my tea. They held their shape and didn’t seem to be melting but when I sooked them off the spoon they just disappeared.

When I was paying at the till in the chocolate shop, I enjoyed looking at some of the chocolates on display and bought some Belgian seashells to take away.

I can’t resist one more picture of my pretty teacup and chocolate bar. It really was a very nice bar of chocolate, very dark, smooth and tangy. Next time I’d like to try one of their dark hot chocolates, but this time I was very glad I’d had the Oolong tea in such beautiful china.

*‘wynd’ is a Scottish word describing an open passageway between buildings. As stated on Wikipedia: “In many places wynds link streets at different heights and thus are mostly thought of as being ways up or down hills. It is possible the term derives from lanes winding their way up hills to provide easier passage, but wynds can be dead straight.”

Read Full Post »

How dark to you think dark chocolate should be?

This is not necessarily the definitive answer, but according to the European Union (click to see Wikipedia article), in order for chocolate to be ‘dark’ it must contain at least 35% cocoa solids (the same article states that the US has no official definition for dark chocolate). By contrast, something like the Cadbury’s Twirl (milk chocolate) contains ‘a minumum of 25% cocoa solids’.  When I think of dark chocolate, I expect it to contain at least 60% cocoa solids, and in today’s little investigation I’ve decided to compare two bars containing 70% cocoa solids.

There are many different makes of dark chocolate, and if I were doing this thing properly I would have a wider sample range, but since this is really just an excuse for me to try out different chocolate, I’m comparing Green and Black’s with Divine (I should have taken a photograph of them nicely wrapped up together but unfortunately I had already started eating them before it occurred to me):

Part of my non-scientific approach to this was to purchase bars of different sizes. The Green & Black’s bar shown is the 100g size, whereas the Divine one is 45g. The reason for this is that I happened to see the small size of Divine the other day when I fancied some chocolate and then yesterday in Tesco I noticed that Green & Black’s chocolate was on special offer in the 100g size. It’s all down to practicalities.

Both companies are fully Fairtrade certified, so thumbs up to that in the first instance. They’re also both attractively packaged, in my opinion, and immediately recognisable due to their design.

First up: Green & Black’s. Here’s what greets you when you peel off the outer paper layer:

The foil inside continues the Green & Black’s font from outside the packet, and reinforces the fact that what you’re about to nibble on is organic. Very reassuring. As nice as the foil is, you need to remove it to get at the chocolate, and this is what faces you when you’ve done so:

Close up each individual rectangle carries the Green & Black’s leaf motif, apart from the rectangle at the bottom right, which is unique and special and wants to grab your attention with its distinctiveness:

The rows and columns of little chunks are segregated by channels that lead you to believe it would be easy to break them up into single blocks. In my experience this is not the case. They’re almost tolerant of you trying to break them into columns, but when it comes to rows they like to give you the run around. How often I have tried to break them into rows I don’t know, but I have no recollection of it ever having been successful. I tried for this investigation and all I got were bits like this, defiant in their refusal to break as I wished them to:

On the up side, the way they break makes the chocolate look inviting (whether this demonstrates conchoidal fracture or two directional cleavage I wouldn’t like to say, but either way it looks rather nice to me).

Most importantly, what does Green & Black’s 70% chocolate taste like? Well, here are my thoughts, and you may well disagree with me. The words that came to mind when I munched on a piece were: dark, bitter, sweet, tangy, lively and complex. Of these, the tanginess was what probably impressed itself on me most.

Very good, and now to the Divine:

The foil inside a bar of Divine is uniformly gold, certainly less interesting than the Green & Black’s. However, before you even get to the foil it has a few little tricks up its sleeve. End on, with this small bar at least, it demonstrates just how much thought has been put into the wrapper design:

When you open the wrapper, a pleasing symmetry of design is evident:

The imprints on the bar itself are very different from those on the Green & Black’s, but I’m not sure what they’re like on the 100g bar; obviously I will need to buy one and have a look.

To my mind, there is nothing linking the design on the outside of the packaging with that on the chocolate bar. Where there is a satisfying balance on the Green & Black’s bar and its packaging, no such balance exists with the Divine bar. You may consider it to be a good thing, this self-effacing gesture on the part of the Divine bar. Perhaps, it’s telling us, the taste will speak for itself. I endeavoured to find out. The individual blocks seemed to be too big for one mouthful and so I tried to bite into one. This was not an easy task, due to the thickness of the chocolate.

However, what I was hit with was a very welcome taste. One word entered my mind when I tasted this chocolate: smooth. Not for Divine, the tangy liveliness of the Green & Black’s. This chocolate had a laid-back, relaxed attitude and a smoothness I didn’t detect in the Green & Black’s. Also, unlike the Green & Black’s, it left no bitter after-taste. The sensation I had after eating this chocolate was that I had drifted off for a minute or two into a land of peaceful meadows, where all my cares and worries had been lifted and I felt happy and at one with the world.

And so, the verdict. Which did I like best?

What I would say is this. If you’re about to enter a martial arts competition – you’ve got your pjyamas on and your belt tied neatly round your waist – you need a chocolate bar that will stir the sinews, make you feel alert and vibrant and ready for action. In this case, I would recommend opting for Green & Black’s. The complexity will stimulate different areas of your brain, allowing your feet and arms to move in unison and enabling you to fly through your movements with ease and fluidity.

On the other hand, if you’re having a relaxing day off from the Ju-jitsu, you would be much better off with the Divine bar. Sink into your favourite chair with a nice cup of tea, or lie on the soft grass staring up at the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds, and let the smooth dark chocolate of Divine relax body and soul, refreshing and repairing your tired limbs and bringing peace and clarity to your mind.

There is, in my opinion, a time and a place for each of these wonderful chocolate bars and I would recommend keeping a small stock of each in your medicine cabinet.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,743 other followers

%d bloggers like this: