Hubby had been down to Melbourne, and brought pressies home. Gorgeous Koko Black chocolates to be precise.
Chocolate and I go waaaay back. My favourite chocolate memory is of my grandmother surreptitiously palming us tiny Cadbury dairy milk chocolates whenever we saw her. She usually had a stash in her handbag, along with her cosmetics bag, so the chocolates always tasted faintly of Yardley’s English Lavender talc. (She was well ahead of her time in terms of food pairings).
Over the years, my tastes have matured, and the downside of being selective is that I find a lot of chocolate underwhelming. These luscious offerings from Koko Black however…excitement in a box! And so beautifully presented too (I’m a sucker for illustration on packaging).
I haven’t had the chance to visit an actual Koko Black salon (love how they use the word salon - so elegant), but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Especially after tasting the eight morsels in my gift box.
The envelope please.
Here is the final list of my Koko Black tasting experience, in ascending order:
- 8. Category: Truffle. Flavour: Classic Belgian chocolate.
The only reason this made number 8 - it wasn’t as interesting or as multi-layered as the other flavours. However, it was still a very good truffle, starting off with a hit of rich bitterness from the cocoa powder, followed by the smoothness of ganache.
- 7. Category: Moulded praline. Flavour: Caramel
I usually ignore caramel chocolates, as they tend to be sickly sweet, gooey concoctions that stick to the teeth. I was pleasantly surprised by the Koko Black version. It had a creamy mouthfeel and subtle flavour. If you like caramel bold and brassy, this isn’t for you, but I really enjoyed it. A very genteel caramel offering.
- 6. Category: Moulded praline. Flavour: Sienna Strawberry.
Again, I’m not a fan of the usual strawberry filled chocolates. They tend to be supersweet, pink and cloying. But this filling had just the right note of "real" tasting strawberry and the luscious texture of ganache. (I've just found out that they DO use real strawberries! Yum.) See addendum at the end.
- 5. Category: Moulded praline. Flavour: Mango and vanilla.
The perfume of mango hits your senses on first bite. The flavour then smoothens out into the vanilla notes. A lovely, balanced interpretation.
- 4. Category: Moulded praline: Flavour: Raspberry.
I have a soft spot for raspberry/chocolate pairings and this one did not disappoint. A full raspberry flavour balanced by the richness of ganache.
- 3. Category: Enrobed pralines. Flavour: Hazelnut crisp.
This one looks so decadent, like a gold flecked chocolate bar. The classical pairing of hazelnut and chocolate blend harmoniously, while the crispy wafer bits add depth and textural contrast to the creamy filling.
- 2. Category: Moulded pralines. Flavour: Bailey’s.
I’m quite surprised that I picked this as number two because I’m not really a Bailey’s drinker. But this chocolate was pure seduction. One whiff of the filling and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. And the taste of Bailey’s came through beautifully, without that alcoholic “kick” that can happen in some liquer chocolates.
- 1. Category: Enrobed pralines. Hazelnut cluster.
Looks can be deceiving. “Ho-hum, nuts dipped in chocolate,” I thought. How wrong! These were caramelised hazelnuts and gianduja enrobed in dark chocolate. I didn’t think hazelnuts and chocolate could be so exciting, but the crisp caramelised coating on the hazelnuts and the silky gianduja complemented each other beautifully.
Overall, I was very impressed with this Koko Black selection. They tasted very refined - chocolates for grown-ups. The flavours were interesting yet subtle, with sweetness kept to a minimum. And I could taste passion at work. A far cry from my handbag chocolate days.
Looks like hubby may just have to go on more business trips to Melbourne. Or better yet, I wonder if there’s a franchise available…hmmm….
If you've tried Koko Black chocolates too, share your thoughts with me.
Addendum: The good folks at Koko Black have this to say:
" The reason you didn't find them sickly or too sweet is because the chocolatiers don't use any artificial colours or preservatives when handcrafting the chocolate. So with the Sienna Strawberry, for example, the filling actually is real pureed strawberries.
There are no Koko Black franchises, as you joked at the end, because Koko Black is not a franchise – it is privately owned.
In fact Koko Black founder, Shane Hills, is a huge fan of the Baileys chocolate, so I’m not surprised that you like it so much."