Introducing Matcha Chocolat (& A Competition!)

Anyone who reads my blog even in passing will have worked out that I love tea and I love chocolate. So when I was approached a couple of months ago about a soon-to-launch new chocolate business combining the two, I was pretty excited!

The suggestion was that she send some chocolates out to me, ahead of the launch of the business, for me to review.

Whilst a review of the chocolates is all well and good and rather dandy actually (and is provided below) I was really interested in finding out more about the budding project, how it came to be born, and about the person behind it so I suggested we meet up for tea and cakes in London and a chat!

Maison Bertaux, thank you for providing a lovely environment for our meeting!

I warmed to American, Katie Christoffers, from her first email (and found her charming in person too). Why? Because her comments made it clear she was a genuine reader of my blog and had taken the time to write a personalised email that referred to my interests and spoke to me directly. (You might not realise how rare that is!)

I was also delighted to find out that she’d taken much of her original inspiration from the creative use of matcha by food bloggers – it’s not something I’ve blogged about personally but it is something I’ve also picked up on in the many blogs I read avidly myself and I agree with Katie that it seems to be almost unique to the world of food blogging – you do see matcha now and again on the occasional restaurant menu but it’s frequent use in baking and confectionaries is far more prevalent in the blogosphere! Katie is a genuine food blog lover and is almost as excited about launching her own blog as the business itself!

You might be surprised to learn that Katie isn’t a chocolatier by training. In fact she has a background in in neuroscience and biochemistry research – you can imagine how helpful the demanding exactitude those fields require has assisted her in the perfecting of her chocolates! Quite a change though, isn’t it?!

She has invested a lot of time and effort in developing her range, creating a brand (and the beautiful associated packaging) and preparing for the launch. It’s quite inspiring to learn that all this has been done out of her home rather than any specialist chocolate-making studio or factory.

The collection she sent me to review, before our face-to-face meeting, is called The Emperor’s Selection. As you can see, Katie has expanded on the initial matcha inspiration to combine chocolate with a much wider range of teas as well as flavourings with which tea is commonly imbued, such as chai spices.

The chocolates arrived beautifully wrapped and packaged. Whilst it’s ultimately the contents that are important, I can’t help but take pleasure from beautiful packaging and the bright, funky colours and patterns were appealing.

So, to the chocolates!

Uji Matcha
“A milk chocolate enrobed square of dark chocolate ganache with an infusion of Uji Matcha green tea- grown in the Uji region of Kyoto, Japan”

Given the name of the business and the role of matcha as the original inspiration, I was surprised that the flavour of matcha didn’t come through more strongly. It was pleasant, but subtle. I’d say a little too subtle for my preferences and I’d like to taste more of a matcha kick.

Midnight Peony
“Milk chocolate ganache with black tea liqueur- slightly smoky and reminiscent of Chinese Lapsang tea. Enrobed in a dark chocolate dome.”

The crack of the gorgeous dark chocolate robe gave way to a lovely smooth and smokey ganache. The smokiness provided an intriguing and complex flavour which I found really unusual. Very nice indeed!

Jasmine Silver Needles
“A white chocolate dome of white chocolate ganache infused with Jasmine tea- one of the most well known Chinese teas.”

To my shock, as someone who is absolutely not a fan of white chocolate (and that’s an understatement!), I absolutely adored this chocolate. Infact, it was my favourite in the box! And yet I had been reluctant to even try it! The chocolate itself is superbly smooth and so creamy as it melts in the mouth. The jasmine, a favourite scent and flavour of mine, comes through loud and clear and is an absolutely perfect partner for the white chocolate. Who would have guessed? Not me but I could happily eat an entire box just of these!

Blackcurrant Bliss
“An all milk chocolate demi-dome infused with a blend of scented blackcurrant tea and an Assam tea. Complimented by blackcurrant puree and topped with a dried blackcurrant.”

This was another subtle one, though the blackcurrant taste was certainly there. I liked it but it would probably be more popular with those who are bigger fans of this fruit; then again they may want a stronger blackcurrant kick.

Masala Chai
“Milk chocolate ganache infused with Chai tea- a traditional blend of black tea infused with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves and aniseed. Enrobed in a dark chocolate dome and topped with a piece of crystallised ginger.”

I can see why this chocolate is the centre piece of all three of Katie’s chocolate collections. I really liked the combination of good quality dark chocolate wtih the spicy ganache and chewy ginger.

Infact, I’d like to suggest that Katie expands her product line to offer a Masala Chai Hot Chocolate, which would surely go down well? What do you think – let me and Katie know in the comments, below!

Katie predominantly uses Valrhona chocolate, not only for it’s high quality but also for it’s policy of sustainable development and social responsibility – she even has her own green policy available for inspection on her website. She particularly likes the way the light roasting style Valrhona employ brings out fruity, floral and herbal flavours in the chocolate which enhances her tea-based fillings. (Higher roasting temperatures tend to result in a stronger, more savoury cocoa flavour). For her white chocolates, Katie is using organic Fairtrade white chocolate from Belcolade, which she likes for it’s citrus and vanilla flavours.

As you might guess, she takes a great deal of care when sourcing her teas too!

In her fillings Katie sticks to organic cream and butter (not vegetable oils), fresh herbs and fresh fruit purees. As she does not add any artificial preservatives the chocolates have a two week life shelflife, though I’ll be impressed if you manage to make them last that long!

Katie will initially be selling her chocolates online via her new Matcha Chocolat website where you can buy the chocolates I reviewed above*.

You can also buy her Chocolate Parasols – solid chocolate disks featuring common tea flavourings such as bergamot (utterly, addictively delicious) and kashmiri chai (cardamom, almond, cinammon and nutmeg). These are seriously, seriously good and I’m rationing myself to make them last as long as I can!

*The Emperor’s Selection is available until the end of May. In June and August Katie will be offering The Jade Selection (Sencha, Liquid Jade, China Rose, Strawberry Summer and Masala Chai). From September you can purchase The Lotus Selection (Genmaicha, April Snow, Secret Garden, Keemun Mango, Masala Chai).

Competition
Katie has kindly offered a box of four giant tea chocolates to one of my lucky readers! To enter, just leave a comment telling us about your favourite chocolate recipe or idea for combining chocolate with another ingredient. (If you leave more than one comment, I’ll take your first one as your entry). The competition closes on the 21st March 2010 (midnight GMT) and I’ll announce the winner shortly afterwards. (Open to UK mainland residents only).

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
23 Comments to "Introducing Matcha Chocolat (& A Competition!)"

  1. catty

    Well HEL-LO if this blog post isn't talking to me, I don't know what is. I mean, who doesn't know about my love of matcha ๐Ÿ™‚ I've combined matcha with every last thing under the sun and most recently have made a matcha latte with milk, white chocolate and matcha. DIVINE. I love any simple chocolate recipes (like brownies) but when I can combine the two (chocolate and matcha), that is a match(a) made in heaven! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Debs @ DKC

    Hi kavey, once again you run a competition open to UK residents only .

    However, I was interested to read your blog post as I was given a small tin of matcha powder some time ago and have been meaning to make ice cream with it. My initial idea was to make a plain matcha ice cream. Maybe I'll finally get around to it now, especially as you've inspired me to make a chocolate matcha flavour instead.

    Maybe if I get lucky, you'll forget I'm in Spain and I'll win the competition anyway as a get well gift LOL!!!!!!!!

  3. Jamie

    I am a simple girl who loves chocolate-covered marshmallow and chocolate-dipped soft caramels, but I have to say that two of the best are chocolate-covered salted caramel and chocolate and violet. I made violet macarons with violet-infused chocolate ganache and they were astonishingly delicious!

  4. noodlecapricciosa

    this is not so much for the competition, but good quality dark chocolate is wonderful for savoury dishes – a few blocks in a pulled pork casserole or stir it in some refried beans!

  5. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    My favourite chocolate flavour is a fairly traditional choice – chocolate and orange, although not the Terry's variety. I love Nigella Lawson Chocolate Orange Storecupboard cake which is made in one pan with melted chocolate and marmalade. It's called storecupboard cake because most likely you will have everything you need for it in the cupboard. It has a fabulous soft truffle-like texture.

    The matcha chocolates look marvellous, I will look out for them.

  6. Elizabeth

    My God-dess Kavey this sounds delightful! I've only heard of matcha on your blog, I will have to look for it.

  7. Suelle

    I thought I'd posted early this morning, so if you find a second post from me, Kavey, ignore one of them!

    I'm really interested in this concept, as I was very disappointed with a Dolfin brand chocolate flavoured with Earl Grey, which I tried recently. Neither the tea nor the bergamot flavours really came through well.

    I love using the spices in masala chai in my baking, so I'm sure I'd like them with chocolate and tea, but for me, the best partners are chilli and chocolate, which could be blended with a suitable tea to produce something really delicious.

  8. Kavey

    Suelle, if you're looking for the bergamot flavour coming through strongly, the parasol disks with bergamot are astonishing. I LOVE them!

  9. kelly4777

    I can't enter the contest, and someone has already suggested my favorite pairing (dark chocolate w/Earl Grey).
    To be honest, most of the things I can think of to pair with chocolate are fairly normal.
    Maybe chocolate with a nice dark stout?
    I could see white chocolate going nicely with some sweet cooked/steamed carrots, but I've never tried it (and I know some people don't consider white chocolate to be chocolate at all).

  10. tousledkitten

    Once every month I get the worst nausea ever. The only thing that I have found can tame the nausea is ginger. It doesn't work every time but the purer the ginger is, the better. I am particularly partial to chocolate ginger. Not the sickly-sweet crystallised ginger type but the spicy, tangy, fibrous, tongue-tingling delight that is pure, slightly sweetened ginger. To me, that combination is perfection.

  11. liloo

    My recipe is to mix half a tea spoon of skinny cow chocolate powder with instant porridge from quakers at mid time cooking. It just makes the boring porridge a lil bit more interesting ^_^

  12. bakingbynumbers

    These sound wonderful, im a big fan of tea infused chocolates and actually quite like that it can be subtle. As for my flavour pairing my favourite has to be salted caramel and chocolate but im also partial to white chocolate/matcha and my guilty pleasure is chocolate/peanut butter

  13. Manne

    I have already ordered some to try it out, so keep me out of the competition.

    However, one of my best and most indulgent chocolate experiences was something as seemingly simple as dark chocolate stirred in hot coffee.

    What made it special was how the chocolate was mixed with chilli powder and gold flecks, then shaped to a pyramid and attached to a plastic rod. You grabbed the rod and stirred the pyramid in your coffee.

    As it melted, the gold flecks came to the surface, along with the slightly oily sheen of the chocolate.

    Sipping it was a proper taste explosion of bitter coffee, sweetened by the chocolate and then the heat of the chilli.

    Yum.

  14. ali991

    These look gorgeous. I think dark chocolate with a touch of lemon and some meringue laced through it would be gorgeous

  15. Cat

    I love adding chocolate hazelnut spread to cupcakes. I just add them to the middle of the cake mix, add some more cake mix on top and cook. When you cut into the cakes you have melted hazelnut spread, yum

  16. mathildescuisine

    Although I'm a huge fan of adding chili in chocolate, I recently discovered that basil went very well with it .. Savoury and sweet, the perfect combo

  17. Not Quite Nigella

    I'm not in the running as I'm in Australia but it sounds lovely. Lucky you getting all of that delicious chocolate to taste test! ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. gastrogeek.co.uk

    What gorgeous looking chocolates – fab write up Kaveypie. After living in Japan I'm afraid I have quite the matcha habit. I like it in icecream and also with salt as a dip for tempura and of course on it's tod. I like salty sweet things too, so any form of salted chocolate does it for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Heavenly Housewife

    Ooooh, I would love to win one of these. I love the idea of combining tea and chocolate.
    I would like to try masala tea integrated into a chocolate mousse. I think it would need to be a strong flavoured tea so that it doesn't get overpowered.

  20. ruthj

    Damson liquor. I used to be able to get Damson liquor chocolates from the local farmers market when I lived near Bromsgrove. Really miss them now I've moved!

  21. madbird32

    Chocolate heaven.
    Is it wrong to have a cup of tea &
    to dunk my bar of dark chocolate in it?
    For some reason, maybe the head, i'm not
    sure, I can taste the coco so much more
    when I eat my choccy like this,
    lovely.
    Hubby thinks it's disgusting, but what does
    he know, he's a man!
    xx

  22. TheFastestIndian

    I love chocolate with both cardamon and cinnamon (so think the hot choc masala tea idea would be a fantastic idea). I'm currently wondering if I can combine chocolate with those spices in cake form!

  23. Josordoni

    I cannot believe it.. I have left it to the very wire and now cannot find the recipe I was going to enter here..

    so..no quantities. But shut your eyes a bit… imagine with me.

    Your guests are happy, ensconced at the table, finishing up the cheese and the red wine. You have nipped out to the kitchen to make pudding…Oven on? check. Little ramekins buttered? check.

    Now you have got some chocolate and some butter, in a bowl… you've melted it.. and now you've mixed in your egg yolks, and your mountain of egg whites all pillowy and white. In it goes.. fold gently. Gently, gently, till all the white streaks have gone. And you've filled your little ramekins and you've popped them in the oven. For 12 minutes EXACTLY. It is all puffed up and fluffy, but the top is fragile, you know it is deep and rich and Mastercheffy underneath.

    You've got your jersey cream from the fridge in the little cut glass jug your gran had. It, and the ramekins on a tray, into the dining room.

    Oh! Say the Guests! We're on a diet!!

    Ah, you say, but this is from Ruth Watson's Fat Girl Slim diet book. And like she says.. if you're going to break your diet for some chocolate…

    Then Sod It!

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