I love Demarquette chocolates!

Run by talented (not to mention warm and cuddly) chocolatier Marc Demarquette and lovely partner Kim Sauer, this award-winning London chocolate company produces utterly delicious and beautiful hand-made chocolates. Not only do the chocolates taste fantastic and look stunning, they are made with carefully chosen high-quality ingredients, many of which are sourced from British producers. Even the chocolate is not off-the-shelf couverture but roasted, conched and blended to Demarquette recipes. A keen and critical eye is focused on ethical considerations too.

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This year, chocoholics craving the very best quality Easter treats can enjoy Marc’s new Caramel Filled Easter Eggs. The size of quails’ eggs, these come in three flavours – dark chocolate with sea salted caramel, milk chocolate with key lime caramel and milk chocolate with banoffee caramel. The eggs are blue, green and yellow and feature a simple hand-painted design – each one is unique!

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The salted caramels are a familiar Demarquette favourite, and just as good in egg form as the glossy domes I’m more familiar with. Both the key lime and banoffee caramel eggs are sweeter, because of the milk chocolate, with their core flavour coming through loud and clear; I like both but the banoffee is definitely my favourite!

Available by mail order, this box of 12 eggs is £19.95 plus delivery.

 

DISCOUNT CODE

I’m delighted to share a special discount code for readers of Kavey Eats.

Enter KAVEYEASTER to receive 15% off your online orders.

The code can be used to purchase any item from Demarquette’s range of chocolate treats.

Valid until 14th April 2014. Discount excludes postage. Minimum spend, excluding postage, is £15. Code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers.

COMPETITION

Demarquette are kindly offering a box of 12 Caramel Filled Chocolate Easter Eggs to a reader of Kavey Eats. The prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

Please read the terms and conditions before entering.

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your idea for a new caramel filling flavour.
Please include your name and provide a valid email address.
If you are intending to tweet a bonus entry (see below), please include your twitter name in your blog comment.

Bonus Entry – Twitter
Once you have entered via the blog, give yourself an extra entry via twitter!
Follow
@Kavey and @DemarquetteChoc on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a box of @DemarquetteChoc caramel filled easter eggs from Kavey Eats! 
http://goo.gl/nKkfw1 #KaveyEatsDemarquette
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 11 April 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address.
  • By entering this competition, you give permission for your email address to be collected and provided to Demarquette Ltd, for marketing purposes. Kavey Eats will store the data until the end of April 2014 only.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey and @DemarquetteChoc at the time of notification.
  • Twitter entries without an associated blog comment are not valid. Please include your twitter name in your blog comment to make the association clear.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a box of 12 Demarquette caramel filled easter eggs, as shown above. Delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Demarquette Ltd.

 

Kavey Eats received a review sample from Demarquette.

 

I’ve written before about my addiction to Pinterest. I think it’s a super tool – fun to use and hugely useful too. Recently, Pinterest UK have formed a community of keen UK pinners and have been busy facilitating discussions and organising events to engage with the group.

Recently, I attended a delightful evening with Paul A Young, one of my favourite chocolatiers, organised by Pinterest and Great British Chefs. The event was not only fun but also informative and hands on. Paul taught us his signature Port & Stilton Truffle recipe, making it in front of us from scratch so we could see just how achievable it is. Once the filling was made, everyone was invited to roll and dip to finish the truffles and of course, to taste!

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Here’s an old post featuring a fun video interview I did with Paul back in 2011, just after he opened his Soho shop. Do watch the video, it’s wonderful to see creative forces like Paul talk about what they do – he just lights up as he talks.

Kavey Eats attended this event as a guest of Pinterest UK.

 

It’s that time of the year again when the supermarkets line shelf after shelf with Easter eggs, bunnies and chicks. But although there are some decent quality items on the shelves, much of the chocolate is cheap, full of vegetable oil (rather than cocoa butter) and ultimately pretty unsatisfying. The chocolate eggs are often so thin that it feels like there’s more cardboard and plastic packaging than chocolate; the prices can seem cheap but I seldom find them good value.

If your budget allows, I’d suggest choosing something better.

When I attended Hotel Chocolat’s press preview of this year’s Easter range, I found lots that appealed.

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Your Eggsellency Extra Thick Easter Egg, The Facet Luxury Dark Chocolate Easter Egg and The Splat Caramel Chocolate Easter Egg

As always, I was struck by their new packaging design for 2014. The pattern is wonderfully curvaceous and the gold detailing is marvellously opulent. I was told that the Hotel Chocolat design took inspiration from 20th century British artist Paul Nash, though I’m not sure I see any similarities. For me, the organic nature of eggs and leaves or petals, has a retro feel that reminds me of Art Nouveau.

Also new this year is the Facet egg, available in dark and milk chocolate versions, with bold geometric designs in both the packaging and the chocolate.

Extra Thick eggs come with a variety of different chocolates inside, in beautiful arch-shaped boxes. There’s also a Rabot 1745 version in the same shape of box but with the signature black and gold branding. And if you’re really pushing the boat out, look at the Ostrich egg, an enormous arch-shaped box containing two thick shells and lots of chocolates.

Although the big eggs are always striking, there are lots of lower priced items in bags and small boxes: the egglets are still in force as are the fried egg slabs and egg and soldiers sets; adorable pastel bunnies in pink and yellow use only natural colourings and flavourings; chocolate chicks come in white, milk or dark; choc cross buns that bring the flavours of easter baking to chocolate; Danny the City Bunny (presumably because of his bowtie, but leaves me wondering if a country bunny would have a straw hat) and a number of sandwich eggs. Go up just a little more in price and choose from the new Splat eggs; a bird’s nest of egglets; goose eggs in pretty pastels or larger bags and boxes of the chocolates above.

As has become a tradition on Kavey Eats, instead of offering one big prize, I liaise with Hotel Chocolat to choose three of my favourite items so that not one but three readers can win an Easter treat.

 

COMPETITION

Hotel Chocolat are offering three wonderful Easter egg prizes to readers of Kavey Eats. Each prize includes delivery within the UK.

First Prize: Your Eggsellency Extra Thick Easter Egg
375 grams £28 – An extra thick egg with one 40% milk shell and one 70% dark shell, filled with real cream truffles with champagne, port, amaretto and other delights.

Second Prize: The Facet Luxury Dark Chocolate Easter Egg
200 grams £20 – A dark chocolate egg in a beautiful new geometric design, with matching packaging,

Third Prize: The Splat Caramel Chocolate Easter Egg
150 grams £12.50 – With a design based on the idea of an explosion in a chocolate factory, this caramel milk chocolate egg features a colourful white chocolate splat.

 

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing one of your favourite childhood memories about Easter chocolate.

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow
@Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win one of three @HotelChocolat Easter Eggs from Kavey Eats!
http://goo.gl/hbFOyh #KaveyEatsHCEasterEggs
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 4 April 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The three winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • There are three prizes, which will be awarded to the winners in the order that the names are picked out. Each prize is a Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg, as described above and includes free delivery within the UK.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Hotel Chocolat.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kaveyat the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats attended the Hotel Chocolat Easter preview event and received a selection of sample products.

The winners of this competition, in order of prizes, were Yasmin Jafri, Lianne Walsh and Jan Beal.

 

Last year I ran a competition to give away a beautiful chocolate badger from Betty’s. It proved enormously popular; it seems that you were just as enchanted with the whimsical chocolate sculpture as I was! You all joined in with me in to put forward ideas for animals you’d like to immortalised in chocolate and, good news, two of the animals suggested in your comments do indeed feature in Betty’s new spring selection.

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As before, these adorable riverside animals are made from Betty’s Swiss milk chocolate. The hand-crafted Otter weighs 430 grams, is 24 cm tall and is finished with white and dark chocolate details. He costs £20. The Beaver weighs 140 grams, is 6 cm high and comes with a white chocolate fish. He costs £12.

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To celebrate these new critters, which go on sale on February 15th, Betty’s have given me one of each to give away to readers.

COMPETITION

First prize is a Betty’s Milk Chocolate Otter. Second prize is a Betty’s Milk Chocolate Beaver. Both prizes include free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite memory of watching wildlife in England. Where were you, what did you see, how did it make you feel?

Entry 2 – Facebook
Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow
@Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a @Bettys1919 chocolate beaver or otter from Kavey Eats!
http://goo.gl/ZSJtRq #KaveyEatsBettysBeaver
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 14th February 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The first prize is a Betty’s Milk Chocolate Otter. The second prize is a Betty’s Milk Chocolate Beaver. Both prizes include free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Betty’s.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample beaver and otter for review from Betty’s.

This competition is closed. The winners were Conrad Edwards (first prize) and @MorningPostie (second prize).

 

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What better way to introduce you to Cocoa Runners than to ask co-founder Spencer Hyman and “Chief Chocolate Officer” Dom Ramsey a few questions from Kavey Eats.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of what Cocoa Runners is all about?

Spencer: Cocoa Runners is trying to bring our customers the world’s best bean to bar chocolates.  We do this via a monthly delivery service where we send our customers four bars picked around a theme, in a specially designed box that fits through your letter box. Every box also contains detailed tasting notes for each bar alongside introductions to their makers and growers.  And our online Chocolate Library gives our customers access to more bars and more information

What gave you the idea for Cocoa Runners and how did you develop and fine tune it?

Spencer: We all love chocolate, and we were all frustrated by how hard it was to find great chocolate.  Almost every corner store and supermarket sells chocolate.  But much of the chocolate they sell is confectionery and there is no guidance or easy way to find great bars.  So we thought about how the likes of Hugh Johnson and Tony Laithwaite made wine accessible and available – and now we are trying to use the web and mobile to do the same for fine chocolate.  We’ve a team that has been doing ecommerce since the beginning and we very much believe that online gives you great opportunities to access and learn about what your customers want.  For example, pretty much from the outset we’ve heard from our customers that they wanted a “dark only” option – so we’ve developed this.  Similarly many of our customers want to gift a subscription – so we are now rolling out this functionality

I think Cocoa Runners has come at just the right time, as more and more Brits are discovering the joys of good chocolate but so many are new to it and keen to learn more. How did you decide it was the right time to launch and what were the key challenges you faced in bringing Cocoa Runners to fruition?

Spencer: Thanks! We think it’s the right time too.  We’ve wanted to do this for ages.  And we do think that now is a great time for great chocolate – not least as we’re seeing more and more artisan manufacturers launching “bean to bar”. The UK has been blessed with Willie and Duffy, who’ve been around now for quite a few years.  And now almost every week there are new makers – for example in the UK there’s Pablo (Forever Cacao), Chris (Pump Street Bakery) and Ali (The Chocolate Tree).  The US is also exploding – makers such as Mast, Frution, TCHO, Taza and Dandelion pioneered the way and last year over 50 new “bean to bar” manufacturers launched.  And outside of this, bean to bar is taking off in cocoa growing regions – from South America and Madagascar  to Vietnam and Hawaii.  So we can really spoil our customers with a choice of makers from Brooklyn to Budapest, Saigon to San Francisco and Copenhagen to Cleethorpes.

You’ve sampled hundreds of bars to choose the ones to include in the Cocoa Runners boxes. Can you tell us a little about how you narrowed down the selection and what criteria you considered when picking the perfect bars?

Dom: Before we even taste a chocolate, the first thing we look at is provenance. We think it’s important that chocolate is traceable, sustainable and that it’s doing good for the cocoa farmer, and if we don’t think it lives up to those standards, we won’t consider it.

When it comes to taste, sometimes it’s a clear “yes” or “no”. When you’re dealing with small-batch craft chocolate, the passion and attention to detail of the maker often comes through in the flavour. More often than not though, we’ll still pick specific stand-out bars from a range rather than take everything.

I think it also helps that there are two of us doing the tasting. I taste most of the chocolate with Jennifer Earle, and although we’ve both been tasting chocolate for many years, we have different personal tastes. That helps us see past personal preferences and just choose the best chocolate.

Talk us through your chocolate profiling system and how you are using this to make recommendations that help customers find chocolate they love.

Dom: When developing Cocoa Runners, we looked at many different systems for profiling the flavour of chocolate, from flavour wheels to graphs. They were mostly difficult to decipher or just not very useful. We wanted a really simple system that would both help us classify the bars as we taste them, and let our members see what to expect at a glance.

What we came up with was a simple list of the most common attributes we find in chocolate. The list encompasses texture (smooth, coarse, etc.) and the natural flavour notes found within chocolate (fruity, spicy, earthy, etc.). We mark out each attribute that applies to the bar we’re tasting (so you can, for example, search for all ‘fruity & spicy dark chocolates from Peru’), then pick out three attributes for every bar that describe it at a glance.

Our tasting cards and website have icons these attributes, so you can see at a glance what to expect. This also means that we can build personal recommendations based on the types of chocolate you’ve liked in the past. Like a dating site, we find the attributes you’ve enjoyed the most and can recommend other bars that share those attributes.

What is it about chocolate that makes it so popular?

Dom: I think the first thing that makes chocolate popular is the taste.  It’s wonderful, comforting, and a little indulgent. But with the kind of chocolate we have eaten in the past in this country, there’s also a level of guilt attached.  We want to change that part!

We really want to spread the message that great chocolate is good for you  and makes a tangible difference to the lives of cocoa farmers in some of the poorest parts of the world.  All of the chocolate makers we feature have fascinating, uplifting stories  themselves, and we think sharing those stories is a vital part of what we do. These people are passionate about flavour, sustainability and the environment.

It’s such an exciting world to be involved with, and we just want to share that excitement with as many people as we can.

So what did I think of my box?

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I like the packaging on two levels. Firstly, it’s designed to fit through the letterbox and protect my chocolates in transit. Both of those it does very well. Secondly, it looks good – I think the logo is really attractive and I love the old-style map printed on the inside of the box lid (see below).

Of course, the name of the business is great too; a clever play on words suggesting that chocolate is the recreational drug of choice and these guys will break all the rules to get the very best of it to my front door. It’s bold and a little risqué without actually using any naughty words at all and it makes me smile.

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The tasting attribute icons are very helpful. Really easy to identify, they categorise each bar according to chocolate type, added flavourings, texture, flavour strength and flavour notes. Each bar comes with a card featuring the three key attributes for that chocolate plus more detailed tasting notes on the other side. As Dom has explained, this makes it easier to identify your preferences and find other bars with similar profiles. My only issue here is that each chocolate is summarised with just three icons, and given that one is always chocolate type, that only leaves two icons to cover the other four categories. Still, it’s a simple system and I can see it being really useful to customers. Oh and the graphic design on the icons is beautiful too.

The chocolate itself is absolutely superb. This much I expected, as the team includes some very knowledgeable experts who are passionate about great chocolate. I’ve already been introduced to some marvellous chocolate via these same experts over the years, so I knew they’d choose only the best to go into these boxes.

Each box has a theme. The first three boxes in any subscription will be Origins (which includes chocolate from some of Cocoa Runners’ favourite cocoa growing destinations), Texture & Flavour (which, as the name suggests, explores some of the wide range of both that you can find in chocolate) and Intensity (which, likewise, does what it says on the “tin”). After that, you’ll be sent boxes according to the theme Cocoa Runners have put together for that month.

The introductory offer is £16.95 per box (dropping to £14.95 if paid quarterly rather than monthly) and each box will contain 4 bars. That price includes UK delivery; they can also ship to the EU for an additional £2.50. You can specify in your profile that you wish to receive dark chocolate only, but as the FAQ points out, “there are some fantastic milk chocolates that most people have never tried. Some of them are even 70% cocoa.” Certainly the Menakao Madagascan Vanilla 44% milk chocolate in my box is delicious and something I think even those who usually eschew milk chocolate may enjoy. Cocoa Runners also offers subscribers the option of purchasing additional bars (either of chocolate they’ve received in their boxes and loved or of any other bars in the extensive chocolate library). Postage for these orders is £2.50, free on orders over £20.

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Earlier this year, one of the client projects I worked on meant long video conference meetings with colleagues in the US every week. The meetings were long and (let’s be frank) a little boring so I took to bringing in chocolate samples I’d been sent to review, to add a little joy to proceedings. I was delighted to bring at least a couple of my colleagues around to the idea of taking origin and flavour profiles of chocolate into consideration and giving higher quality chocolate a chance over the cheap, sugary brands they were more familiar with.

Cocoa Runners aim to do this on a far larger scale and with even more exciting chocolate sourced from all around the world.

I think it’s an absolutely excellent idea and it is just as good in execution. Colour me impressed.

DISCOUNT CODE

I am delighted to invite readers to enjoy £3 off their first month’s subscription to Cocoa Runners by using discount code “kaveyeats”. This code is valid until 31 January 2014.

 

Kavey Eats was sent a review box by Cocoa Runners.
I believe in open and honest disclosure; please note that I am friends with several of the Cocoa Runners team. As always, I have shared my honest opinion of the product.

Nov 272013
 

Twenty one and a half years ago, Pete and I started dating. A few months later, I went down to Beckenham to meet my future in-laws. Of course, I had no reason to be, but I was pretty nervous all the same. Not only was I meeting his parents but three of his siblings and two of their offspring too. *gulp*

Baby Sam was about 6 weeks old. I remember how pleased I was when this tiny crying bundle calmed down and stopped crying as soon as I took him into my arms. That felt like a welcome, right there! Of course, the entire family was enormously welcoming and it was a lovely day. But the person who calmed me down the most was little Rosie. She was a two year old whirlwind of excitement and affection and from the first time we met, we were firm friends.

KaveyRosie1994 (1 of 1)

Here she is (with me) a couple of years later, at our wedding. That’s the date she and Sam (and a few months later, their younger sister Jennifer) officially became my nieces and nephews and I have loved being Aunty Kavey ever since.

Rosie has always been an active partner in keeping the relationship close, sending us cards and letters and calling on the phone. As soon as she was old enough, she came to stay with us for the weekend every few months. At first, Rosie’s mum Kate (Pete’s middle sister) would come with her on the train to Waterloo, I’d meet them at the platform for a handover and Rosie and I would hop onto the tube to our place. As she got older, she’d do the train journey on her own, mum dropping her off at one end and me meeting her off the train at the other.

We spent the weekends cooking together at home; eating out, introducing her to some of our favourite foods; talking about books all three of us had enjoyed reading – she’s a bookworm, like us, and loves science-fiction too; taking her clothes shopping, which was such a pleasure because she’s the complete opposite to the “me me me I want I want” generation.

I think she was about 13 when we took her to Paris. She’s a warm, friendly girl but rather shy, so I pushed her just a tiny bit into using her basic French skills to order her meals and ask for a carafe of water, in restaurants. I can still remember her genuine pride and delight when she did so, and the restaurant staff nodding in understanding and smiling encouragement.

These days, we share a fondness for trawling through charity shops, giggling at some of the outfits she tries on in her hunt for potential LARPing costumes and congratulating each other on our fabulous bargains.

She’s very clever too, did I mention that? All grown up now, she studied at Imperial College London for her bachelors degree in Biology and went on to do a Masters of Science in Ecological Applications. She’s also kind, generous, friendly, loyal and cares for the world around her.

The reason I’m telling you about my lovely niece is that Thorntons approached me recently with an offer I couldn’t refuse. They asked if I’d like to send a gift box of chocolates to someone who deserved them. Did I know someone who needed cheering up and spoiling? Well, yes I did, actually.

These last two years have been hard for Rosie. Last year, after a period of remission, her mum’s cancer came back and this time it was terminal. Rosie moved back home to help and spend time with her mum and younger sister. It wasn’t an easy few months. Kate wanted to die at home, so a bed was set up in the living room; she used the time to put everything in order, to organise her funeral, to sort out her will and decide what would happen to her various animals. This time was bittersweet too – we visited every week that Kate remained with us and enjoyed some of the best conversations we’d ever had, full of reminiscence and laughter and frankness and occasional seriousness. How unfair to lose her at the peak of her life! The months after losing Kate were difficult for everyone, her three children most of all, of course.

Rosie’s had a lot of other tough things to deal with too, since then. I won’t talk about them here, because you don’t need to know. What I do want to do is send a message to Rosie and let her know that everything will turn out OK, she will land on her feet and she will have a good and happy life, even though things feel like a struggle at the moment.

Rosie, my lovely niece, I hope this little parcel from Thortons put a smile on your face. I love you and I’m so proud of you. Chin up!

 

With thanks to Thortons for inviting me to take part in their Christmas Hero campaign.

Here’s a snap Rosie sent me of the goodies she was sent.

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Mendiant.

It’s an interesting word, isn’t it?

It usually refers to a disc of chocolate with flavours and toppings added. But what’s the origin of this chocolate treat?

Traditionally, a mendiant is a French confection described as a chocolate disc studded with dried fruits and nuts that represent the four mediaeval Roman Catholic mendicant orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites; Mendicant comes from the Latin verb mendicans, to beg, describing the reliance of these orders on begging for charitable donations, following their vows of poverty. Figs, raisins, almonds and hazelnuts were chosen for their colours, each representing the robes of one of the monastic orders.

In Provence, the Christmas tradition is to finish the celebration meal with the 13 desserts of Noël, representing Jesus and his twelve apostles. The list of items varies among households but nearly always includes the four ingredients representing the mendicant orders.

Today, mendiants often have flavours added into the chocolate as well as a much wider range of toppings than the four original fruits and nuts.

BettysMendiants

This Christmas, Bettys have three different mendiants in their range.

I’m most intrigued by the Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh ones. Dark chocolate discs are flavoured with oils of frankincense and myrrh, and sprinkled with golden sugar crystals. The flavour is musky and citrusy and rather delicious. They are priced at £7.95 for 85 grams and come in a pretty presentation tube.

Crystallised Orange Mendiants are also wonderful. The crystallised citrus fruit pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate. They cost £7.25 for an 85 gram tube.

And last but not least are the Peppermint Mendiants, in which peppermint oil has been mixed into the dark chocolate. The sugar crystals on top are pepperminty too! These are also £7.25 for an 85 gram tube.

BettysMintMendiants-4167

 

COMPETITION

Bettys are kindly offering one Kavey Eats reader a set of all three chocolate mendiants above. The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

 

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me what flavourings and toppings you’d use on a chocolate mendiant.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a set of chocolate mendiants from Kavey Eats and @Bettys1919! http://goo.gl/KdH90I #KaveyEatsBettysMendiants
You don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet.

Entry 3 – Facebook
Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

 

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 6th December 2013.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a set of three chocolate mendiants from Bettys of Harrogate , with free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Bettys of Harrogate.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

 

With thanks again to Bettys for review samples.

This competition is closed. The winner is Jason Fallows (@smilingback2u).

 

Known as Delights & Decadence, these tea and coffee chocolate caramel cups are one of London chocolatier Demarquette’s new ranges.

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Marc cites his inspiration as “our nation’s symbolic and emotional attachment to the calming element and graceful event of ‘Afternoon Tea’” but doesn’t overlook the coffee-loving half of the population either. The set includes four tea flavours and two coffee ones and retails at £19.75 for a box of 12.

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Of the teas, my favourite is Darjeeling Tea, in which a clear black tea flavour blends beautifully with the smooth caramel and dark chocolate cup.

Jasmine Tea is more subtle, so it’s more about the delicious caramel and dark chocolate.

Chai is all about the spices and marries well with milk chocolate.

Earl Grey Tea, also in dark chocolate, is another one I particularly enjoy; the citrus notes of bergamot are very refreshing.

Bedouin Coffee is the coffee drinkers version of Chai, blending Arabian spices and strong coffee together.

But the coffee one I like more is the lovely Viennese Coffee, containing a delicious coffee and fig caramel inspired by the indulgent coffee shops treats of Vienna.

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These are beautiful chocolates and would make a lovely gift for any chocolate, tea and coffee lover.

 

Kavey Eats was sent samples of the new range from Demarquette Fine chocolates.

 

Good news for North Londoners! Camden Lock Market, once a great place to find funky clothes, second hand records, gothic fashion and a fantastically random selection of junk and treasure is now also becoming a great food and drink destination. Chin Chin Laboratorists, purveyors of very fine liquid nitrogen ice cream have been joined by a growing band of small, independent businesses serving an eclectic range of delicious treats.

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Pete and I made a happy stop to visit Mighty Fine’s sweet little sweet shop on Camden Lock Place, to try their newly launched hot chocolate menu.

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To a rich, dark hot chocolate, customers can add one (or more) of 10 flavoured syrups and 10 toppings. The potential combinations give Mighty Fine their sales pitch of “Hot Chocolate 100 Ways”, though I urge you not to overlook option 101 – trying the hot chocolate plain, which is very good indeed.

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As if the hot chocolate menu wasn’t enough, owners Kit Tomlinson and Ross Newton also make and sell delicious fudge, chocolate slabs, chocolate truffles and honeycomb, made fresh within the tiny shop. Time your visit well and you’ll be able to watch Ross at work in the open corner kitchen.

The pair met whilst working in the food television industry but made the move to set up their own food business instead. Ross comes from a family of chocolate makers, though previous generations have been involved in much larger scale operations, rather than this hands-on, quality-driven business.

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After watching Ross roll and dip his freshly made bacon chocolate truffles, we tried a few of his creations including the recently finished bacon balls (not pictured) followed by fresh mint, cherry tobacco, salted caramel and passion fruit truffles. All were much enjoyed, though I’d prefer a little more tobacco kick to the cherry tobacco – the fruit flavour comes through more than the baccy. The mint and the passion fruit were particularly wonderful, full of really fresh and vibrant flavours. And anyone who loves sweet and salty combos will appreciate the smoky salty hit of the bacon balls!

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Of course, they are popular with the constant stream of tourists, but they are also building up a loyal following of regulars who come back for regular hits of their chocolate, fudge and honeycomb treats.

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Mighty Fine Chocolate & Fudge Kitchen are open 7 days a week, from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.

 

Kavey Eats sampled products at the invitation of Mighty Fine.

 

Moser Roth is a long-standing German chocolate brand which seems to have passed through a few hands in recent decades. It’s now sold globally, exclusively through Aldi stores as far as I can tell.

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Priced at £1.09 each for 125 grams, the range includes milk and dark chocolate as well as a number of flavoured bars. I think there are also some filled bars which are slightly more expensive.

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Inside each box are 5 individually foil-wrapped mini bars. This makes the bars great for sharing or, as I’m currently doing, keeping in the office drawer in case of emergencies. Note: emergencies commonly involve brain drain after a particularly long and boring meeting and eye strain after a day spent peering at Excel. Your mileage may vary!

The quality is lower to middle of the stream, which matches the pricing. For my money, I like these better than the cheap big brand milk chocolates but not as much as somewhat pricier brands such as Green & Black’s. Then again, Green & Black’s use cocoa butter. Obviously, it’s not fair to compare Moser Roth to higher end chocolate with its correspondingly higher prices.

Moser Roth use vegetable oil, as do most lower end manufacturers. But I am happy that their bars are palm oil free, which is great news for habitats and wildlife endangered by rampant palm oil production.

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The milk chocolate bar is creamy smooth and quite sweet. It strongly reminds both Pete and I of Galaxy milk chocolate in taste. This is the chocolate we’re reaching for when we need a chocolate and sugar hit.

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The milk chocolate caramel is divisive though we both really like it. Pete is wrong-footed by his expectation of a soft, more liquid caramel filling in place of the harder, slightly crunchy and slightly chewy texture in these bars and thinks they should be labelled as toffee. I don’t mind the solid caramel at all, in fact I rather like it. Again, the overall bar is very sweet, but also surprisingly addictive.

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The 70% dark is shockingly sweet – far too sweet for me; it reminds me of Bournville even though the cocoa content is much higher. Pete finds it “quite tolerable”, which is very telling as he usually won’t eat dark chocolate at all. It does have just a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste, but needs a lot more of it in my opinion.

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The dark chocolate with chilli is similarly sweet. Pete describes it as having a nice hint of chilli heat but it is missing the fruity flavour that chilli can provide. That said, he likes it.

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Dark chocolate, orange and almond is reminiscent of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. The almond doesn’t come through in the taste, and serves only to give it a slightly gritty texture. That’s a shame as I like the flavour of the chocolate and orange together.

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The 85% dark chocolate is, unsurprisingly, deemed too dark by Pete. Yet it’s not particularly bitter. In fact, I find it a little bland in terms of flavour, like an under-roasted coffee. It comes into its own when stirred into coffee and I can imagine it making good hot chocolate or used as an ingredient for baking.

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The dark chocolate and mint is one of our favourites, probably because the bitterness of chocolate, sweetness of sugar and strength of mint are balanced on similar lines to nostalgia-inducing favourites such as After Eights, Bendicks and mint Matchmakers!

 

COMPETITION

Aldi have offered a set of all the bars above to one Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.

 

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me which Moser Roth bar you are most looking forward to trying, and why.

Entry 2 – Facebook

Like the Kavey Eats Facebook and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a selection of Moser Roth chocolate bars from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/GlNPn #KaveyEatsMoserRoth
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the hashtag. And you don’t need to leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

 

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 28th June 2013.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is a set of seven bars of Aldi’s Moser Roth range of chocolates, as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Aldi.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received review samples from Aldi.

The winner of this competition was Maxine Grant.

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