Chocolate’s Team GB
The Olympics and Paralympics are not the only international competitions being hosted by Britain this year. This October Britain will stage The International Chocolate Awards. This new competition aims to recognise the best fine chocolate from around the world – and give all entrants a fair chance.
The winners of the European Semi-Final 2012 were announced earlier this month. We are thrilled to report that Britain’s talented chocolatiers have scooped medals across most categories.
Undisputed British champion is Damian Allsop with five Gold medals while Paul A. Young picked up a Gold and three Silvers. Our heartfelt congratulations also go to fellow British winners Hotel Chocolat, Rococo, Iain Burnett, Boutique Aromatique, Matcha, Lauden Chocolate, Chococo, Melt and Nicky Grant.
We hope that like the Olympics, over time every cocoa-growing nation will be represented in this competition and that currently unknown chocolate makers will receive the worldwide recognition they deserve.
Cadbury. The Chocolate of Olympic Champions?
London won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games on a promise to inspire Britain’s youth to get fitter. When Cadbury became the ‘Official Treat Provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ with a sponsorship package in excess of £20 million, the association was always going to court controversy.
Cadbury has leveraged its sponsorship with its biggest marketing push to date. According to chief strategy officer at PHD Media Ltd. Hugh Cameron: “The idea was to use the Olympics to put the spirit of play back into the fabric of national life.”
Their advertising campaigns have included a Spots v. Stripes campaign (launched in August 2010), the Crème Egg Goo Games and a postcard campaign that invites the nation to support our athletic hopefuls.
How appropriate is it for a multi-national chocolate manufacturer to sponsor a major sporting event? Some argue that we should be grateful for the financial support of global conglomerates like Kraft, Cadbury’s US owners. Others such as Tam Fry from The National Obesity Forum take a more skeptical view: “Whether you like it or not, children of a certain age, around seven or eight, are extremely impressionable about the message they get from advertising.”
The three food and drink related sponsors of the London Olympics are Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In a recent online survey of 1,995 UK adults conducted by Which? 64% agreed with the statement that ‘it undermines the healthy ethos of the Olympics to be sponsored by companies that are perceived to make mainly unhealthy food and drink’. Nearly two thirds of respondents agreed that such sponsorship deals make it harder to tackle obesity and poor diet.*
No matter where you stand in the Cadbury’s sponsorship debate, one thing is clear. In Britain today there is an irrefutable lack of wholesome, healthy food producers with the financial clout to rival global brands such as Cadbury.
Chocolate and sport may never make easy bedfellows. However, eaten in moderation, some indulgences are certainly better for you than others. According to Chantal Coady’s book ‘Real Chocolate’, mass produced chocolate contains as little as 5% cocoa, added sugar, hydrogenated fat, oil and artificial flavourings such as synthetic vanillin (which is made from the petrochemical precursor guaiacol).
Artisanal chocolate, on the other hand, is made from natural ingredients. It contains a higher cocoa content so the same sense of satisfaction can be attained with just a square or two. It follows that the less chocolate you eat, the less weight you gain.
Dark (70% or higher) and raw chocolate are packed with cell-protecting flavanol antioxidants. When made with natural sweeteners, they also have a lower glycemic index than milk chocolate made from refined sugar – so won’t make your blood sugar levels spike, then crash a few hours later.
If the message at the heart of the London Olympics is to inspire future generations to get fitter, then perhaps we should be educating our children to make healthier food choices – even when it comes to treats.
* Source: Which? online survey of 1,995 UK adults conducted in February 2012
Raising the Bar: Our Alternative Olympic Treats
GOLD: Damian Allsop’s Eat London
Damian Allsop is a master of invention best known for his pioneering water-based ganache.
While many chocolatiers have responded to the wave of patriotism sweeping the nation with a flurry of red, white and blue packaging, Allsop’s latest Eat London range offers an altogether more thoughtful celebration of Britain’s cultural diversity.
Presented are six bars, each named after a London street associated with the community who live there. ‘Edgware Road’ celebrates Arabic culture with hints of Ras el Hanout and honey. Italian café culture inspired ‘Soho Square’ with its summery pairing of raspberry and fresh basil. ‘Grosvenor Square’ pays homage to America with white chocolate, popping candy, cinnamon and lemon (the base flavours of Coca Cola).
‘Brick Lane’ is a tribute to London’s Asian community that comes laced with fresh mangoes and basmati rice crisps. Salty meets sweet in ‘Chinatown’ with bursts of soy, caramelized peanuts and fresh ginger.
The Afro-Caribbean bar ‘Brixton Hill’ strikes the perfect balance between smooth and crunchy, sweet bananas and the bitterness of coffee. The experience is akin to basking in Jamaican sunshine – no mean feat on a rainy London afternoon!
This being Damian Allsop, master of invention, these bars change flavour on your tongue. Once the chocolate melts and you bite into the crunchy ingredients concealed within (homemade fruit and spice crisps or caramelized nuts), you are rewarded with intense waves of flavour that build into a complex story of taste and texture.
These are exciting, ‘intelligent’ bars that reaffirm Allsop’s reputation as one of Britain’s brightest chocolatiers.
SILVER: Amelia Rope’s Olympic Trio
Amelia Rope is the winner of four Academy of Chocolate Awards (2011). Her chocolate bars are hand made in the UK using organic aromatherapy oils and ethically and sustainably sourced cocoa.
Amelia’s understated bundle of red, white and blue bars proves patriotism can be chic. Latte lovers will delight in her aromatic Pale Coffee Bean Edition 01. The bar is made from 39% Ecuadorian couverture and liberally scattered with perfectly roasted whole Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee beans that give the bar a pleasing crunch.
The second milk chocolate bar is Pale Lime & Sea Salt Edition 02. This one is all about nostalgia, bringing back (fuzzy) memories of Tequila Slammers and the zingy tang of Opal Fruits on a hot summer’s day. The trio is completed with Dark Hazelnut & Sea Salt Edition 01 created from 67% spicy dark chocolate from Madagascar, Maldon sea salt and roasted organic hazelnuts. If you prefer savoury to sweet, then this munch-able bar is for you.
BRONZE: Rococo’s Union Jack Selection
Rococo’s new patriotic selection delivers British creativity in abundance. The chocolates are presented in a distressed Union Jack box that looks more like a tribute to The Sex Pistols than Her Majesty The Queen.
Inside are an eccentric mix of twenty chocolates, from über trad Rose and Violet Creams and Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles to adventurous experiments with flowers, fruits and spices such as the fragrant Rose, Raspberry and Lychee Ganache in Dark Chocolate or zingy Lemon Praline Ganache in Milk Chocolate.
Big in Belgium
Belgian chocolate sometimes gets a hard time from chocolate aficionados. British chocolatier Paul A. Young famously pronounced in an interview with The Independent that it was too sugary for his tastes, preferring instead the cocoa-rich complexity of French and Italian chocolate.
Daskalidès, one of Belgium’s leading praline makers, is looking to challenge such perceptions with the launch this month of their first UK shop and chocolate café in London’s Covent Garden.
Look out for their lower calorie range of sugar free pralines and tablets (made from the cereal-based sweetener malitol) created by Master Chocolatier Didier Peynaert. To what extent these pralines will woo Britain’s chocophiles, only time will tell.
Daskalidès, 76 Covent Garden, 76 Long Acre, WC2H 9JS
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