Tag Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Week Competition

To celebrate Chocolate Week I am giving away a scrummy hamper packed with a selection of my best-selling chocolates.20121009-104929.jpg

The hamper includes:

4 Artisan Bars topped with Cinder Toffee, Ginger, Fruit and Nuts

1 Sold Heart studded with Fudge

1 Vintage Tea Cup with a pack of our delicious Hot Chocolate

1 Jar of delicious Raspberry & Chilli Chocolate Jam made by The Jammy Cow

1 Bag of Cinder Toffee

1 Cylinder Gift Box filled with a selection of Truffles and Chocolates

And one of our Signature Brownies

RRP £70.00!

For your chance to win this amazing hamper, please answer the following question

In what year did Toot Sweets win 2 Stars from the Great Taste Awards for the Dark Shropshire Lavender Truffle? Please fill in the answer form below

THE WINNER is Katie Macdonald

The competition will be open till Sunday 14th October

er, closing at midnight. The winner will be drawn on Monday 15th October, and contacted via email, the winners name will be published on Twitter, Facebook and this Blog. The winner will have the choice of collection or delivery and may wait till Christmas for the Hamper if they wish too.

Email addresses will not be passed on to any 3rd parties, but from time to time Toot Sweets may send out emails about new products and events. If you do not want to receive emails from us please let us know in the comments box.


Chilli Festival- 23rd September

Join me on Sunday the 23rd of September at Dorothy Clive Gardens for their annual Chilli Festival. I will be making my well known scrummy Chilli Truffles which are rolled in cocoa powder as well as making special Chilli Chocolate Brownies and Chilli Chocolate Tarts. I will also have a selection of other chocolates including Cardamom, Salted Caramels and Rose and Violets.

Please let me know if you’d like any more information


Antiquity Vintage Fair

If you follow me on twitter and facebook you will have seen that over the last few months I have been going to the Anstice Hall in Madeley for the Antiquity Vintage Fairs. The Hall is a hidden gem, one of the oldest working men’s clubs in the country it looks very much like a typical old building, it’s only when you go upstairs to the ballroom do you realise how amazing the hall really is.

Again the lovely Col or @RollerColster if you are on twitter was on hand to take picture of all the stall holders’ products. I’ve added some pictures below of my stand, some of Grandmas’ Attic (my neighbours in Shrewsbury Market Hall) and the general location.


Shrewsbury Market Hall Revival

Last August we took over the ownership of the sweet shop in the Market Hall, we’ve finally got round to sprinkling the Toots magic on the unit after waiting for our floor to be resurfaced. We’ve now got one of our beautiful chocolate fridges positioned in the shop and customers can now walk straight into the shop. As a few of you will know the shop units in the market all have large static counters, we’ve removed ours making the shop feel much bigger and open. The shop looks so much better now people can walk into the shop and look at the sweets properly as well as being able to have more choice.

We’ve still got lots of improvements to make, but it’s a really exciting time all round. We’ll be stocking and providing all the fab
products and services available on our website as well as linking up with other shops in the market to provide some exciting services (announcements coming soon). We’ll have a dedicated Wedding Favour section, our handmade chocolates, truffles, chocolate bars, and lots of well known traditional sweeties, party bags, lolly pops and lots of special at weekends.

The Market has recently gone under a major revamp, with new shop owners in one particular corner turning the area into a vibrant Mecca for
crafts and vintage delights. My shop is situated just on the corner of the newly revamped area next to the Birds Nest Cafe, it offers a fabulous mix of whole foods serving Fair-trade tea and coffee, homemade soup and delicious freshly made sandwiches. I sampled a Hummus and Roasted Vegetable sandwich the other day. A great combination of flavours enhanced with some pesto and fresh bread. Arran and Victor have worked hard to transform the cafe area using fairy lights and really tree branches to decorate the walls and ceiling. All the furniture is recycled vintage pieces picked up along their travels.

Jo Bloodworth will also be opening a new shop at the end of June, which will be packed with fantastic gifts, retro glass ware and her own,
designed and made gifts such as dresses and aprons. Jo has a huge following in Shrewsbury because of her wonderful and creative one off pieces.

Dog-eared Vintage and Vintage Gem’s bring the retro sparkle into the crafty corner; both have a great selection of clothes and accessories,
and a must for any student or vintage fan looking for a statement piece with character.

Adding some glamour to our corner of the Market is SalakjitNail Art offering a range of services such as Manicures, Pedicures, and Gel
Nail Extensions on Saturdays.  Private Nail Parties for Adults and Children are also available

Ilovecompost.com has taken over the last unit in the corner, as a working artist Sam will be producing commissions from the shop while
helping to spread the arty message with classes for children. Recently she held a paint class where toddlers got the chance to paint cats and learn about how they moved; they finished the class with a story read by Susan from Pengwern books. A lovely interactive class with many more planned.

Lastly although not in the corner of the market Toot Sweets is based in, but something I really do believe is a gem and a must for any
foodie to visit; Mirage Mediterrean Mezze. Working within the food industry you really do get to experience lots of good and bad eateries. Mirage is one of the amazing ones; family run and bursting with so much potential. Situated at the back of the market in the opposite corner to Toot Sweets. Mirage sells a range of Mediterranean goods as well as serving freshly made food in its restaurant area, food is also available to take away. I often pop over for a wrap for my lunch; I can highly recommend the Halloumi wrap. A vibrant combination of salty warm Halloumi dressed with chunks of tomato, refreshing mint leaves and cooling cucumber; a vegetarian’s delight! With a range of mezze dishes (tapas style) you can sit down order a few dishes and while away the afternoon catching up with friends in the relaxed atmosphere. The Baklava is also exquisite; layers of puff pastry adorned with pistachio nuts and drenched in honey, baked and cut into cubes. I often find shop bought baklava is too sweet and usually baked to an inch of its life making the risk of breaking a tooth likely. Mirage’s baklava is definitely worth a try, moist, sweet and positively nutty!

The Market hall is bursting with a huge variety of different shops; fresh local veg, handmade cakes, delis, antiques, children’s clothing, a
fish bar…you name it and its here. If you’ve never been to the market I definitely recommend a visit the opening hours are:

Tuesday 9-4

Wednesday 9-4

Thursday 9-1

Friday 9-4

Saturday 9-4

The Market hall has recently joined facebook and will have a twitter account very soon. Please check out there facebook page, and if you’re
not already a member of the Toot Sweets Page please join.


Cocoa Facts

It’s nearly Easter so here are some delicious facts about Cocoa  🙂

Carl von Linne (Swedish Botanist) gave the Cocoa tree the name Theobroma Cacao, this transalates as “drink of the gods”. The Greek word theos (gods) and broma (drink) make up the name and reflect the Mayan belief that the cocoa tree belonged to the gods.

Cocoa tree grows in tropical rainforest in the shade of bigger trees and thrive in warm humid climates. The trees can grow up to 15 metres in height, but are usually kept shorter so the pods can be accessed easily. The pods change colour during the ripening process, they are oval shaped, pointed at both ends and about 20cm long. They contain between 20-40 beans.

Check out the other interesting facts below (taken from www.worldcocoafoundation.org) :

  • Number of cocoa farmers, worldwide: 5-6 million
  • Number of people who depend upon cocoa for their livelihood, worldwide: 40-50 million
  • Annual cocoa production, worldwide: 3 million tons
  • Annual increase in demand for cocoa: 3 percent per year, for the past 100 years
  • Current global market value of annual cocoa crop: $5.1 billion
  • Cocoa growing regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, South America (all within 20 degrees of the equator)
  • Percentage of cocoa that comes from West Africa: 70 percent
  • Length of time required for a cocoa tree to produce its first beans (pods): five years
  • Duration of “peak growing period” for the average cocoa tree: 10 years

How to taste Chocolate

You may have heard chefs or read reviews which use the following terms snap, aroma, mouth feel.

Unless you’ve taken the time to really research chocolate and how it should be tasted all these terms can be quite mind boggling, so here’s my tips on how to taste chocolate.

 When tasting chocolate I find it’s best to choose plain bars rather than truffles, bonbons or bars which have been flavoured with anything. You don’t want anything to get in the way of the actual flavour of the chocolate. Chocolate like wine and coffee has its own distinct flavour, especially when trying Single Origin or Bean to bar chocolate.

Here’s our step by step guide to tasting chocolate:

Before you start make sure all your bars are at room temperature as chocolate which is very cold or even refrigerated will hide certain flavours. Also don’t be afraid to take a large piece of chocolate to try, you’re not going to be able to pick up all the different notes within the chocolate flavour with a tiny piece of chocolate.  Eat a piece of apple before you move on to the next sample of chocolate to clear your palette.

 Appearance:

We taste with our eyes as much as our mouths. The chocolate should have a good texture, not too soft or brittle, a shiny gloss with no bloom. Blooming is an indication of poor quality storage conditions (temperature) causing the sugar or fat to separate or poor quality tempering.

The colour of the chocolate is not an indication of quality of Cacao content. The environment the Cacao beans have been grown in as well as how they have been roasted will also have an effect on the overall colour. Cacao content doesn’t always symbolise good quality you may find a bar of high percentage cacao will have been produced with a poor quality cacao.

 Snap:

The “snap” should be a clear crisp sound which is produced when breaking a piece of chocolate. The crack or snap can be felt and heard when biting into the chocolate. A clean snapping sound demonstrates how well tempered the chocolate is, also the higher the cacao content the harder the chocolate will be to break and the louder the snap. Milk and White chocolate has lower cacao content so the snapping sound will be less pronounced and softer compared to dark chocolate.

Aroma:

As I have said previously chocolate takes on different flavours because of its environment, so just like Wine and Coffee chocolate from one country or plantation will have a totally different flavour and smell to another countries chocolate.

Single Origin Chocolate will have a more developed aroma compared to standard chocolate which has been made using various beans.

An experienced taster over time will also be able to learn the different aromas produced from different roasting techniques.

Here are some general descriptions to look out for when smelling the chocolate:

  • Fruity/ Citrus
  • Grassy/Green/Herbal
  • Floral
  • Nutty
  • Spicy
  • Woody
  • Caramel
  • Chemical
  • Sweet/Sugary

 

There are lots of different ways of describing aromas which is part of the fun of tasting!

Mouthful:

This is literally how the chocolate feels in your mouth, the texture and any other sensations you might feel. A high quality chocolate will melt in your mouth without you having to chew.

Texture- is it smooth, grainy, gritty, velvety, creamy, waxy or greasy?

N.B.  A waxy texture is usually a tell- tell sign that vegetable fat has been used instead of Cocoa Butter.

Taste- the best bit:

Hopefully if you’ve followed the above instructions when you actually get to taste the chocolate you will appreciate how much more you notice about the overall flavour.

Firstly beware that what you smell doesn’t always mean you will taste the same flavour, and what you taste may not feature in the aroma.

A good quality chocolate will have a series of flavours so take time to let the chocolate melt and taste the different stages of flavour. The after taste will certainly be different to the initial taste, also like wine tasting the after taste maybe short or long and linger.

As with all tastings the more varieties you try the better as over time you will pick up differences and recognise aromas, tastes and appearances more easily…..so the more homework the better! Make sure you have a clean palette before you try new chocolates. Everyone’s palettes are different, so tasting in groups will make the experience more enjoyable and interesting.

Start with the lowest Cacao content and slowly work your way up to the higher percentages. Starting with the lowest will allow you to pick up the difference in tastes/percentages of cacao in the each sample of chocolate.

Like all expert tastings you won’t suddenly pick everything up, but with practice and experience you will. The most important thing is to have fun.

 In the coming months we will be launching a special range of Single Origin bars perfect for tasting.


Chocolate

Chocolate is a hugely important part of my life, obviously because of what I do, but it’s also attached to a lot of memories. I was brought up to appreciate food; its origins, flavour and that quantity doesn’t always mean quality.

One of my earliest Easter memories is sitting on my parents bed unwrapping a cello wrapped chocolate hen, the hen was pretty huge and there was no way I was going to manage to eat the whole thing in one go (although I’m sure I would have loved to have tried). I loved how all the features of the hen appeared in the chocolate J

Chocolate really awakes all the senses, aesthetically it’s enticing, and the smell is sweet, rich and immediately awakens the taste buds before you’ve even tasted it. Chocolate like a fine wine or coffee can have many layers in its flavour. Sometimes very fruity, sometimes with nutty tones or a creamy sweet flavour.

Like most foods I find people will have completely different outlooks and it can be really had to say what is right from wrong. Chocolate once a treat has become a huge commodity with people just picking up a bar and not caring where the cocoa is sourced, how the chocolate is made and what it contains. Your bog standard bar is a mixture of vegetable fat, vanilla, sugars and quite frankly only a little bit of chocolate. All my customers complain that they never feel satisfied when they eat a standard bar of chocolate they just crave more, however when they eat a chocolate with a high cocoa content and not jam packed with fats and vanilla they instantly feel satisfied, they love the complexity of the flavour and how they don’t crave chocolate. They simple don’t crave the chocolate in the same way because of the higher quantity of cocoa in the chocolates.

A fresh handmade chocolate has a depth of flavour and a far superior texture compared to a mass produced chocolate.


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