Notes on chocolate: a crash course in dark chocolate’s healing power


I fell off my bike this week, barely going at 5mph. This is because my shoelaces were so foolishly loopy they got caught on my bike chain and wound themselves around my pedal shaft. Of course there were workmen to witness this. Luckily – thanks to this job – my right haunch is well padded and took the impact. As I said in my first column: chocolate can help at these times, so this is what I administered.

Waitrose No 1’s Ecuador 90%, (£2, 100g) was a comforting surprise, so incredibly smooth that none of my blind testers guessed the high cocoa percentage – definitely keep this in the medicine cupboard. Two from Solkiki (solkiki.co.uk) proved distractingly flavourful: Gran Palo 72% and the Costa Esmeraldas 70+0 (both £7.50, 56g). The former has just three ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar and cocoa butter. The latter just cocoa and sugar. The Gran Palo was malty and rich with deep, dark, plummy flavours. The Costa Esmeraldas had a hint of Christmas spicy biscuit with bright fruit elements that didn’t scare the horses. Then I gave myself up to Original Beans Piura 75% (£4.95, 70g, originalbeans.com) which was crisp and almost raisiny. The Peruvian beans it’s made from were pulled back from extinction and now their growing area provides a haven for butterflies.

My last bar was Hotel Chocolat’s 75% Colombia (£3.75, 35g), sampled while cutting my laces to a more suitable length. Don’t let the word ‘oak’ on the wrapper put you off (anything oaky is a no for me), the overwhelming flavour here was butterscotch. I smacked my lips as the bruising started.

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