Notes on chocolate: fascinating flavours are all about the beans


An interesting thing to do with chocolate is to sit down and compare how the bean used impacts on the taste of the bar. I used to just go on the cocoa percentage – this is often all many of us have to go on. But so many things can affect the flavour of chocolate beyond mere maths: the bean naturally, but also the type of soil in which it’s been grown, and how it was roasted and fermented, among other things.

This comparison taste test usually happens with dark chocolate, where it gets terribly serious and you feel that you have to come up with increasingly inventive names to describe the bean.

So it was fun, this week, to compare two milk chocolates from one of the heavyweights (in terms of status, not size) in chocolate: Duffy Sheardown of Duffy’s chocolate, based in Lincolnshire.

Both were 45%-cocoa content bars (and yet in neither was sugar the first ingredient), but one used beans from the Dominican Republic and one from Nicaragua. The tasting notes for the former (£5.65/60g) said fruity, green tea and peach and while I’m not a fan of just copying tasting notes, I did get green tea and peaches. It’s possibly the most interesting milk I’ve ever tasted. If you usually like dark chocolate and are a bit snotty about milk chocolate, do give this a go – you’ll not be disappointed.

The latter, called Oh Juno! (£6.95/60g), is the softer, slightly creamier sibling with a lingering caramel finish and many prizes in its awards cabinet.