Konnichiwa yet again, spice lovers, and welcome to another mildly japanese-themed post. This time, a tuesday review, featuring one of my favourite holidays and one of my least favourite companies.
You see, I’ve tried all of the Screaming Chimp’s main range (as you can find links to in my sidebar) and I didn’t hate them. In fact, I quite liked a fair few of them, I just didn’t find that the chilli flavour came across very strongly. And they took issue with that.
I don’t dislike their products but I’ve come to hate talking about them because it always ends in a twitter argument that I’d really rather not be a part of. All because I’m trying to give an honest opinion.
But today, I think things are going to be a little different. Because their limited edition sauce certainly is and their chocolate is perfect for a white day post.
So what exactly is white day? Well, its other name, the more colloquial “reverse valentines day”, might give you a hint but it’s nothing like St Skeletor’s on the fifteenth of february or the cruder march fourteenth holiday celebrated by students. In fact, it’s not even about men.
No, while valentines day might typically be about treating your female other half in the west, it’s the women who give out chocolate then in japan and white day is about returning the favour. About showing that your connection is mutual with the fanciest chocolate treat you can craft.
I don’t really celebrate it, being single and all, but I still love the idea of the holiday – Or of any excuse to show affection through my kitchen creations, really. And you know I’d be sending cupcakes and truffles to Grim Reaper Foods every year if I thought that Russel would take food-based thanks by mail for his fabulous confection.
Today, though, we’re not here to talk about what he makes. Or even what I make.
Today, we’re looking at what The Chocolate Smiths make for the Screaming Chimp.
Two bars of chocolate, one white and one milk, all wrapped up in the Chimp’s usual fake parchment design. Their fantastic namesake logo taking top billing on each but also leaving plenty of room to show the ingredients down below.
If you scroll back up to have a look, you’ll see coffee beans and red chillies on the milk, while the white is adorned with the same peppers and a gorgeously ripe-looking mango.
Both use scotch bonnets, both look utterly delicious and both snap with a far more audible and satisfying sound than I could possible have hoped. But, before I actually give my thoughts on either’s taste, here’s what goes into them:
The milk contains:
Belgian Milk Chocolate (Sugar (43.2%), Cocoa butter (22.8%), Whole Milk powder (22.4%), Cocoa mass (11.2%), Soya lecithin (E322), Natural vanilla flavouring) Coffee Beans, Scotch Bonnet Chilli Powder
While the white contains:
Belgian White Chocolate (45.7% sugar, 27.9% cocoa butter, 25.7% Whole Milk Powder, 0.6% Soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavouring, Mango Flavouring (Flavouring Preparations, Flavouring Substances, Natural Flavouring Substances, Invert Sugar, Propylene Glycol (43%) Water) Scotch Bonnet Chilli Powder
and I’m a little disturbed.
Partially by the fact that I had to read that second list five times to work out where the first close bracket should have gone but mostly because I genuinely didn’t realise that its smooth, tropical, aromatic but not perfumed, fruity flavour was almost entirely fake.
There is no actual mango in this white chocolate but I could not tell you that from the taste at all. It’s deliciously mango-like, deliciously creamy white chocolate that, while lacking the full body of real vanilla, is certainly pleasantly heavy on the core elements.
Its initial kick is mild – A one point five at most – but that’s the creamy consistency of melt in the mouth white chocolate holding it back. Once the scotch bonnet has been fully released, it ramps right up to a
without mercy. It is, in fact, the hotter of the two.
The milk chocolate from the pair is quicker to hit but only reaches a high
that suggests it has a little less chilli in it.
Flavour-wise, though, the pepper does about the same. Only, rather than supporting bold tropical undertones with its savoury fruitiness, it’s now working with a very upfront and earthy, nearly smoky, dry-roasted coffee bean taste. One which also goes great with the richer, darker flavour of the milk chocolate but might have been too bitter, were it placed into dark.
I’m more of a tea drinker than a coffee lover, so I prefer the white, but both of these chocolates are absolutely incredible. Both very different to, yet also on par with, the Grim Reaper and Doctor Burnorium ones that I love.
Heck, I might even take this white over Russel’s next february!
Right now, though, much as I’ve loved and adored this amazing collaboration between sauce and chocolate makers, I do have a third item to talk about. A bottle of limited edition “Mon-Key Lime”, made exclusively by the Screaming Chimp.
One with an all-green label that trades their signature parchment look for a distinct appearance that reflects the fruit inside. The key lime on which its name plays.
Right off the bat, they’re telling us what to expect from this one, while keeping their primate branding in tact, and I love it. But there’s something the label doesn’t tell us. Something that we’re going to have to look at the ingredients for:
Chocolate Habanero 33%, Lime Juice 24%, Onion, Demerara Sugar, Water, Vinegar, Garlic
The first ingredient is a chilli. Not a blend of chillies, like in the company’s other sauces, but one single chilli variety. The chocolate habanero.
It’s a brown habanero variant, sold on its rich, savoury, earthy flavour, almost as much as it is on its higher heat. And that makes very little sense here. Why pair such a thing with citrus?
I had no idea what I was getting into with this sauce but one taste and I knew exactly what they’d done: They’d outsmarted me.
As I sipped timidly from my spoon, knowing full well the stinging burn that the pepper was capable of, the lime hit me as unusually floral and my past experience with the chilli came rushing back.
I was not a fan of chocolate habs. The last time that I had them in a sauce was an all round unpleasant experience, dominated by searing heat and a floral, bitter element that ruined any flavour that I may have otherwise enjoyed.
Here, though, that bitterness was tempered by onions and brown sugar and the floral nature of the pepper was what made it work. Because the second ingredient, that prized, floridian strain of lime, was also floral. The lime with the zestiest juice I know, unless you count the half-kumquat hybrid used in the philippines.
That’s right, the Screaming Chimp took everything that ruined this pepper for me and made it a key, positive feature! I was blown away and not, this time, just by its heat.
No, this pepper still kicked like a truck full of mules at
but the small quantity in which I took it kept its stinging, painful, extra strong habanero heat in check. And, while its pepper does have a particularly savage burn style, it’s actually not quite as hot as the blend of supers in 📽️ their Screamer 📽️. Even after accounting for the content difference.
Plus, it adds more than just fire and additional floral overtones. It gives a rich, savoury, fruity body, almost tomato-like in some respects, which, with support from the demerara sugar, becomes almost raisin-like at the end, as well.
I can’t say I’ve had anything like this sauce before, even if its fruity body is vaguely reminiscent of the company’s other concoctions, but I can definitely tell you where I’d use it:
With strong flavoured fish like tuna or salmon. Over beef tacos or enchiladas. Stirred through a bold-flavoured indian curry. In a con carne or dark, raisin-heavy spiced rice. Perhaps on kedgeree but definitely, sacrilege as it may be, drizzled over quality steak.
This is one for with rich, often dark and meaty, dishes that will handle something equally bold and oh so zesty. It’s not an all-purpose sauce but it’s one that I’m definitely going to get through and a side to the company that I never thought I’d see.
My new second favourite of theirs, right behind their mild Vic’s ol’ Smokey, and the third and final chocolate-themed flavour in this white day Chimp special.
Have a happy holiday come thursday, everyone, whether you celebrate white day or not.