Hey folks, today’s going to be a bit of a weird one.
You see, I’m celebrating international chocolate day, for the very last time, but it’s also the end of national curry week. The same bizarre blend of food holidays that we saw in twenty eighteen but, this time around, it falls on a tuesday.
That said, though, I still think I’ve got some pretty exciting products to share with you today:
Fire Foods’ Tandoori Butter and The Chilli Alchemist’s Dark Matter chocolate.
One’s a blend of indian spices with a peanut butter base and the other’s a seventy percent dark chocolate with mint and popping candy, in tribute to the Alchemist’s Melliculus range. The first thing to come from the brand since Russell, of Grim Reaper Foods, took over.
Though it’s taken me a little while to get to it, because I wanted to hold off on writing about this one until its second batch.
I’ll explain why that is and why I won’t be celebrating international chocolate day again in my main post but first, I want to quickly mention the one thing that links today’s two products: Their use of ghost pepper.
Probably not a tonne of it, judging by everything else that I’ve had from Fire Foods and the Grim Reaper. Just enough to provide a pleasant, medium warmth and maybe some of that delicious, full-bodied, red chilli flavour.
Let’s have a closer look, shall we?
Starting with Fire Foods, their black and yellow jar is as impactful as ever, using nature’s favourite warning colours, but there’s no visible indication of what sets this particular product apart. The only art is, once again, their flaming sun logo, with their name and chillies across it.
It gives us absolutely nothing to go on and doesn’t even use the ghosts that go into today’s spread.
Whereas the Dark Matter may be just as heavy-handed with its branding, featuring three different Chilli Alchemist logos on the front, but it also says “dark” with its black background, features a golden representation of the popping candy crystals inside and even adorns that magical gem with the leaves and flowers of its mint.
The snake that also coils around that crystal requires rather more in the way of interpretation but even it could be seen as a reference to the mythical snake people known as “nagas” – A veiled hint at the chilli within. Or perhaps it’s just there to add to the air of mystique or imply that alchemy is a forbidden knowledge. I’m not really sure but, whatever the case, this packaging does everything that it needs to and more, providing us with all the necessary information and plenty of personality, to boot.
In terms of packaging, the Chilli Alchemist clearly comes out on top, despite this post not being a competition, but it’s the taste that matters. And, if you just bite into their chocolate and chew, you’re going to be disappointed.
You can feel the texture of the popping candy and get a slight hint of the mint oil but, to properly appreciate the Dark Matter, you need to break it up only a tiny bit and then let it do the rest by melting.
That way, the cocoa butter and oils can spread across your tongue and expose the candy crystals to your saliva, setting off their fizz properly. And the mint can reach and cool every part of your mouth. Plus, you just get a better taste of that great quality, high cocoa chocolate.
I’m not normally a patient eater but, for this bar, you have to be. And it really does make it worth your while, with its wide array of cold, spicy, smooth and tingly sensations, which all come together to make it dream on the tongue but a nightmare on my rating system.
I’m thinking a low
since I barely feel the lingering tingle from its naga chilli, but a good part of why is the stronger
of the mint. So I’m not sure that I know what to call it, over all.
I’d like to feel that naga just a touch more, personally, but I’m glad that Russell has fixed things, for this second batch, because I wasn’t getting any heat from the first. And I really did want to feel the sensory confusion that its mix of hot and cold creates.
I wouldn’t change its ingredients for the world but I do think that their balance is just a touch off. Here’s the current list:
Dark Chocolate (Cocoa mass 70%, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier – soya lecithin, natural vanilla), Popping Candy (sugar, glucose syrup (maize), lactose (MILK), carbon dioxide) (2%), Naga Chilli Powder (0.1%), Essential oil of Mint.
And, while I do love the sophisticated blend of so many different sensations coming from it, I’m still glad that Fire Food’s product is a good deal easier to understand. At least once it’s on my spoon and in my mouth.
In fact, it’s exactly what its ingredients list says:
PEANUTS, Tandoori Spice Seasoning
Just two things, slapped together in a way that makes for serious flavour. And serious thickness.
Fire Foods’ peanut butter is an unyielding, dry paste that refuses to go anywhere, even with my spoon inverted. It is largely smooth, yet fine grains of not-quite-puréed nut provide it with plenty of texture, while the real taste is in its fatty base.
Because what makes this a dry peanut butter is the large amount of spice – Both chilli and otherwise – blended with the oils from the nuts. Spice that those oils carry oh so well, giving you a huge hit of indian flavour and a low
in the throat. Which grows in exactly like a good ghost should, despite never reaching the pepper’s full strength.
If you enjoy peanut butter on toast, this is going to be great for you but, for PB & J lovers, this isn’t going to go with fruit jams. It’s far better suited to pairing with the savoury pepper sorts, like The Chilli Jam Man’s, A Bit of a Pickle’s or The Jam Horse’s. Either in a sandwich or topping off a burger.
And, unlike most peanut butters, I’d recommend trying it as a chicken marinade or adding coconut milk, to make something half way between an indian and thai-style curry.
Probably the best use for this, though, is in britain’s own most famous curry creation: The chicken tikka masala. A dish based on indian spices and english tomato soup.
If you take that soup and thicken it with today’s Fire Foods product, you’re going to have an incredibly rich and well-spiced dish that’s just begging for some bird to round it out. So that’s my suggestion for making the most of this one.
In the end, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both of today’s treats, despite batch two of the Dark Matter not quite living up to my heat expectations. It delivered in every other regard and I’m very glad that I got to feature it in this weird combo review.
I’m really going to miss how national curry week and international chocolate day line up but, unfortunately, that chocolate day has a history that I just can’t support.
It is not a celebration of chocolate, so much as a celebration of Milton S. Hershey’s birthday and, while that man and his business were integral to chocolate taking off in the states, any brit who’s tried his products will know that they are an abomination. Chocolate made with intentionally spoiled milk and, as a result, containing various compounds also found in vomit.
Few people who haven’t grown up with Hershey’s chocolate can stand it and it was only ever made the way that it was because the refrigeration techniques of his time weren’t up to scratch.
It’s a relic and not one that a good, british product, like today’s Dark Matter, should ever be associated with. So, from now on, I will only be celebrating the superior world chocolate day, on the seventh of july.
National curry week will, henceforth, only be about the curry.
So, until next time, go give Fire Foods and the Chilli Alchemist’s handiwork a try, stay away from Hershey’s chocolate and do have a look at the page for today’s ghost pepper, if you’re still wanting more.
See you then, everyone.