Happy international chocolate day again, everyone! I know I said that last year was my last time celebrating it, because of my disdain for what Milton Hershey did to chocolate, but I just so happened to come in to some very exciting bars this week. And I couldn’t just leave the Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s latest ’til later, now could I?
These are their brand new chilli chocolate line and they range from a medium chipotle and orange milk to the extreme, extra dark naga. With a habanero and lime flavoured regular dark in the middle.
All three sound and look fantastic, wrapped in a mix of black and Wiltshire’s signature action lines. But will their taste and texture live up to that first impression?
There’s only one way to tell.
Starting off with the extra dark Naga Chilli version, we see Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s logo surrounded by red lines, to match the name and the pepper. Fading as they radiate out into the black background and looking like some kind of holy wings or illuminated church window. All while monotone grey chillies, leaves and cocoa pods fall onto the logo from above.
Everything is there – The company, the chilli and the chocolate – and it is stunning to look at. Yet the bar, inside, looks relatively normal:
Dark, yes. Chunky, yes. But nothing that says “Wiltshire Chilli Farm” or even hints at it being flavoured in any way.
So I break off a chunk and the snap is audible, yet somewhat underwhelming. Not as firm as I might have hoped and far faster to melt, too, judging by the mess on my hands.
Which means that, while the initial flavour is dark and creamy, with a delicate sweetness and subtle red fruit undertones, reminiscent of what I get from good quality madagascan cocoa, it doesn’t last particularly long before the deep, red, slightly dry and bitter chilli flavour of the naga comes through, along with its high
to disrupt that delicate balance.
I’m not impressed.
They’ve used great quality cocoa to make their chocolate, don’t get me wrong, and it’s remarkably palatable for a seventy-two percent dark. But something in the company’s process is resulting in a consistency which doesn’t quite meet my high standards for chilli chocolate and the actual chilli that they’ve used is at odds with their blend of cocoa.
This bar is going to be amazing to cook with, in something like a con carne or one of my chocolate curry recipes, but using a smaller amount of a hotter, fruitier chilli, like a red 7-Pot or carolina reaper, would have resulted in a far more enjoyable bar to eat, as is.
Then the Habanero Lime doesn’t look much different, from the outside, but its acidic, yellow-green text sure does sell the added fruit oil. At, perhaps, the expense of the chilli. Which is largely replaced by the fruit in the grey imagery above, as well.
Upon opening it up, however, the bar inside is visibly lighter:
And, from the moment I break through its plastic seal, the essence of slightly cocoa-tinged lime zest fills my nostrils. It is intense! And it only gets more so as I break off my first chunk.
The snap is firmer, albeit only slightly, and I’m left with less of the chocolate on my hands. Yet, when I bite in, the lime oil still hits me pretty quickly.
It’s not what you might think, however, since the extreme volatility which led to its powerful aroma also causes some of it to evaporate off and cool my tongue in an almost mint-like fashion, before I truly taste the citrus. And the strength of that citrus, when it does come through, masks the fruity taste of the habanero almost entirely. All the remains is a powerful
heat in the back of my throat and a spikey tingle at the tip of my tongue, once the initial cool has gone.
Of course, that also means that there’s no dried chilli bitterness to detract from the sweetness of this less dark bar. And, while the chocolate, itself, is lacking in fruitiness, this time, the lime more than makes up for it, while the cocoa just does its thing underneath.
Wiltshire have definitely been a little heavy handed with the lime, this time, but I don’t hate what they’ve created and it isn’t at odds with itself, like the Naga was.
In fact, it’s a pretty enjoyable bar. Though not nearly as much so as today’s third and final feature:
This Chipotle & Orange milk chocolate doesn’t do a tonne to mix up the packaging, either, but its orange, chilli and cocoa are all easily visible in the art, this time, with text coloured to match the fruit. I feel like the smoke could be a tad clearer but the rest is all very much on display.
As, when I open the box, is the milk.
This last bar is a good deal lighter than either of the others, really highlighting the abundant black flecks of its smoke-darkened chilli. It’s obvious that the WCF have gone as heavy on this one’s pepper as they did the lime in the last but perhaps we’ll see a little less of the fruit oil, this time around. Since, after all, I don’t smell much orange.
There’s a light tang, on the nose, once the chocolate is broken, but the aroma, as a whole. is pretty minimal. And the snap is just as weak.
In a milk chocolate, however, I don’t mind a weak snap. A quick-melting bar compliments the extra creaminess of the dairy and gives it a really smooth mouth-feel. Even if it does loose that initial bite.
And you’d think that all of those chilli pieces would upset that smooth texture but no. The rich, creamy cocoa still satisfies, despite the slight graininess, before the flavour of those fragments comes through and it transitions to an equally smooth, savoury smokiness.
Both that and the surprisingly strong
throat burn highlight just how much of the pepper has gone into Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Chipotle & Orange bar and how they’re not afraid to mix the two, seemingly opposite elements of sweet and smoke, in the slightest.
I’ve had chilli chocolate, smoked chocolate and even smoked chilli chocolate before. Yet never anything as intense, yet fantastically well balanced as this. To the point where the orange almost feels like an after thought, even if it does pair well with both sides.
I’m just too focussed on that amazing pairing of chipotle and chocolate.
Here’s what goes into this chipotle and orange bar:
Cocoa Solids 35% minimum. Milk Solids 22% Minimum.
Milk Chocolate 95% (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier: soya lecethin, natural vanilla flavour), Chipotle chilli powder 2.5%, natural orange oil 1%.
Into the Habanero Lime:
Cocoa Solids 55% minimum.
Dark Chocolate 98.5% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavour), natural lime oil 1%, chilli powder <1%.
And into the Naga Chilli version:
Cocoa Solids 72% minimum.
Dark Chocolate 99% (cocoa mass, sugar, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavour), Naga chilli powder 1%.
But, while I wouldn’t say “no” to any of these, the Chipotle & Orange outshines the other two, by far. It’s that one that I’ve ordered more of and not either of the others.