It’s hard to know, in this weather, what to tell you about. There are the odd days of inclement weather during which I’m keen to impart knowledge about lovely hot chocolates I’ve discovered. But that will have to wait because I’m writing in a heat wave, with an old baby-muslin on my desk to mop my brow (I am a feverish writer) and having to test chocolate by cutting it on a board and using chop sticks to get it to my mouth. My fingertips, my infrared thermometer tells me, are at 33C.
Luckily – the foresight! – my study is the coolest place in the house with concrete floors to keep the chocolate at below 27C, out of the calamity zone.
The bar that’s brought me most joy this week has been Menakao’s’s Madagascan Vanilla (£3.95/65g, cocoarunners.com). It’s a 45% milk chocolate, super buttery and creamy, that knocked me sideways. Part of the reason it’s so joyous is that the milk has been caramelised, which makes it taste sweeter. This is something to look for in chocolate because you can get the sweet without more sugar – if you had two bars of similar sugar content, but one has had the milk or sugar caramelised, that one tastes sweeter. Then there’s Madagascan vanilla, which doesn’t taste sweet on its own, but mingling among other ingredients brings a certain dolcissimo. Like a good guest that brings the best out in everyone.
Hotel Chocolat also does a caramelised milk: Colombian 53% (£7.50/70g, hotelchocolat.com). It’s not currently available due to Covid-19, but hopefully, it will be back soon.