Chocolate is my ultimate comfort treat. Although milk chocolate will forever and always be ranked at #1 in my books, I’ve given 70% dark chocolate a chance over the past few months. As dark chocolate and I have now become friends, I’m enjoying my newfound appreciation of dark chocolate by tasting what I believe is a less intense version: 62% dark chocolate.
I absolutely love chocolate by Whittaker’s, one of New Zealand’s most well-loved chocolate brands. What makes this particular block of chocolate extraordinary is it features special appearances by caramel, sea salt (from the region of Marlborough in New Zealand’s South Island) and saffron. This piqued my interest. I’ve never heard of saffron in chocolate before, although saffron is used in some desserts to add color and spice them with its fragrant flavor.
Saffron is one of the most prettiest spices in the world (the flowers are gorgeous too), and it’s exquisite and luxurious. I simply couldn’t imagine missing the chance to taste this one-of-a-kind chocolate, and in it went into my shopping basket instantly. Plus, a collaboration between my two old friends, caramel and chocolate? Yes, please!
In the beautiful blue, white and gold box was a block of chocolate wrapped in golden foil (hello, Willy Wonka). The chocolate squares spot a, well, spotty look that appears to originate from caramel brittle – I reckon it’s due to tropical heat here in the Lion City, as it’s been sitting in my stash of goodies for a while. The chocolate’s appearance should be a smooth dark chocolate with two motifs: a cacao fruit and Whittaker’s logo. These motifs are prominent in my chocolate squares, albeit dotted by melted brittle.
Caramel brittle in this chocolate isn’t any ordinary crunchy sweet caramel, it’s a saffron-infused sea salt and caramel brittle! This has got to be one of the most interesting caramel flavors on the blog so far. The yellowish, almost manuka honey-colored element shines with crunchiness.
Caramel brings a sweet toffee-esque taste. The sweetness level is perfect as it balances the saffron-sea salt’s flavor in the brittle, hence resulting in a twist in the classic salted caramel. To my palate, caramel comes through more, followed by saffron-sea salt. At one point, I detected a light and gentle floral-ish note (I’m still trying to put my finger on what it is exactly) when I was a few bites deep, which is possibly from saffron.
It’s tricky to pinpoint saffron’s exact flavor. Some people claim that saffron reminds them of earthy flavors (and mushrooms), while others detect sweet or floral notes. The experience depends on your taste buds, really. It appears that saffron and caramel are a great match – they’re both in the yellow-colored range (saffron turns food into a lovely warm hue) and their flavors match each other.
Sea salt from Marlborough is featured in this chocolate. Located in the northern part of the South Island, this quaint region is home to beautiful coasts, vineyards and lush greenery. Anyone who wants to connect with nature and savor some of New Zealand’s finest produce would love it here. The nation’s capital, Wellington, is around 4 1/2 hours away. The journey, which involves hopping from the South Island to the North Island, comprises of both driving and boarding a ferry that travels across the Cook Strait. Christchurch is a 5-hour drive away, and the journey’s within the South Island.
The chocolate itself has a bitter taste – in a good way, that is. Cocoa’s presence is strong, and it’s more than just a canvas for other elements to shine. Dark chocolate adds another distinctive layer of flavor while elevating sea salt, saffron and caramel cohesively. As always, dark chocolate is meant to be consumed in small portions as it’s rich in flavors.
My hobby of tasting chocolates from around the world brings me great joy as it’s a pleasure to explore different regions while appreciating flavors. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to experience this chocolate’s flavors. It makes me want to visit New Zealand to soak in the sights and enjoy all the food! My luggage will be filled with a stash of chocolate to bring home.
Craving for more New Zealand chocolate? Here’s another Whittaker’s post from February this year!