Those who live in London will know that yesterday was not the warmest spring day in the history of spring (*cough* real feel minus eight *cough*). But if there was ever going to be a reason to get out your big coat, snood, hat gloves, balaclava, thermals… and brave the freeze The Chocolate Festival was definitely it. Set out behind the Southbank Centre within sight of the Thames, this three day celebration of all things chocolate featured a dizzying array of treats to sample, from fudge to beer and even mole flavoured chilli (mole being the chocolate based sauce, not the small furry animal).
For those who were feeling rich and creative, there was a Chocolate Cookery Theatre available offering paid workshops, tastings, cookery demonstrations and even high tea.
Jen and I decided to focus on snuffling out free samples and gawking at the incredible artistry on display.
Our first encounter was with the Purbeck Ice Cream stand, unsurprisingly deserted considering the weather but offering delicious samples of chocolate orange and chocolate brownie ice-cream. Heaven.
We were immediately drawn to the Crumbs and Doilies stand, offering all manner of gorgeous cupcakes. Although we had claimed we weren’t going to buy anything, we quickly cracked. Here I am about to inhale a salted caramel mudslide mini cupcake… and yes, it was every bit as delicious as it sounds, if not better.
The exhibitors at The Chocolate Festival certainly take their chocolate seriously and there were several more unusual flavours and textures available, including a fascinating cocoa nib and salt combo from Pacari, straight from Ecaudor.
For those who are keen to do some of their own more unusual baking, Cocoa Pod was selling a variety of flavours of chocolate drops to jazz up your cookies and cakes along with their personalised treats. I am still slightly embarrassed that I incorrectly identified the mystery flavour as lime rather than lemon. Greg and John would not be impressed.
Creating both beautiful and delicious handmade chocolates in London is the impressive Kokopelli’s, fronted by chocolatier, Steph Saffer. I was particularly enamoured with the shiny blue ones (that’s a technical term).
It wasn’t just about flavour though and we couldn’t help but be amazed at the incredibly beautiful things that some of the chocolate “artists” exhibiting had created. My favourite has to be the leopard and orange eggs from The Cocoa Mistress – totes amaze, babes!
My biggest surprise of the day was coming across Amisqi, selling homemade alfajores, a type of Latin American biscuit sandwiched together with dulche leche. Dulche leche is very present in South African cooking and the alfajores tasted just like the caramel tartlets I grew up with so I ended up having a long chat to the stallholder. Might just email him my recipe for peppermint crisp tart.
The only bum note of the day came when we succumbed to the cold and bought hot chocolate from Jaz and Jules. My caramel and lime combo was weird at best and Jen’s ginger flavoured one didn’t hit the mark either, with both being a bit tasteless. Maybe we were spoiled by Hungarian hot chocolate in Budapest.
You can check out a full list of exhibitors here.