Chocolate has been a treasured treat since the Mayans discovered it in Mexico thousands of years ago. And today’s artisan chocolatiers are constantly evolving with exciting new flavours being created every week, for every season, around the world. And Angela Cockerton, the creative force behind East Lothian’s The Chocolate Stag, is no exception with the launch of her latest collection – Classic Cocktails.
In recent years the UK has seen a dramatic rise in the number of chocolatiers producing traditional and more innovative artisan chocolate than ever before. In 2018 East Lothian’s David and Angela Cockerton joined this renaissance, launching their handmade chocolate business – The Chocolate Stag.
Artisanal makers get to know their materials well – in this case, cocoa and sugar – shaping them carefully from bean to finished product. The result is lovingly crafted chocolate that showcases cocoa’s natural flavour range and the gorgeous range of handmade chocolates from The Chocolate Stag is no exception. Made by hand by Angela at Garleton Lodge an award-winning, small luxury hotel, all the ingredients are fresh, often locally sourced and contain absolutely no preservatives. Angela says; “Our main ingredient is natural, full flavour cocoa with minimal sugar, no added artificial flavours and no added fat. These high quality ingredients are hand-crafted to create chocolates with optimum flavour and texture. In comparison, mass-produced chocolate uses much lower quantities of cocoa with added fats, flavours and other additives. Both types of chocolate can be enjoyed in their own right but should not be compared, in the same way that blended whisky should not be compared with single malt whisky.”
Angela’s skill lies in creating a range of truly unique and creative flavour pairings which she has taken to the next level with a match made in heaven – the partnership of premium spirits and mellow chocolate. The latest range from The Chocolate Stag is a collection of popular cocktail-inspired chocolates. Angela explains “I’ve always known that chocolate and alcohol is a great pairing, and I’ve been working on creating the smoothest truffle filling I could, pairing each cocktail base with a chocolate percentage that truly complemented and never masked the flavours of the top-shelf tipple.”
The partnership of alcohol and chocolate is a delectable treat suitable for many occasions – whether it’s a romantic gift or a dinner party treat, alcoholic chocolates are a winning combination. They give you all the nuanced flavour of your favourite drink, without having to worry about not being able to drive home! Diffords Guide to Cocktails offers over 3,000 cocktail recipes, and with so many to choose from how did David and Angela narrow it down? Purely in the name of research, there were many eager participants happy to step up to the challenge, and a group of local customers formed a tasting panel to help narrow down the selection to the final list of cocktails.
The result, six mouth-watering chocolates which are not only a feast for the eyes but don’t disappoint when you get to the tasting. As one happy taster said “They look too good to eat – they are art!” Those making it to the final collection are: Porn Star Martini, a white chocolate shell filled with vodka, Cointreau, lime and passion fruit puree; Strawberry Daiquiri, a milk chocolate shell filled with rum, Cointreau, lime and strawberry puree ganache. “The perfect balance of strawberry and chocolate, absolutely dreamy!” said a member of the tasting panel. Cosmopolitan is a milk chocolate shell filled with vodka, Cointreau, cranberry and lime ganache, while everyone’s favourite the Mojito is a white chocolate shell filled with rum, lime and mint ganache. “Just love the white chocolate with the sweet mint and lime, it’s amazing!” For dark chocolate aficionados there are two offerings: the Negroni, a dark chocolate shell filled with gin, Aperol and vermouth dark chocolate ganache; and Espresso Martini made from a dark chocolate shell filled with rich, dark roast coffee, Tia Maria and vodka dark chocolate ganache. The Pina Colada and a Baileys Cream, narrowly missed the list, so will be added to The Chocolate Stag’s classic range.
Chocolate used to be an ingredient in desserts, but now desserts have become an ‘ingredient’ in chocolate. From crumble to tiramisu, desserts are becoming flavours. And Angela is embracing this trend with a further dessert-inspired collection of chocolates, launching in September, to include; Apple Crumble, Cherry Bakewell, Strawberry Pavlova, Banana Cheesecake, Lemon Posset and Tiramisu. Available online and from selected local stockists, the new collections perfectly complement the current classic range of 16 varieties of assorted individual handmade chocolates and include everyone’s favourites using white, milk and dark chocolate. Perfect for a gift or just that moment in life when you really need a tipple (of chocolate).