Strangely enough, here at The Madhouse, I'm never short of willing testers when it comes to trying out new brands of chocolate ! Therefore, there was a great deal of excitement when the postman dropped off some interesting-looking bars of chocolate from The Organic Seed & Bean Company for us to try out.
Handmade in the UK using only organic or Fairtrade ingredients, The Organic Seed & Bean Company’s range of bars and snacks was awarded a perfect 100% Ethical Company Index score - an accolade given to less than 2% of UK companies by The Good Shopping Guide in its 10th edition. I was actually surprised to learn that they are the only chocolate company in the UK to be given this standing.
Stephen Rudkin, founder of the Organic Seed & Bean Company comments: “Since we launched in 2005, our focus has always been on environmental issues and we are proud to be the only chocolate company in the UK to source all our ingredients with such a stringent list of criteria. We have to balance taste, which has to be outstanding, with our own moral code. The two work hand in hand for us and this ethical position is at the very core of our business. We want our customers to know that they can enjoy our exquisite range of chocolate bars knowing that we have sourced organic, Fairtrade ingredients with impeccable credentials. This accolade, along with a number of Great Taste Awards won shows that this can be achieved. We pride ourselves on the effort that goes into sourcing our ingredients. We have a close partnership with cocoa growers from Ecuador, the Dominican and Sao Tome, and this long term commitment ensures that we know how the soil, seeds and beans are nurtured, giving a much higher quality cacao and what the farmers need to make a better living”, finished Steve.
Well, it all sounds great on paper but would it live up to our high expectiations in a taste test ? We received three bars to try out. First up was Lemon & Poppy Seeds Creamy White Chocolate. We all loved the creaminess of the chocolate and the natural lemon flavour that comes through from the Italian organic lemon oil. The poppy seeds don't really seem to add much to the flavour as you eat the chocolate but they do add some interesting texture when they stay in your mouth when the chocolate has melted. I'm not surprised to see that this variety won a One Star Gold Award at the 2011 Great Taste Awards.
Next up was the Raspberry Rich Milk Chocolate, which also got a resounding thumbs up. The chocolate contains 37% cocoa and has a very smooth taste with a delicate hint of raspberry coming through as it melts on your tongue.When the chocolate has melted, you're left with crispy, tangy raspberry fragments on your tongue which complement the smooth sweet chocolate perfectly. Each bar contains an amazing 20+ organic raspberries, which is very impressive. I wonder if you could eat a whole bar and call it one of your 5-a-day ?!
And finally, we tried the Lemon and Cardamom Extra Dark Chocolate, containing 58% cocoa. Now, we only recently discovered the taste of fresh cardamom when we tried out the Provamel recipe for Eton Mess (here) and the citrussy flavour with a slight hint of curry adds an interesting flavour to the dark chocolate. This was our least favourite bar of the three but we're bigger fans of milk and white chocolate to dark chocolate, which surely explains that.
The Organic Seed & Bean Company also picked up a One Star Gold Award for its Organic Fairtrade Chilli and Lime chocolate bar so that is definitely worth sampling too.
Star rating : 4/5
RRP : £2.35 for an 85g bar (which is the size we sampled), 200g Gift Bars for £7.49.
The full range of Organic Seed & Bean chocolate bars is available from Holland and Barrett, leading health food stores across the UK and from November online at http://www.seedandbean.co.uk/
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