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Friday, 27 May 2016

Life is Like A Box of Chocolates - The Chocolate Mill MK review

At the end of last year I came across The Chocolate Mill MK - a company hand making beautiful chocolate truffles right here in Crownhill in Milton Keynes. It all looked very impressive, professional and tempting. So, when I was asked to put together a local food and drink hamper for LoveMK Day in April, I contacted Steve Mills, the man behind The Chocolate Mill, and asked if he would be happy to donate some chocolates for the hamper. He said yes and a few days later I had a couple of beautiful boxes of chocolates in my hand.

What many people don't know is that in my other life I run a personalised and customised sticker business. This came about from figuring out how to print on labels for my jams. This was way back in the days when my girls were babies and I found myself using my new found skills to create reward stickers for them. And from there a whole other business blossomed, with stickers for every possible special occasion, rewards, teachers, businesses and charities.

Anyway, having looked at Steve's little boxes of chocs I couldn't help wondering if I could help him tweak his labels a little to give them a more professional look that also ticked all the trading standard boxes. Steve was happy to hear my suggestions and a few weeks later I found myself printing labels for his chocolates.

I feel Steve is a man after my own heart who likes to experiment in the kitchen and is forever trying out new flavours. Indeed, he recently ran a competition to ask people to come up with some new flavours. From this Jolly Roger's Key Lime Truffles were born. His partner Cameron has also made a suggestion that led to the creation of Cameron's Cookie Dough Truffles, and even Steve's mum has inspired the new Linda's Peppermint Truffles. Indeed, having spent a couple of hours creating labels for the business, I can say that currently Steve offers 16 different truffle flavours ranging from the original Milk Chocolate Truffle, through some inspired by cocktails to others utilising the zing of citrus fruit. I suspect more will be added to his range in the future.

It is very hard to input tasty sounding chocolate flavour combinations into a computer and not find yourself craving chocolate so I was pleased when Steve said he would bring me over a selection of his chocolates when he came to collect his labels to thank me for my efforts. So once again I found myself in possession of two beautiful little boxes of chocolates. This time I didn't have to virtuously abstain but instead I could fully indulge. Ironically these selection boxes were unlabeled so I didn't know for sure which chocolates I had. A bit of a Forrest Gump moment... except, of course, I was by this point fully familiar with the descriptions and ingredients for each one so I could work out which was which.

It's funny how popular you become when holding a box of chocolates and I suddenly found the rest of the family wanting to share the sofa with me. To be honest I didn't really want to share but it is the way of the world that a mother will always share so I got a chopping board and a sharp knife and ate chocolates in a way I have eaten them before; slicing each one into pieces and then paying proper attention to each mouthful. With my willing assistants on hand, I felt like we were judges on GBBO Creme de la Creme or something!

The first bite of any food is with the eyes and I do find Steve's chocolate really beautiful and tempting to look at. Where often a box of chocolates is an assortment of brown tones, these have bright shades of yellow, green and red and accents of edible glitter. The outside is a shell of properly tempered chocolate the gives way to the knife or teeth with a satisfying snap and inside the filling is soft and smooth. As for the flavours, these were a surprising mixed bag. There were a couple I wasn't keen on but then again I don't think I have ever eaten from a selection box of chocolates and liked every flavour. Then there were others that I could easily have eaten more of and others I loved. From the selection I tried I was surprised to find that I particularly liked the White Chocolate and Lemon Truffles, Linda's Peppermint Truffles and the Lime Cream Truffles. My daughters' favourites were the White Chocolate and Raspberry Truffles and Cameron's Cookie Dough Truffles. There are a few other flavours on his list that weren't in the boxes so I will be keen to try some of those the next time I see him. He's booked in for a table at the Artisan Food Fair at Galleon Wharf on 12th June and as I have a table there too this seems like a good opportunity to taste some more. If you get a chance, I suggest you come along and see which flavours take your fancy too... you never know what you're going to get!

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