I was invited to a chocolate tasting by Lindt being held at Pearl in Holborn. Jun Tanaka, head chef at Pearl, had recently developed recipes using latest range of Lindt Excellence flavours: chilli, wasabi and sea salt. I like Lindt chocolate and it’s a brand I buy often at home (usually the 85% bar) but I had looked sceptically at some of these new flavours on offer, particularly the wasabi.
To my surprise, I loved the wasabi flavour – its characteristic flavour and burn coming through slowly when you bite into the dark bar. I didn’t think much of the chilli chocolate (not much heat and I couldn’t discern any chilli flavour) but I adored the sea salt bar that was quite easy to put away.
But we were there for the dishes too. No, not the two dishes below but the four dishes, two savoury and two sweet, created. Working alongside Chef Tanaka was Stefan Bruderer, one of Lindt’s Master Chocolatiers, and he was also on hand that night to answer our many questions about being a Lindt master chocolatier (apart from the creation of new flavours there’s a lot of admin).
We first sampled a Cured Salmon with Pickled Chilli and Wasabi Mayonnaise. No chocolate here but it featured all the flavours in the new bars.
We closely guarded our Braised Chilli Chocolate Beef Cheek with Celeriac Mash and Glazed Beetroot after our first tastes and eyed up the portions of those around us. “Are you gonna finish that?”, we hissed at those who ate slowly. The beef cheek had been braised to tenderness and the glossy sauce was a reduction of the braising liquid and plenty of Lindt’s chilli chocolate. I didn’t even mind the glazed beetroot and thought the wilted wild garlic was a nice addition too.
Unsurprisingly, the wasabi chocolate proved to be the most difficult to use in a recipe. Jun Tanaka did well then to turn to the cuisine where wasabi features most – Japanese – and created a Wasabi Chocolate Maki Roll. This sweet rice roll was wrapped around pineapple and a chocolate ganache and served with pickled ginger and melted wasabi chocolate. We were instructed to eat it in one go, piling the ginger on top of the maki and dipping the whole thing in the melted chocolate. With cheeks bulging, we savoured the combination of creamy chocolate, sweet pineapple and hot wasabi and ginger.
We ended with – surprise, surprise – more chocolate. The Dark Sea Salt Chocolate Moelleux with Cherry and Yogurt Sorbet was absolutely gorgeous with the moelleux’s melting centre and the fresh (and out of season and overpriced) cherries and sorbet. I’m not sure it even needed the extra chocolate sauce on top.
It is possible to recreate the recipes developed by Jun Tanaka as they all can be found on the Lindt website – I definitely hope to recreate the beef cheeks and in the meantime, I found myself putting in more dark chocolate than usual into my chili con carne over the weekend. I’m a bit chocolated out now though!
Thank you very much to Lindt and Burson-Marsteller for the invitation.