Think white chocolate is an underwhelming substitute for the real thing? Meet Willies Cacao White Chocolate Raspberries and Cream, the elegant combination of juicy raspberries, British cream and Venezuelan cocoa butter that will have you head over heels.
When Willie Harcourt-Cooze was a child, spring and summer revolved around plucking jewel-like wild raspberries on the remote Irish island where he grew up.
“We were forever collecting raspberries and making jams and coulis,” he says. “In my childhood, there were no additives – everything, very simply, was what it was.”
That’s an ethos that Willie has carried into his adulthood obsession with chocolate. After discovering the glory of top-quality cacao beans in Venezuela, he’s spent his life mastering the art of making truly spectacular artisan chocolate – using only the best cacao beans and never adding vanilla or soya lecithin, which both alter the taste of the chocolate.
The Willie’s Cacao Raspberries & Cream bar in your April Gin of the Month box is a testament to the difference a skilled hand and commitment to cacao can make in the finished product. “A lot of people say that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate,” Willie says, “but 50 per cent of the cacao bean is the cacao butter used in white chocolate.
Almost everyone else in the industry is using odourless cocoa butter because their beans aren’t top quality, so they need to remove unwanted tastes and smells.”
The bar in your April Gin of the Month couldn’t be more different from bog-standard white chocolate. It has significantly less sugar than most white chocolates, and Willie doesn’t use vanilla flavouring, because he doesn’t need to; rather, he relies on the warmth of raw cane sugar from Barbados, the richness of the best British milk and the tartness of freeze-dried raspberries. And, of course, the finest Venezuelan cocoa butter.
“Cocoa butter is full of aromatic flavours,” Willie enthuses. “We buy all-natural butter directly from Venezuela, and it brings a lot of flavour to the table, which is important because we don’t use vanilla. We’re not making a vanilla bar!”
Far from it, in fact – the luscious raspberries, freeze dried right off the bush without any added flavours or additives, both enhance and are enhanced by the rich creaminess of Willie’s cocoa butter. This perfect combination of flavours is down to one unexpected characteristic of white chocolate: like truffles, Willie says, this type of chocolate is a fabulous medium for carrying flavour.
“Everything is unadulterated,” he says, “so it’s a fantastic neutral. It’s the raspberry’s medium, its platform – the sugar is balanced by the acidity, and you get the full flavour of the raspberry.”
A sophisticated shade of pink, this white chocolate bar tastes as good as it looks – and will ensure that you never see white chocolate the same way again.