For most of us, chocolate is a comforting food. We turn to it when we’re feeling low, we eat it during periods of celebration. A simple candy bar (as can any food. My husband is transported to Fridays in 1970s LaCrosse when he eats McDonalds Filet o’Fish) can transport us back to our childhood, a more simple time when we were so much more easily pleased and our expectations were much lower (and people expected less of us too!).
It is true though that as we grow older, our palate changes and we demand more of the foods we eat. We prefer steak to hamburger, savoury foods to sweet and salad to crisps. Likewise, the chocolate aficionado will choose a more exclusive brand of chocolate to the cheaper candy bars, often settling for a specific cocoa content and blend that is pleasurable on the tongue. Paradoxically, the chocolate lover will try bar after bar, always looking for the chocolate nirvana. Inevitably and perhaps most excitingly of all, we will never find that perfect bar but we will have a tonne of fun searching for it!
My own favourite type of chocolate to eat is a milk chocolate of around 40-50% cocoa content. It is probably frowned upon by professional chocolate eaters to enjoy milk chocolate but I enjoy its warming flavours, sometimes spicy, sometimes creamy, always delectable.
And because I’m always looking for the next great bar, I spend a lot of time surfing the net looking for unusual bars from around the world. Just this week alone I have eaten chocolate from South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, France, UK and Finland.
That’s right, our Nordic friends the Finnish seem to be keeping one of the best kept choco-secrets in the world: their chocolate is ace.
Karl Fazer has been producing Finland’s biggest selling range of chocolate since the 1920s, still using the same recipe for their famous blue label bar. Such is the popularity and power of Fazer chocolate that in 2001 they became Finland’s first registered colour trademark, meaning that no one else can sell chocolate products in blue packaging.
This might all sound a little pompous but the Fazer take this honour with pride and with good reason. 7.5 million kilograms of Fazer chocolate is produced yearly and they hold 65% of the chocolate market. More than that though, their chocolate is just delicious.
It is produced using excellent cocoa beans and a finely tuned production process and, as they state on their website, they are the only Finnish chocolate manufacturers using fresh milk instead of milk powder. The finished product is a full bodied, rich chocolate that tastes deeply of cocoa. It is a true eating chocolate in every sense, a milk chocolate for the grown-ups.
To please the more discerning palate, Fazer are now branching out into the 70% cocoa range, and whilst they are not quite dabbling in Single-Origin bars, the flavour of these bars is enough to warrant a second (or third) tasting.
Unfortunately for us Brits, unless you visit Finland (certainly worth a thought) or have Finnish friends, the only place we can find Fazer chocolate is on online auction sites where it is quite expensive. However, for the true chocoholic, it is well worth sourcing if only for a special treat.