Caramel, chilli then blueberry chocolate - yum!

I make no secret of the fact that I love chocolate.

In fact the only thing I love more than chocolate is blogging!

(Note: I said ‘thing’ which excludes all my nearest and dearest – including the pets – phew!)

That said – I’m also a sucker for anything new and a little bit left of square so when a package containing Lindt’s new chocolate flavours arrived on my doorstep there were squeals of glee all round.

There were three in the pack - Lindt Excellence Dark Caramel combining rich dark chocolate and caramel in one seriously addictive block. There are small bits of sweet caramel scattered through the silky-smooth, dark chocolate, giving it a delightful crunch as well as a remarkable depth of flavour.

Lindt Excellence Chilli combines fine dark chocolate and red chillies to create a surprisingly smooth and seductive flavour. Rather than fiery heat from the chilli, you first get the rich cocoa taste then a subtle hint of chilli develops deep on your tongue with a lingering warmth.

Lindt Excellence Blueberry Intense is a fruit and nut combination with a berry taste and fine slivers of almond. The berry aroma is surprisingly intense as you tear open the foil and when it melts on your tongue, the deep fruit flavour and tang of the delicate blueberry pieces lingers.

So I sat down, with K2's assistance,  and tasted my way through the three blocks for the following preference results 

1 .Lindt Excellence Dark Caramel 
2. Lindt Excellence Chilli 
3. Lindt Excellence Blueberry Intense 

If you can stop yourself away from devouring the block, here’s a recipe for Lindt Chocolate Caramel Tartlets by Thomas Schnetzler, Lindt Maître Chocolatier.

‘These small treats are as pretty as a picture and are the perfect indulgence for an elegant afternoon tea party; or with a few extra decorations can make an impressive dinner party dessert. The caramel chocolate combination is delectable, and the addition of crème fraiche cuts through some of the richness,” Thomas Schnetzler

Or if you want an easier fix, my friend Melanie says simply substitute Excellence Chilli in this Lindt recipe 

Caramel Tartlets
Serves 8 (8cm tartlet molds). 
Preparation time 30 minutes.  NB: Prepare filling a day in advance

Chocolate short crust pastry
100g    plain flour
25g      cocoa powder
25g      pure icing sugar
Pinch   salt
30g      Lindt Excellence Dark Caramel, finely chopped
60g      unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1          egg yolk
1 tbsp water, ice cold

140g    caster sugar
30g      glucose syrup
60ml    water
80g      unsalted butter
60g      crème fraiche
200g    Lindt Excellence Dark Caramel, chopped

Caramel Sauce
200g    caster sugar
40ml    water
150ml  cream, at room temperature

For the short crust pastry, place dry ingredients and chocolate into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add chilled butter and process until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix in egg yolk and water until just combined. Remove dough and wrap in cling film, press flat and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

For the tartlet base, roll out the dough to about 3mm thickness and line buttered tartlet molds. Line the pastry shells with baking paper, fill with rice and bake-blind at 170°C. After approximately 8 minutes, remove the paper and rice and finish baking until cooked (5-10 minutes). Take care not to overcook. Set aside to cool completely.

For the filling, combine the sugar, water and glucose in a saucepan and cook to a dark caramel*, washing the sides of the pot down with a brush dipped in water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Once desired colour is reached, take off heat and mix in the butter with care as it might bubble and splatter. Mix in the crème fraiche and finally the chocolate, stirring until all dissolved. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and keep at room temperature overnight.

For the caramel sauce, place sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook as above until desired caramel colour is reached. Take off heat, add a little cream and whisk vigorously, watching for steam and splatters. Add a little more cream and place some caramel sauce on a plate to cool and test its thickness.

To finish, divide the mixture between the pastry shells, decorate with caramel sauce and other decorations if desired, and serve.

Maitre’s Tip
*It is important to cook the caramel to a relatively dark colour to flavour the filling with a rich caramel taste rather than just sweetness. Once starting to turn brown, check the true colour of the caramel with a piece of baking paper as it might appear darker in the pot than it actually is.