Dark chocolate balls of salted liquid caramel from Artisan du Chocolat
Words: Mark Riddaway
Food and music are the two things that lodge themselves most firmly in my mind—the Proustian triggers that bring memories rushing back. Madeleines and melodies. Sometimes, they trigger each other: spices can be symphonic, sourdoughs folky, Ginger Pig sausage rolls a loud euphonium solo.
The problem with Artisan du Chocolat’s salted caramels—and believe me, it’s the only problem—is that whenever I eat one, the tune that plays in my head, however hard I fight it, isn’t something dramatic and operatic to match the explosion of amazing tastes in my mouth.
It is Isaac Hayes as Chef from South Park singing, in exceptionally bad taste, about his signature dish. “Oh, suck on my chocolate salty balls,” he blares, as a driving pop-funk rhythm echoes through my cranium. “Stick ’em in your mouth and suck ’em.”
Drenches the taste buds
And that’s exactly what I do. At the first hint of a bite, the dark chocolate shell breaks and a liquid caramel enlivened with a pinch of noirmoutier grey salt drenches the taste buds. “They’re on fire baby,” groans Isaac. Yes they are, Isaac. Yes they are.
The sweets come in a beautifully designed box emblazoned with the title ‘No. 1’—by coincidence, the chart position achieved by the heroically juvenile Chocolate Salty Balls in 1999. It was Isaac Hayes’ biggest hit in the UK, bigger even than Theme from Shaft, although probably not the song that this giant of soul music would wish to be remembered for.
But whatever his misgivings, he’d surely forgive any association with Artisan du Chocolat and its most famous creation. Even Chef’s salty balls shrink in comparison to these ones.