Strawberry and balsamic truffles

Nuggets of intriguing yet delicious handmade ganache truffles from Chocolicious

Sea salt. Chili. Cardamom. Lime leaf. Even a cursory glance around your local supermarket will tell you we have become accustomed to the addition of savoury ingredients to chocolate. Once the epitome of ‘fusion’ and ‘gastronomic’ cuisine, today a square of salted caramel chocolate is basically prescriptive medicine for Sunday night blues.

Nevertheless, some boundaries are yet to be broached. Some flavour conventions are so sacrosanct, the idea of their subversion is almost impossible to get your head around. It’s into this category that balsamic vinegar steps, when paired with strawberry puree and chocolate at Chocolicious.

Yes, balsamic vinegar. The dark, sticky, fermented grape must. The name alone conjures images of green salads, vineyards ripe with blushing fruit and ciabatta riddled with holes and olive oil. It doesn’t say ‘chocolate’, any more than chocolate says venison: and yet the latter is a combination Marcus Wareing has rendered almost mainstream. Balsamic vinegar and gelato, meanwhile, is an Italian staple. Is there more to this balsamic vinegar and chocolate combination than meets our mind’s eye?

Generations of cocoa growers
The answer is yes: a thousand times yes. Heyleigh Bazelya’s truffles are at the vanguard of intriguing-yet-delicious flavour, and this is no exception. “The ganache filling is made from traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and real strawberry puree,” Hayleigh confirms—both of which are sourced from the Market’s medley of Italian produce stalls and fruiters. The cocoa beans come from Ghana, where they are fairly traded with farmers who have been growing cocoa for generations; the cream from our own Neal’s Yard Dairy. The result is a small, cigar-shaped nugget, the intense taste of which belies its humble, slightly dusty exterior.

It is a force field of flavour. The delicate strawberries come as a floral afterthought to an intense hit of dark chocolate ganache, and the brooding balsamic vinegar with which it is laced. This is a grown-up chocolate: the sweet treat equivalent of an old fashioned clinking in a crystal glass, or a spoonful of glistening caviar. Enjoy responsibly, with a cup of dark roast Monmouth coffee, or irresponsibly with a large glass of ripe, full-bodied red.