Way back in the mists of time (otherwise known as March), I was invited to be a judge for the Academy of Chocolate's Awards for 2011.
I was able to attend judging dates for the filled chocolate categories and spent two days tasting and assessing my way through a very large number of chocolates indeed. For every single chocolate we wrote down individual marks for appearance, aroma, taste, texture and finish as well as comments, to be given to the producers as feedback. For any chocolate-lovers amongst you, whilst it was an honour to be on the judging panel, and a great opportunity to sample a wide range of chocolate, it was actually hard work giving fair and consistent marks and feedback to every chocolate tasted, from first through to last.
It was also hard going as there were, amongst the many excellent chocolates submitted, some truly awful contenders, a few which I had to spit out and a couple which actually made me gag. There were also a surprising number with strongly burned chocolate or using poor quality ingredients. Luckily, these were in the minority, and most chocolates were average, good or great!
Judging was anonymous, with each chocolate delivered one at a time, with a unique code assigned to it. Scores and comments were hand written onto tasting sheets and then carefully collated into a spreadsheet, so scores could be averaged out and comments recorded.
The results for 2011 were announced in mid-April. You can view a list of gold, silver and bronze awards for the many filled chocolate and chocolate bar categories, here.
Once our judging duties were completed, I asked for identification of my favourites – those which I'd scored the most highly, and really really liked.
Here are the 7 I noted down as my top scorers – as you can see, every one of them did very well in the awards!
Pralus – Cubissmo Praliné Maison with Hazelnuts, Almonds & Pistachios – Gold. Best in category "filled chocolate – nuts"
William Curley – Muscovado Caramel – Gold. Best overall filled chocolate. Judged in category "filled chocolate – caramel"
Rococo – Grenada & Laphroaig whisky – Gold. Best in category "filled chocolate – alcohol"
Cocoa Red – Coconut Pandan – Gold. In category "filled chocolate – other flavours"
Iain Burnett – Assam & Green Tea Cardamom – Silver. In category "filled chocolate – spice and herb"
Lauden – Salted Caramel – Gold. In category "filled chocolate – caramel"
Paul a Young – Chateau Civrac – Silver. In category "filled chocolate – alcohol"
Well done to all the award winners!