The Italian chocolatiers Vanini have brought out their new range of unique chocolates, with flavours including rosemary, pear and cinnamon, and lemon and pink pepper. A stand out ethically focussed company, Vanini place emphasis on transparency and corporate social responsibility in addition to quality sourced ingredients to create an ‘Italian symbol of excellence’. I have had the onerous task this week of sampling their newest range – I know, hard life but still, read on for my review of these bella bagua delights!
Nutrition: With each bar sitting in the 570–615 calories per 100g range the nutritional values do not significantly differ from your average supermarket chocolate varieties. In saying that, Vanini pride themselves on using quality ingredients including Amazonian cocoa and this reflects pretty obviously in its taste. All chocolate is gluten- free, single origin cocoa, GMO free, vegetarian friendly and certified Halal. All varieties on offer are also predominantly higher in cocoa percentage than your average chocolate brand and therefore contain a lot less sugar (and make for a great addition to a wide range of recipes).
Milk Chocolate (49% cocoa)
Ingredients: Cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder, cocoa paste, milk fat, vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
Creamy, smooth, silky, and downright delish. I am a big fan of this basic milk chocolate and feel that this is a stand out winner for Vanini. It really demonstrates the company’s commitment to quality ingredients and puts them confidently in the top end of the chocolate market. Vanini have suggested pairing this one with either a white wine or pomegranate tea, however as a milk chocolate purist I’m going to say just get this beauty into your mouth and savour the goodness.
Milk Chocolate (49% cocoa) with Orange Peel
Ingredients: cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder, cocoa paste, candied orange peel, icing sugar, sugar, glucose syrup, orange peel, milk fat, orange oil, vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
As someone who lives with a Terry’s chocolate orange as constant presence in my fridge, I am perhaps a little biased when it comes to any choc-orange creations. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of the chunks of peel that tend to dominate the palate when bitten into, however they do give it a powerful citrus flavour and there can be no criticisms given for the chocolate itself. If you like chocolate with bits in it that have a tendency to linger around post-chocolate consumption, this one is likely to win you over.
Milk Chocolate (49% cocoa) with Sicily Sea Salt
Ingredients: cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder, cocoa paste, milk fat, sea salt, vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
I am ever a fan of the salt-chocolate combo and Vanini have really delivered the goods with this one. Smooth milk chocolate with unique, small salty surprises that don’t dominate the silkiness of the chocolate and are just seamlessly balanced. You could easily eat a whole bar of this yourself with #noregrets! I downed this bar with a glass of Sicilian white wine as suggested by Vanini and fancied I could be sat on a sunny rooftop bar in the Mediterranean…such bliss.
Dark Chocolate (62% cocoa) with Rosemary
Ingredients: cocoa paste sugar, cocoa butter, sugared rosemary (sugar, rosemary). Emulsifier: soya lecithin. Vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
Now this is a dark horse winner. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was more than pleasantly surprised. The crunchy bits of rosemary add a really nice texture to the smooth rich chocolate that is expertly balanced with the soft herbal aftertaste of rosemary. This ranks very highly with me and will be a fixture in the cupboard as a treat to go with an afternoon cup of tea. If you feel sceptical about this flavour combination I urge you to give it a try – I’m confident you will be pleasantly surprised.
Dark Chocolate (74% cocoa) with Cocoa Nibs
Ingredients: cocoa paste, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, fat reduced cocoa powder. Emulsifier: soya lecithin. Vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
This is a luxurious dark chocolate, and at 74% not overly bitter or too overwhelming for people who aren’t massive dark-choc fans. The cocoa nibs add a pleasing, milder sour note to complement the cocoa and create that crunchy texture similar to roasted coffee beans.
Dark Chocolate (86% cocoa)
Ingredients: Cocoa paste, cocoa butter, fat reduced cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract. Gluten-free.
This is the darkest chocolate in the Vanini range and whilst not the biggest fan of dark chocolate myself, this one has actually won me over. It doesn’t have the bitter taste that most high cocoa percentage chocolates do, but rather comes across smooth, velvety and sumptuous. I can imagine this being an amazing addition to rich chocolate cake recipes or simply on its own as a small, special late night treat.
Dark Chocolate (62% cocoa) with Lemon and Pink Pepper
Ingredients: cocoa paste, sugar, cocoa butter, lemon peels (lemon peels, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, dextrose. Acidity regulator: citric acid), emulsifier: soya lecithin, pink pepper. Lemon oil, vanilla extract Gluten-free.
Now this was a flavour first for me, I wasn’t as taken with it as I was with the rosemary. The chocolate again is beautiful and smooth, however the chunks of lemon and unusual herbal flavours of pepper are quite unique. The aroma of lemon isn’t overly strong however and despite its interesting flavour, is nicely balanced with the dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate (62% cocoa) with Pear and Cinnamon
Ingredients: Cocoa paste, sugar, cocoa butter, pear pieces, cinnamon. Emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural pear flavour, vanilla extract. Gluten-free
This is another delicious winner in the Vanini range. With a sudden, surprise burst of pear followed by that signature smooth Vanini chocolate, this bar is tastefully balanced and aromatic. Subtle herbal flavours with a hint of cinnamon, I think this could be a luxury guest pleaser to schmooze them after dinner with some red wine or in the afternoon with a cup of tea.
Value: A brilliant luxury chocolate these are actually very decently priced given their impeccable quality, both in taste and appearance and for their extensive certification – which doesn’t come cheap!
Summary: I am really impressed with this fair trade, ethically focused, high quality chocolate. Vanini have created some chic, decadent, and subtly sophisticated flavours that surprise the palate and are all backed by their classic, velvety, silky-rich chocolate. Their high cocoa mass means you can enjoy them as a treat with less guilt than you would your average “Kit-Kat” and they are also a wonderful addition to brownie recipes -you can be sure I used the Rosemary chocolate for an epic twist to mine!
Available at selected Waitrose stores throughout the UK and can be ordered from Waitrose online. You can find out more about Vanini and their range of delectable products on their website and Facebook page.