Ramon is a master chocolatier, placing 6th in the Confectioner’s World Championship and winning the Gourmand Cookbook award in 2007 for the best chocolate book in the world! Having seen so many chocolatiers who don’t actually seem to eat what they make I asked Ramon if he ate chocolate. His answer, accompanied with a big grin was, “every single day!” But I’m starting my story in the middle here, so let me rewind a step and start at the beginning.....
Lucky, lucky me! When Leanne very kindly invited me to Authentic Caribbean’s Rum tasting session of rum and chocolate desserts I have to confess I thought I might be the victim of a hoax – could anything sounding so wonderful be real? But real it was! The UK Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell talked us through eleven different Caribbean rums in total; here he is sharing a joke with Ramon:
30 people, a mix of food writers, critics, chocolatiers and bloggers were invited to the event to sample rum and chocolate desserts. The desserts took Ramon and his assistant two days to prepare and the process began in Spain (where Ramon is based) and was finished in London.
What struck me straightaway was all the different colours of rum:
We were given eleven different rums to sample and Ramon had made a dessert using the rum for us to taste alongside the rum. Ian was a mine of information about rum and its history; my favourite anecdote being about how rum got its name. When English settlers first arrived in the Caribbean the local spirit was so rough and vicious that it was known as “Kill Devil”. Maybe early marketing men realised this wasn’t a name to attract customers! ‘Rumbullion’ is an old Cornish word meaning turmoil/uproar i.e. how some people behave when drunk. Over time the name was shortened to rum and that’s how we know it today.
Any event where you’re giving a rum and ginger ale on arrival has great promise! This wasn’t a drink I’d ever had before and would never have ordered it but it was so refreshing that I will order it from now on!
Ian and Ramon were a great team, but special credit must also go to Ramon’s industrious assistant. Here she is finishing off some delights:
Everything was outstandingly delicious but here’s a quick rundown of the treats we enjoyed (the name includes the type of rum and dessert). It would be too repetitious to tell you over and over how divine everything was so I’ll try and stick to explanations!
Mount Gay XO macaron
The mojito macaron with mint and lime sugar crust was sandwiched with white chocolate ganache with rum, lime and mint cream.
Appleton Estate VX Cream petit choux
This was a chocolate choux pastry filled with chocolate orange creme patisserie.
Angostura Rum sponge cake
The rum and chocolate sponge was soaked in rum syrup to create a rum baba type texture. The little ball of mousse on top was cream and passion fruit. The texture was smooth and silky.
English Harbour tigreton
Ramon explained that this was his little joke. Apparently a tigreton is a cheap Spanish cake that is for sale in all places that you wouldn’t really want to buy a cake from i.e. petrol stations, newsagents etc. He decided to elevate it to a work of art! The chocolate sponge had a rum and pine nut filling along with buttercream and raisins. The final touch of decadence was some real gold leaf.
Barcelo Imperial mousse
You’ll notice a syrup at the bottom of the glass – this was boiled rum and sugar, reduced by over 50% volume so that it had the texture of runny honey. Ramon described this as the “nectar of the rum”. Banana and lime was topped with biscuity crumble and then an enormous light moussey truffle.
This bonbon was made to look like a gold ingot and the exterior was brushed with gold. The filling was a dark ganache and a reduction of sweetened espresso.
El Dorado chocolate cream
Ramon was very keen to tell us that 20% of this mousse is neat rum! It tasted very strong and very creamy. He said that it was his version of Baileys. The mousse was soft in texture.
Chairman’s Reserve Frozen truffles
This iced truffle used Mexican vanilla, not something I’ve come across before. The truffles are frozen in a block, cut and then covered in cocoa. Apparently the temperature is key – it must be cold enough to freeze the truffle but not so cold that it becomes hard or difficult to eat.
Cockspur Coconut and lime
This isn’t a coconut shell. Apart from the fact that it’s too tiny, it’s edible! The whole shell is moulded chocolate shaped to look like coconut and then dusted with cocoa powder to complete the look. The filling was a stunning cream of coconut mousse. Lime jelly was topped with a fiery rum granita and Ramon confessed this is his favourite way of using rum in his desserts.
Doorley’s XO Milk cream
This was my favourite! A chocolate Breton biscuit base was topped with milk chocolate cream and then a sheet of caramel. The sweet Demerara of this rum worked wonderfully with the dessert and the little cube of mango added some tangy fruitiness.
XM Royal chocolate ice lolly
The texture of these lollies was different to a normal lolly – the ice crystals were looser somehow, more like a firm granita. The combination of mango and mandarin worked beautifully with the chocolate and rum.
Just in case we weren’t convinced at what an awesome combination rum and chocolate is there were two final delights on offer:
St Nicholas Abbey rum cakeThese little chocolate cakes were so packed with rum that they oozed juice when you bit into them! The chocolate was dark and rich. I would call these ‘financiers’ in term of their shape.
Chocolate sauce with Mount Gilboa rumThe skewer contains a fruit jelly like an extremely upmarket fruit pastille! The chocolate sauce was so intense that the shot glass measure was the perfect amount.
I approached the even as a tasting – we were told to take a sip of rum, taste the dessert, then take another sip of rum so we could see how the flavour changed based on what we’d eaten. I took sips and this is what my glasses looked like at the end:My friend Jasmin, who I took along, was far more thorough in her tasting and these were her glasses:
Thanks to everyone for this wonderful tasting session. It was educational and delicious!