It’s Christmas, it’s been a long year and now there’s (almost) nothing left on your to-do list than sit on the sofa and eat copious amounts of sweets and chocolate until it’s time to flagellate yourself again in January.
For the holy grail of Christmas selection boxes, look no further than a Quality Street tin. The oldest of festive confectionery, it has been causing family disputes since 1936, as generations squabble over who’s eaten too many of the good ones and whether it’s socially acceptable to put empty wrappers back in the tin (it’s not).
By far the biggest debate surrounding the purple tin is about which is the best sweet – some are partial to a caramel swirl, while others would die defending the purple one.
To put an end to this debate once and for all, we asked Alistair Birt, head patisserie chef at Harrods (which means he really knows his stuff), to tell us which Quality Street is the best.
“My favourite is definitely the green triangle. The combination of praline and milk chocolate hits that sweet spot perfectly,” he says matter-of-factly, adding that his favourite is “closely followed by the purple one”.
He isn’t alone in his love of the green triangle. Earlier this month, consumer group Which? polled chocolate fans to discover that the Green Triangle (and the purple one) were the favourites in the Quality Street tub.
The consumer body found tubs contain fewer of our favourites, containing just half of the “ideal” ratio. Researchers found five or six of each of the popular types, in an average 720g tub, when ideally there should be 10 or 11 to cater to our preferences.
Now that we know the favourites, we have more questions. Is there an optimal time to enjoy the sweet treats or is continuously grazing until you’ve eaten an entire tin to yourself before Christmas dinner perfectly acceptable?
Thankfully it’s the latter (though maybe in moderation) according to Master Chocolatier, Paul A Young. “Chocolate should be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. The only factor to be aware of is that strong foods and drinks eaten before enjoying chocolate will inevitably change the experience and eating dark chocolate late at night may keep you awake due to the natural stimulant effects.” Duly noted.
Thanks to the many varieties of caramel-filled, fudge swirled and flavoursome options, there’s something available to suit every budget whether you’re looking to spend a couple of quid to enjoy on the sofa or are splashing the cash on a posh gift. But is there a difference in what you’re getting with a £5 tin and the pricier chocs? Birt says yes. “Paying more for chocolate provides a higher quality of beans, a fairer wage to the farmer growing the beans, greater care in the craftsmanship and overall manufacturing of the product which ultimately all adds to a longer lasting and complex flavour of the chocolate,” he explains.
As for the future of chocolate, Young tells HuffPost hot chocolate continues to be the biggest trend right now, “It’s affordable, comforting, easy to achieve at home and simple to personalise with flavours and inclusions. But a good hot chocolate depends on quality of the chocolate used.” In what many may take as a controversial outlook, he recommends making hot chocolate with just water to let the flavour shine through as dairy products masks the true taste of the chocolate and can make the drink overly rich.
So there you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to nab all the green triangles.
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