the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 4 – Mr Popple’s Chocolate

‘Tis the season of eating, drinking and generally being merry, but it is also a time where you can indulge in something rather special. Chocolate is another seasonal staple, but not all chocolate is made equal. A shiny foil wrapper is not the designator of high quality, as we all know. We are seeking out the unusual flavours, unexpected combinations and highly ethical ingredients. It’s Day 4 on our Eco Gift Guide and we would like some of Mr Popple’s Chocolate please.

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Made by hand using organic raw cacao and ethically sourced ingredients (by someone actually called Mr Popple), this is probably as good as you will get from a bar of chocolate. With tasty, intriguing flavours, from Stong Dark to Euphoric Orange and even Flower Power, which is filled with rose oil and dried flowers. The chocolate is also packaged in lovely 100% recycled board sleeves with coloured prints over.

eco-gift-guide-day-4-mr-popples-chocolate-1It also has some rather lovely benefits…

Raw cacao has several stimulating qualities to it, and causes feelings of well being – like normal chocolate – but many, many times stronger, and without the energy crash that comes later. Because Mr Popple does not roast his cacao beans, lots of nutrients that normally get destroyed by roasting are left intact. Some of the nutritional compounds in Mr Popple’s raw chocolate bars can cause pleasant psychoactive effects.’

Ooh er.

 

 

We would be delighted to find this in our stockings this year, especially the rather incredible Amazin’ Fennel and Raisin…

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Find them in various stockists in the UK through their website, or buy online from £3.49 per bar, with different bulk buy combination discounts too. Can you really just go for one bar? It’s healthy. It really is.

(images via Mr Popple’s Chocolate)

Eco Easter Eggs…

This is it. The weekend were we can (legitimately) wake up and consume chocolate before 9am if we so desire. Easter, or Ostara to give the festival it’s pagan name, is all about fertility and new beginnings. This is why we have eggs delivered by the rabbit which is well famed for it’s ability to reproduce faster than you can shout ‘fairtrade chocolate please’. But, with so much crap chocolate out there, we have picked our top 5 eggs that we would be happy to find in a hunt.

Montezumas Eco easter egg
£7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

1 – First up is the Eco Egg from Montezuma’s Chocolate. Organic chocolate with bits of butterscotch all enclosed in a completely plastic free packaging option. Eat the egg, compost or recycle the packaging. Perfect.

Montezumas Eco easter egg 2
also £7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

2 – Okay – this is technically the dark chocolate version of the one above, but hey. It’s a different egg, still encased in the eco packaging and this time complete with cocoa nibs. Tasty.

Divine Easter Egg
£3.99 from Ethical Superstore

3 – Next up is the fairtrade milk chocolate egg from Divine, with Toffee and Sea Salt. As well as being a good ethical choice for your chocolate fix, this egg also has a great absence of plastic in it’s packaging too. Get yours from the Ethical Superstore.

Half a Dozen Praline-filled Hen's Eggs
£25 for half a dozen – Rococo Chocolate

4 – Fancy something a bit fancier? How about the half a dozen praline filled hens eggs from specialist chocolatiers Rococo? Presented in their trademark patterned packaging nestled in a coloured egg box, these are something special.

Picture of MINT EASTER EGG
£6.59 – Green & Black’s

5 – and lastly we are going dark and minty with the Green And Blacks Organic Mint Chocolate Egg. One for the grown ups, and a mint chocolate egg that tastes stunning and not like toothpaste. And look. No plastic either.

So. Our top five Easter Eggs. Let’s hope we will find a couple hidden in the garden this weekend…

(images via links)

Mr Popple’s raw chocolate – good for you and with packaging to die for…

We all know that eating too much chocolate is rather bad for us. It is the essential 4pm sugar hit that we all crave, yet know that really we should eat an apple instead. But, like lots of things in this big old world, not all chocolate is made equal. Some chocolate is, (dare we say it) actually rather good for you. Raw cacao chocolate has stacks of health benefits, including natural stimulants (without the sugar crash) and loads of trace minerals and other loveliness. Mr Popple’s chocolate is not only made from beautiful raw cacao, it has the most wonderful packaging.

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This is where the term eating with your eyes really comes into its own – we spotted this beautiful chocolate first by its packaging in hiSbe Food in Brighton (our latest retail design project) and just fell in love with it.

Simple, hairy manilla style brown recycled card, the packaging of Mr Popple’s differentiates each of the delicious flavours with a single, one colour print in the centre of each bar, complete with honest mis-prints and strong logo styles.

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We do have a bit of a ‘thing’ for this type of honest and simple packaging and branding as it helps to communicate the honest nature of the brand itself with incredible clarity. A brand using raw ingredients would not really fit a packaging design that is high gloss and multicoloured. It would not work. But get it right, and it really is a powerful tool indeed.

So much so in fact, that we are going to have a bar a week as our treat, not only for the deliciousness of the chocolate itself, but to collect the packaging and drool over that as well. We are, indeed, design geeks.

(photos by claire potter)

sloe gin, sloe vodka and sloe chocolates…

We love foraging and this year we found an absolute bumper load of sloes – literally a minute from our studio – the biggest and fattest we have ever seen.

So, over the period of a few days in early September, we collected a small basketful of the stunning blue hued berries, ready for making sloe gin and sloe vodka for Christmas presents.

Traditionally the sloes are collected after the first frosts, which act to soften the berries, but as we were having a very warm autumn, we took the view that the birds would get there before the ice would, so instead our berries were packed up in the freezer for a few days.

Once frozen, thawed and pricked, the sloes were added to gin and vodka bottles with equal measures of sugar and placed in the larder – having a shake every now and then to get the sugar dissolved and the fruit juices flowing.

Some people give the liqueur with the sloes still in the bottle, but if you are keeping it long term, you are better off removing them from the liquid.

Now, to throw these gin or vodka crammed sloes would be a criminal waste, but most people to just that – straight in the bin. I have to confess, in past years this has also been the fate of our sloes, but no more.

SLOEmotion is a fantastic company based in North Yorkshire who specialise in sloe based drinks – mostly of the alcoholic variety – but they also create stunning sloe chocolates – using the destoned fruits which had previously flavoured their liqueurs.

Therefore, we will be taking inspiration from SLOEmotion and creating our own, sloe truffles:

First, make a dark chocolate truffle ganache.

Heat 300ml double cream until hot, add a knob of butter, remove from heat and stir to melt. Pour hot cream over 300g organic 80% solids dark chocolate and stir gently till all the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of sea salt then transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge.

When nicely firm, assemble your truffles – take a destoned gin, vodka or other infused sloe – or two if you are feeling generous and a teaspoon of your truffle mixture. Roll the chocolate around the sloes with your hands (be quick) then dust the balls with dark, sifted cocoa.

Place back in the fridge to set again, when they can be removed and packed for giving.

Alternatively, you can just dunk the sloes in melted chocolate to create the most adult version of chocolate covered raisins ever.

And if you don’t have sloes or time – get yours from SLOEmotion. Delicious.