Islands Chocolate Buttons are no longer the well-guarded secret of the world’s leading restaurants. Home bakers can now get their hands on these miniature marvels and go head to head with the best chefs from the comfort of their own kitchens.
I’ll hold my hand up and admit; I love chocolate! I wouldn’t categorise myself as a chocolate connoisseur, more of an off the shelf chocolate confectionary fan. However, every week, my wonderful wife does treat me to some home-baked chocolate chip cookies, which allows her to experiment with the ingredients and last week, she introduced me to Islands Chocolate.
It’s likely that many of you will not be overly familiar with the name Islands Chocolate, but chances are if you’re a fan of fine dining you’re likely to have tasted their creations. As we mentioned previously, their chocolate products are a favourite of some of the world’s greatest chefs. Who, we hear you ask? Well, there’s Sat Bains, Gordon Ramsay, Jason Atherton, Claude Bosi and Marcus Wareing to name but a few.
Unless you’re in the culinary trade, you’ll not have had the chance to try your cooking and baking skills with Islands Chocolate Buttons. In the spirit of sharing, the chocolatiers are now making them available to purchase nationwide by home bakers like you and me.
The Islands Chocolate Buttons Flavours
There are five varieties to choose from in the Islands Chocolate Buttons range. Each pack contains 300gms of chocolate dynamite and celebrate the fruity characteristics of Caribbean cacao.
- 55% Milk Premium (£9.50): This is a dark version of milk chocolate and not to be confused with off-the-shelf milk chocolate. It has hints of caramel and fruit and a higher percentage of cocoa than most other milk chocolate products.
- 65% Dark Premium (£10.50): This version can best be described as a fruity explosion and is packed full of flavour. From what we are told, this is the favourite of the Island Chocolate team. It has banana undertones coupled with subtle citrus notes and is very tasty.
- 75% Dark Premium (£11.50): From here, we start to venture in the realms of what I consider to be ‘real chocolate’. This version has a fantastic flavour thanks to a lovely balance between fruit and nut. It’s ideal for a momentary treat if you have wandering hands and is even better to cook with.
- 85% Dark Premium (£12.50): This is another one for the true chocolate fan. It is well-balanced chocolate and is one of the favourites of the top kitchens. It is known for its earthiness, and subtle citrus tones and surprisingly has very little bitterness.
- 100% Dark Premium (£13.50): This is the one for hardcore chocolate fans. How best to describe this version? I’m very much a milk in my coffee fan, hence my fondness for milkier versions of chocolate. If you like your coffee strong and black, then this is the one for you! It has an intense flavour which makes it ideal for both sweet and savoury concoctions.
The Islands Chocolate Story
It’s rare that we get a chance to tell the story of a brand from the St.Vincent Islands in Luxurious Magazine. In fact, this might be a first-ever!
Island Chocolate began its life by making and selling chocolate locally to the St. Vincents Islanders before bringing their delicious artisan chocolate to the UK in 2018.
Traditionally, chocolate is made from cocoa beans of ordinary quality bought on the world market from many different sources and mixed provenance. What makes Islands Chocolate different is they believe that the only way to ensure an entirely sustainable, thoroughly ethical and completely traceable supply chain is to control and manage the entire process right from the seed.
This begins with the planting, where they maintain complete control over what they are growing. Through a carefully controlled gene bank, they are continuously developing the best cocoa trees with the most interesting and variable flavour profiles. For those thinking that producing the finest chocolate is a simple as plant and then pick, you should be surprised to know that every tree they plant is tagged with its genetic profile!
Making cacao takes a lot of time and a great deal of skill. The farms allow a five-year growing period until the plant reaches maturity and the pod harvested. The beans are then fermented and dried on-site. The high quality of beans grown means there is no need to treat, decontaminate or homogenise them.
Islands Chocolate’s mission to produce 100% traceable cocoa has been a complete success. Every bag of beans they produce can be traced back to the valley in which it was grown and the treatment it has received whilst going through the farm’s state-of-the-art processing facility.
The team has complete control of roasting temperatures and conching times and can tailor these to suit the different cocoa varieties, resulting in incredibly rich and complex tasting chocolate. During the process, valuable flavanols are maintained, allowing the consumer to reap the health benefits of cacao.
St. Vincent’s ancient volcanic soils are the perfect terroir for cocoa. It also allows for a diverse range of excellent fine-flavour cocoa varieties, which is hugely important as the quality of the beans are hugely influential upon the flavour of the final product.
Sustainability, Environment & Community
Sustainability is at the heart of the Islands Chocolate brand: supporting employees and farmers, resources and communities by promoting good agricultural practices and methods that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for the community. This approach includes everyone as stakeholders within the industry.
The cocoa is grown in the recognised agroforestal system outside forest boundaries and water catchment areas. Indigenous trees such as mangoes and a high canopy are maintained together with inter-planting of long-term tree crops such as mahogany. They use no sprays out in the bush and have adopted a low input fertiliser policy.
By paying good wages, Islands Chocolate can make a huge difference to the viability of local communities in St. Vincent. They have firm commitments to support programs and have a permanent small-works team dedicated to improving local schools, facilities and infrastructure where the farms are located.
The cocoa company’s field staff make up more than 200 employees and are paid considerably more than the Fairtrade recommended wage. They have a clear progression plan to allow increased wages and further advancement within the company. Islands Chocolate also supports a small number of farmers growing cocoa independently, with free plants, advice and help throughout the growing process and with offtake agreements to buy their cocoa.
Where and how to buy Islands Chocolate Buttons?
We know that many of you reading this will be salivating at the thought of getting your hands on the Islands Chocolate Buttons and begin showing the world’s greatest chefs what you’re capable of. Getting some or all the flavours is simple, just head over to the Islands Chocolate website www.islandschocolate.com, click on the Shop tab at the top of the page and make your purchase!
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