Lily O'Brien// Choc au Vin Masterclass!

I had the extraordinary privilege of attending a matching master-class, listening to the wisdom of Jilly Goolden & the founder of Lily O'Brien chocolates, Mary-Ann O'Brien, I sat in a gorgeous room in the Insitute of contemporary Arts in London, with a gorgeous view to boot! tasting chocolates with wines & drinks.

I was intrigued at the notion of wines & drinks with chocolate, usually when I have chocolate it's the other half of Al's Kinder Egg, because I don't want him to have a whole one!, so the idea of wine with chocolate got me thinking.

Can wine change or add flavours to specific chocolates?

The view, it was a wonderfully sunny,warm day, the rest of the week had been pretty poor weather wise.

The displays with the chocolates perfectly accented it all, your eyes just draw straight to them all.

We all sat down & listened to Mary-Ann talk a little about how Lily O'Brien's chocolates came to be,
and then we listened to Jilly, how she was given the task of matching up Mary-Ann's chocolates to various Wines & drinks, the room filled with smiles,and occasional laughter, the atmosphere was wonderful.

Lily O'Brien's Chocolates..a brand with a story.

Lily O'Brien's chocolates are the brainchild of Mary-Ann O'Brien, Mary-Ann discovered her passion for all things chocolate after recovering from a debilitating illness.

Mary-Ann honed her chocolate making skills among world class chefs & chocolatiers in both south Africa & Europe before starting her own mini enterprise from her Kildare Kitchen, with little more than two saucepans, a wooden spoon & her then toddler, Lily.
Mary-Ann began to create high quality chocolate recipes for her friends & family.

Not satisfied with the scale of her enterprise, she soon expanded in the hope of positioning excellent Irish chocolate on the world map. Naming the company after her daughter, Lily.
Since then Lily O'Brien's chocolates has established itself as one of Ireland's best-loved chocolatier's.

One by one we each took a chocolate & a small glass, & listened & tasted Jilly Goolden's recommendations..

1. Lily O'Brien's Zesty Orange chocolate- Rich Chocolate ganache infused with Brazilian Orange oil and tangy orange pieces smothered in milk chocolate..
Paired with..

Tesco Finest Dessert Semillon 2009 37.5cl - £6.79 South Eastern Australia.
"The chocolate is infused with vivid orange notes which,when combined with this dessert semillon, magically call to mind an exotic orange liqueur. The wine is honeyed; honeycomb-intense with notes of bottled peaches & spun sugar. The pairing with the zesty orange chocolate is intense and seductive like alcoholic marmalade."

2. Lily O'Brien's Crème Brulee chocolate- Sweet Vanilla Custard truffle on a layer of smooth caramel in a milk chocolate cup topped with white chocolate and sprinkled with caramelised sugar.
paired with..

Offley Rose Port 75cl, Waitrose- £11.99
"Crème Brulee flavours paired with chocolate are a natural marriage, with the creamy custard and sweet caramelised sugar. Finding a perfect wine match adds a stroke of intrigue, and this funky new rose port, blossomy and suggestive of grape nectar and oranges stuck with cloves, fits the chocolate like a velvet glove. perfect..."

3. Lily O'Brien's Praline Perfection- Praline combined with caramelised hazelnut pieces in a sweet white chocolate cup topped with dark chocolate & hazelnuts.
paired with...

Sainsbury's Asti 75cl-£5.50- Italy
"This pairing is sublime! The creamy nuttiness of the chocolate- a little like a sumptuous bedtime drink-is perfectly complimented by the headily frivolous, intensely grapey sweet sparkling Asti Spumante. The Asti adds a little ripple of acidity to the chocolate and highlights the creamy, nutty notes." 

4. Lily O'Brien's Creamy Caramels with Sea salt- Thin smooth disks of milk chocolate filled with smooth caramel and just a hint of sea salt.
Paired with..

Morgenhof Estate Chenin Blanc 75cl, Waitrose- £11.99- South Africa
"From this subtle chocolate you get a little catch of sea salt on your lips, like a sea breeze, before the caramel coats your tongue. Daringly, I've matched this with a dry wine, the stewed apple and cashew notes in the wine broadened by it's partical fermentation in creamy french oak. The saltiness of the chocolate bridges the gap between the dry and the sweet, the flavour emphasis subtly tipping from dry to sweet, sweet to dry in your mouth".

5.  Lily O'Brien's Stem Ginger Batons- Lily O'Brien's famous dark chocolate recipe fused with real pieces of stem ginger.
Paired with..

Mavrodaphne de Patras 75cl, NV Tesco, £4.99- Greece.
"This grown-up chocolate with it's snap of sweetly coddled ginger calls for an unusual wine. Mavrodaphne is a strong, sweet red with notes of mince pies and simmering jam.
Pairing the ginger baton with this sweet red wine brings the ginger notes to the forefront, then in comes the dried fruit element from the wine deepening and broadening the flavour combo."

6. Lily O'Brien's Raspberry Infusion Cup- White chocolate truffle infused with Raspberry on a bed of raspberry compote, smothered in rich dark chocolate and topped with raspberry pieces.
paired with..

Mount Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Noir 75cl, Waitrose £19.49- New Zealand.
"Raspberry to the fore! Pairing the intense summer pudding scents of this oaky Pinot Noir with it's toasted chesnut overtones, with the raspberry and chocolate flavours introduce a "sweet and tart" marriage, the flavours complimenting each other like apple and cheese".

7. Lily O'Brien's Key Limey Pie- An award winning chocolate with zesty lemon curd topped with lime infused truffle, smothered in dark chocolate.
paired with..

Poinsettia Cocktail- A brilliant combination of Prosecco, orange liqueur and cranberry classic.
"This popular chocolate has intense limey flavour, like crystallised limes and is true to it's inspiration, but with the added creaminess of chocolate. Natural Lime acidity is not a natural partner for wine,  but makes an inspired flavour fusion with poinsettia, (or just Cointreau and cranberry if you prefer), the orange from the liqueur contributing a zesty edge while the lime dovetails in perfectly with the cranberry. A great Christmas indulgence."

8. Lily O'Brien's Double Chocolate Truffle- A combination of single origin 68% dark chocolate layered with 55% dark chocolate truffle smothered in milk and dark chocolate.
Paired with...

Vin Santo di Montepulciano Crociani 37.5cl, Waitrose- £19.49- Italy
"This unusual dessert wine,nutty on the nose and with a hint of orange skins is made using grapes that are dried on straw mats in a breezy loft. Combining the orange and apple hints in the win with this rich creamy chocolate (reminiscent of the most wicked hot chocolate you've ever tried) accentuates the orange notes in the wine and gives a zesty note to the chocolate. An exotic combination, the fusion of opposites".

Listening to Jilly's descriptions whilst tasting was so interesting, I have next to no knowledge of wines & drinks whatsoever, I know what I like, and what I don't and that's usually as far as it goes..

Tasting the chocolates with the wines & drinks, added so much more depth of flavour & enjoyment to it!.

My favourites have to be the Praline perfection with the Asti Spumante, Key limey pie with the poinsettia cocktail & a pleasant surprise to me the Ginger Baton with the Mavrodaphne. 

I was taken aback at the taste & flavours teamed with the chocolate & drink, alone I felt unsure, but together with the Mavrodaphne it created a beautiful team of flavours that were a pleasant surprise to me- and left me wanting more!.

Lily O'Brien's Milk Chocolate Creamy Caramels with sea salt 120g £2.50
Lily O'Brien's Stem Ginger Batons 120g £2.50
Lily O'Brien's Chocolate collection Gift-wrap 190g £6.00
Lily O'Brien's Desserts collection 230g £6.00 

Luxury Chocolates just got more special!