Well, as you can see, the chocolate has already had a good effect on the mood of the judges!! But who could not feel happy when faced with this splendid selection of goodies? And this is only about half of them.
In fact the category was Chocolate and Confectionery but I am afraid that, as in previous years, the ‘confectionery’ was heavily outnumbered by the chocolate truffles, bars, discs, mints, raw chocolates, snowmen, Easter eggs, Advent calendars and drops!
Encouragingly, the quality was also very good – which is more than could have been said in previous years when our chocolate expert judges had positively despaired of the category! Moreover, the number of allergens excluded had also increased – so not just dairy but, in a number of products, soya, nut and eggs as well, obviously as gluten wheat.
Because we did not have a Christmas category this year, seasonal products (chocolates, mince pies, Christmas puddings/cakes) were entered into their relevant category – puddings and desserts for the Christmas puds, Tea time for the cakes and this category for Easter eggs and Father Christmases. This did mean that we had to brutally smash of Father Christmas’s head in order to sample him, but I guess that is all in a day’s work if you are a chocolate Father Christmas!
Anyhow, much serious tasting was also done (as you can see here) and although the discussion did not get as heated as it had in the nut category, it took us till nearly 5pm to reach agreement on winners. And I have to say that, as in the nut category, much of the discussion ranged around how the products had labelled their allergens, what warnings they had given and whether those warnings were reasonable. No matter how good the chocolate, if its labelling is inaccurate or misleading, I am afraid that we cannot accept it as a winner.
However, the prize for the day went to Catherine (with a C) who had been upgraded from kitchen prep to judge status to give her some judging experience before we let her loose on the TeaTime category. (As an ex winner of a FFFood Award for baking we could scarcely not invite her to judge Tea Time!!)
As you can see, she had all her mini samples marked up on her plate so that she could compare and return to where she was without getting lost. Just shows what a stint as an Innocent product developer can do for one!!
* The Chocolate and Confectionery category was sponsored by FreeFrom Heaven.