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White chocolate and bars with higher cocoa content surprise judges at AoC awards

White chocolate bars and varieties with higher cocoa content have been the unexpected winners in this year’s Academy of Chocolate Awards.

Almost a thousand bars from across the world were submitted for judging, with both plain and flavoured white chocolate bars scoring highly. White chocolate bars picked up more than 12 silvers and 7 golds for the first time in the Awards’ history.

Award-winning flavoured white bars ranged from classic caramelised milk to the likes of matcha tea, lingonberry, and sweet pointed pepper.

At the opposite end of the cocoa solids scale, chocolates made with over 90 percent cocoa content, while a small proportion of the entries, also showed strongly, securing 2 gold and 13 silver awards.

The 100 percent cocoa solids bars performed particularly well, indicating a progressive rise in interest and quality.

This year also saw a strong showing from Europe, with Scandinavia winning 30 and new entrants from Germany winning 13 awards. UK producers fared well with 27 awards, including four golds, coming from new and established brands.

The burgeoning Far East market has also seen various producers picking up awards, with many originating from Thailand, including the first gold for a salted egg-flavoured bar.

Due to enforced Covid restrictions, the Tree to Bar and Bean to Bar entries have been judged separately this year with remaining categories scheduled for judging in October.

Judging of these bars has been undertaken by more than 30 leading individuals from across the sector coming together in closed virtual tasting sessions to deliberate over each chocolate.

All winners can be found on the Academy of Chocolate website

Judging for filled chocolates, couverture-based bars, drinking chocolate, spreads and Brand Experience is now live and will close on October 10th. Applications can be made here

The special awards will again be announced virtually this year, taking place via the Academy of Chocolate’s Instagram feed.

Clive Martyr, co-chair, Academy of Chocolate, said: “Despite the global difficulties our supply chain has suffered as a direct result of the pandemic, it has been incredibly heartening to see such passion and innovation through the entries this year.

“The diversity of flavour, geography and development, is testament to the brilliant makers doing such an incredible job of showcasing superb chocolate.”

Chantal Coady, co-chair, added: “We were surprised and delighted by the incredibly strong showing from producers of white chocolate. Traditionally many chocolate makers have avoided this area, but our judges have been impressed at how the white chocolate market is evolving, and I believe that good white chocolate can be the perfect canvass for delicate flavours.

“As for the 100 percent bars, these have been incredible. Arguably the purest expression of cacao without the addition sugar or vanilla, all too often used to conceal imperfections, there is really nowhere to hide, so these results really are quite something.

“We will all have quite a challenge to select our Special Award(s) winners this year.”