Celebrating a Soy-Free Easter with Amedei Chocolate
Amedei is a fairly new chocolate manufacturer based in Tuscany, Italy. Although their exquisite hand-made chocolates have been around for some time in all sorts of forms from chocolate bars to blocks to drops and even boxed assortments, very few outside of Europe know about this fine company and the beautiful products they have on offer (both taste and appearance-wise).
You can see a picture of the chocolate factory to the right. Unfortunately, I have never been to the Tuscan region - or any other region of Italy, for that matter. Perhaps I'll have to make a honeymoon of it someday, where I can tour the majestic facility and sample some of the finest chocolates, right at their source. Mmmmmmm... ;)
Sadly, here in Australia, Amedei products are not readily available. In fact, it is very difficult to find anything comparable in our country. Last time I checked, it appears as though only one retail outlet in the southern-pacific region sells their products.
Come on Australians, come on! Let's give everyone a fair go!
Soy Free Chocolate
Avoiding Soy and Chocolate
One notable difference that sets Amedei apart from virtually all other chocolate manufacturers (and even other specialty producers) is that none of the products contain soy lecithin. Typically lecithin is used as an inexpensive emulsifier-type ingredient in a variety of modern-day foods, often for the purpose of binding or 'thinning out' a mixture of ingredients. In the production of chocolate, lecithin is used to 'speed up' the 'conching' (i.e. mixing ingredients (i.e. cocoa mass, sugar, (milk), and cocoa butter) for several hours to 'debitter' the chocolate mixture) stage of production by reducing the viscosity (i.e. 'thinning out') and combining the mixture of cocoa mass and cocoa butter. This stops the cocoa butter, cocoa mass and other ingredients from separating. Higher-performance equipment is necessary if the chocolate maker chooses to not use emulsifiers in his or her chocolate. Also, in order to successfully produce chocolate that is palatable as well as emulsifier-free, the manufacturer must allocate more time to this 'conching' stage of the chocolate making process.
Today, it is very hard to find chocolate without the 'wretched', aforementioned ingredient.
Now typically if you were to tour a chocolate production factory, or look at a chocolate making diagram, you would think you would know how to make chocolate just like them... I know I did when I was young. ;)
There is no explanation for the use of emulsifiers in this diagram. This is a dirty little secret to the chocolate making process that the industry doesn't wants to keep as a secret!!!
Here in the land down under, we have many chocolates that (in terms of allergy status) are gluten free. There are also dairy-free 'milk-style' chocolates now available at virtually all supermarkets that often contain both soy flour and soy lecithin as well. Many of the commercially available dark chocolates are also dairy-free, but even these contain soy lecithin as an emulsifier. See the frustration here?? :?
My first experience with Amedei occurred some years back when I was searching for some high quality chocolate that did not contain soy. The venture of using the Internet to find chocolates that were safe for my soy-allergic friend back in 2010 proved to be far more challenging than I had anticipated.
Great for Cooking With
My discovery of Amedei
My discovery of Amedei first occurred approximately two (2) years ago when I was searching on various forums where users enquired about different brands of soy-free chocolate. At first, there seemed to be many! I tried out various brands like Cocolo, Vivani, Alter Eco, Enjoy Life and more. None of them satisfied my cravings and many of the white chocolate varieties tasted like that of sweetened condensed milk.
But, I did not give up! I tried some of the finer chocolates made by Michel Cluizel and Domori, and while the products were good I still found that the texture was slightly grainy for my liking. I also didn't like the fact that they used wheat on premises, and that the style seemed slightly old-fashioned. Being coeliac myself, I can understand how it feels when given foods that are second-rate. Moreover, I was after something I'd be willing to give to anyone - not just someone who had to avoid soy.
Amedei Products Available for Purchase
A dream come true...
From the beginning, as soon as I landed on the Amedei Homepage, I somehow knew I had 'struck the gold'! A combination of the professionalism of a sophisticated homepage, presentation of products, and the exquisite wording chosen to describe each item took me on a breath-taking journey to the factory. I felt like I was in another world!
Curiously I browsed around to see whether, by chance, their chocolates were completely gluten free as well. Unlike that of many other artisanal chocolate manufacturers, there was absolutely no mention wheat or gluten or soy in any of the products' ingredient listings or advisory statements. I later found out that all products manufactured in the facility are completely soya lecithin and gluten free!!!
I was completely ecstatic! There was no other way to describe it. I immediately placed an order with one of their distributors and bought a 50 gram bars of their Toscano White, Toscano Brown and Toscano Black 63% for sampling. The taste of each of them was astonishing, the shape being similar to that of the Lindt Excellence bars (which contain both barley and soy). Both the milk and white chocolate bars were very good, but I just simply couldn't get past how palatable their dark chocolate was. Seriously! The quality, taste and texture of their dark 63% Toscano Black bar was incredible. I don't think I've ever sampled such a palatable chocolate bar in my life! This bar was so acceptable in terms of texture, taste and presentation that I would have even happily consumed it in my childhood years! Had I never given tried their products, I would have never realised that dark chocolate could taste so pleasant, when really prepared properly. Not surprisingly, this very bar was also awarded gold prize in the Academy of Chocolate Awards in the UK last year as well, so the Judges must have liked it at least as much as I did. ;)
Amedei Easter Eggs
Celebrating Easter with Amedei
Of course, with the Easter season just around the corner, I decided to see if I could get some Amedei chocolate ordered for some friends of mine who are allergic to soy. Much to my surprise, while searching amongst different products from different distributors, I just so happened to see some Amedei Easter Eggs advertised on the Kings Fine Food website. I had someone enquire to make sure that they were both gluten and soy free and then immediately secured an order of a couple of baskets at £6.99 each which are now on their way to me. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I suspect the first Amedei Easter Egg Basket that lands in this country will be directed straight to my address. ;D
I expect they'll arrive in great condition, and taste as intended. I'm sure all my soy-free friends will enjoy them very much as well. :)