Success is Sweet for the Master of the Craft

Erin McDermott talks to Iain Burnett, a truffle specialist who, thanks to his popular produce, is now known as the Highland Chocolatier…

This month’s maker is master chocolatier Iain Burnett, a specialist whose truffle has received over 50 awards and has twice been awarded the Best Truffle in the World…

Based in Highland Perthshire, chatting to Iain about his chocolate flavours and creations, his infectious passion for his craft is instantly evident.

Originally from the Isle of Mull, Iain opened his famous chocolate shop in 2005. The positioning of the store was strategic in that some of the best UK dairies were just two valleys away, and most of Scotland’s Michelin star chefs were within a 50-mile radius.

His world-renowned Velvet Truffle took three years and 120 variations of recipe and techniques to master.

His client list extends to royalty, hoteliers, chefs, and visitors from all over the world.

Only a few weeks ago at the International Chocolate Awards, Iain admits the team took home 10 awards winning every category for ganache and truffles.

In December’s Hogmanay Highland Fling WeeBox, you will find a sample of Iain’s artisan gourmet flaked hot chocolate. As a master chocolatier, Iain loves the science behind the process of creating flavours. He said “A typical supermarket powder hot chocolate has pretty much had all the cocoa butter ripped out of it, and you’re basically left with the grit from the ground beans.

The difference between that and a real hot chocolate is the conching of the chocolate. Rough grinding leads to cocoa powder, but if you conch you’re basically using water-cooled rollers to really finely grind – almost like grinding a paste.

The flaked hot chocolate in the WeeBox is a combination of cocoa mass and cocoa butter so it has the creaminess to it, but it’s also been conched making it very smooth.”

When you feel like getting snug at home and curling up with your mug of Highland Chocolatier hot chocolate there’s a method you can use to evoke the full creamy flavour. Iain suggests: “The best thing to do with the hot chocolate is to put in the dark chocolate, then boil the milk, and if you can, mix it with a bladed mixer.

“When you blend it this way you break up the coco particles and they absorb more of the milk to give you a thicker hot chocolate. You can use it with plant-based milk also.”

Iain and his team never use any additives or preservatives within products, such as glucose or any of the sugars or fats that other chocolatiers tend to infuse. He says: “You just get a better flavour without it, and you taste more when you have good, simple ingredients.”

Iain’s Audio-Guided Chocolate Tasting Flight can be shipped to North America for those looking to experience a journey of flavours, textures and skills, and the official best dark truffle in the world.