I often buy chocolate, but not this kind of chocolate. It arrived, regally. In a thick brown paper envelope with a branded stamp, the face of a cartoon boy. I have since learnt that his name is ‘Bashful Tompkins’, the kooky mascot of the Cardiff based, Heist Chocolate. Within the envelope, is another brown paper package. It is sewn at the top with white cotton, like a perfectly crafted Italian handbag. In the chunky yet elegant parcel, lies the chocolate. The design itself is a spectacle. It reminds me of the adorable animations used at drive-in movie intermissions in the 1950s. It’s achingly cool. Is this what the inside of a hipster’s brain looks like? Maybe. In tow with the packaging, was a postcard with a handwritten thank-you note. A warm and welcome interaction during lockdown.
The chocolate bar dances joyfully in front of the sun and a spillage of milk. The flavour is called, “Saturday Morning Cereal Milk”. You may have heard of the flavour, cereal milk before. It gained cult status when chef Christina Tosi showcased it at Milk Bar and Momofuku in New York in 2008. More than just iconic, the flavour is a nostalgic reminder for many. For me, it’s waiting for the milk in my bowl to infuse with wheat and sugar to devour before running for the school bus.
Heist Chocolate was started by Mikey Lewis in 2016. He notes on the Heist website that it actually started when he was 7 years old and sent to the doctors for a chocolate addiction. Addiction aside, this is the kind of guy I want to buy chocolate from. Based in Wales, independent and clearly passionate. Since Nom Nom Chocolate seized trading, I have longed for an independent Welsh chocolate maker to buy from that experiments with interesting flavours. It looks like, Heist might just be it.
The experience of receiving Heist Chocolate alone is special, the packaging itself is a gift, the chocolate, a bonus. When you head beyond the beautiful tan paper packaging, carefully opening the stitches of cotton, is a golden wrapper. It makes me feel like the Welsh Charlie Bucket.
I read online that the chocolate is best enjoyed one square at a time. Before I read that, I absolutely did not consume it in that fashion. However, when I return to eat it, one square at a time, I prefer it. It allows me to focus on the complexity of the flavours. As the chocolate melts, sea salt pirouettes on the surface of my tongue. Is this what it tastes like to have will power or is the chocolate just that interesting?
The chocolate isn’t as pale as your average white chocolate. It is saturated in yellow, a pint of milk with a mountain of custard powder in it, ready to be stirred. It is thick, thicker than most chocolate bars I have eaten. Perhaps that’s because it’s hand made and is stone ground. Whatever the reason, I like it. It feels chunky, thick like my iPhone 8+. You can see why it is packaged in such a large envelope now. It’s as if the envelope is a protective phone case and the chocolate bar is the smartphone. It doesn’t taste like plastic as do many other white chocolate bars, thankfully. I am surprised to find that there are no cornflake pieces in the chocolate, but the taste is present. Towards the end of consumption, a malty taste appears. It’s the kind of wheat like taste that I search for, to work out whether a food has wheat in it or not for my mother who is coeliac.
This chocolate is unlike any I have consumed before. I like that it’s handcrafted, chunky, not at all rough around the edges but clearly not made by a machine. I think if it was to resemble true cereal milk, it would be lighter in colour, and perhaps have notes of marshmallow or a sour taste to it, to taste more conventionally ‘milky’. But then again, to to summarize or describe that flavour, would depend on the kind of milk that you enjoy using. The flavour is distinctive, and something that I would prefer to savour than eat in a large quantity to appreciate as much as possible.
Heist Chocolate is continuously selling out online, and rightly so. They are stocked across the UK, and from what I’ve seen on Instagram, are indeed a hipster’s delight. It’s great to see a Cardiff based chocolatier having a great deal of success and I hope it long continues. I will certainly keep the envelope that the chocolate comes in, I sort of want to keep sunglasses in it, it’s that kind of chunky. As for the chocolate, I look forward to seeing and tasting what they do next!