October 27 2010
This year, like every other, two things will top my father’s Christmas list: dates, and dark chocolate. At 80, he’s a man of few wants and simple tastes. Come November, my siblings and I will embark on our annual quest to outdo one another with the exoticism of our dates and the rarity of our Swiss dark chocolate. But this year, I believe I have found the Holy Grail in one sublime gift that combines the two.
Grounds for my claim lie in the handmade Mejewel dates by the wonderful chocolate-maker Chococru. Succulent dates are set in an individual crisp dark chocolate shell filled with a blend of fruits, nuts, spices and essential oils. With their curious toppings, they look less like dates than strange forest creatures hatching from a pod. My favourites are the rose Mejewels (second picture): a blend of almonds, coconut and a rare damask oil that apparently costs £100 a teaspoon. These are decorated with dried roses, whose outer leaves are edible. Other decorative toppings include gold-dusted sesame seeds, Iranian pistachios, and 24ct gold leaf. (Also shown, third picture: citrus orange, orange blossom and sweet almond.) The name Mejewel, incidentally, is a play on the medjool dates, traditionally reserved for royalty, which are used by Chococru.
Chococru is run by former pharmacist, nutritionist and avowed chocoholic Maria Constantinou, who sells them exclusively through Selfridges and online; as well as being thoroughly delicious, the dates are rich in healthy antioxidants.
Even in their natural form, dates are surely one of nature’s truly luscious fruits. But when Chococru fills them with this luscious mix and cups them in dark chocolate, they are taken to another level. Come Boxing Day, I fully expect my siblings to have been disinherited and that I shall have become the sole beneficiary of my father’s treasured tool box and his coin collection.
£29.99 for a box of 12.