Saturday, July 16, 2011

German Chocolate: Leysieffer Elderflower Dark Chocolate (Holunderblüten Schokolade)

100g bar
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, elderflower extract

Leysieffer is one of those brands I mentioned in this post that has its own shops, and I saw a few of them in various cities. Unbeknownst to me, the place where I finally bought several bars, an off-the-tourist-path, small city called Osnabrück, is also the place where Leysieffer began in 1909 (though they didn't begin working extensively with chocolate until 1936), and the production facility sits outside the city today. The history isn't all that interesting, mostly for the pretty positive reason that Leysieffer is still owned by the family that started the company; it just grew and developed. At this time there are 16 chocolate shops and six “bistros” as well as a lot of “partner shops” that I'm guessing sell Leysieffer products along with other brands.

What made Leysieffer so exciting to me is that it uses all sorts of interesting flavors and inclusions, like Darjeeling tea, poppyseed, and ground black pepper. Unfortunately only a few plain bars are verydark, so I compromised and bought several super-keen flavors in Leysieffer's 55% cacao dark chocolate base. I'll review them over the next few weeks with an eye toward how well their unusual flavorings work in chocolate.

Today's bar is Elderflower (Holunderblüten). You may or may not have tasted elderflower before, as it's not used much in the U.S., but it's not uncommon in parts of Europe, and on a walk in Germany I was able to smell a cluster of the tiny flowers on a nearby tree. (Note: Elderflowers come from the same plant as elderberries, which are also found in various food preparations. If you're looking for the flavor I'm discussing here, make sure you've found the flower!) How to describe it...well, I bought a bottle of “elderflower drink concentrate” from Ikea a while back, on a whim. That syrup also includes sugar and citric acid, but aside from the sweet-sour flavor of those two, the syrup has a lovely floral fragrance that isn't super-perfumy like rose but more light and refreshing, an easy match for candy.

On to the chocolate. It sure doesn't smell like anything aside from chocolate, but it tastes quite nice! For starters, Leysieffer's dark chocolate base is very mild, sweet but not too sweet, more waxy than chalky—not interesting on its own, but a good match for delicate flavors like elderflower. The elderflower is a great addition...I keep wanting to use words like nice, lovely, and delightful, which indicate a sweet, refreshing, light treat, nothing challenging or cloying.

As in the syrup I own, the elderflower works well in something sweet, which makes the flavor more than just flowery. Can you imagine a sugar-free strawberry, peach, or cantaloupe? Sweetness helps luscious fragrance become fruity flavor, and I think it really contributes to what elderflower does when combined with chocolate.

Leysieffer's 55% dark chocolate conclusion: Mild, not overwhelming in any way; a good base for light flavorings.

Elderflower + chocolate conclusion: If used well—not too much, not too little, in the right base—elderflower is floral, light, and refreshing in chocolate.


  1. I've been thinking quite a bit about elderberries lately, and what I could do with them. Not elderflowers so much, as they wouldn't transport as well, and many have finished blooming around here. But perhaps when next year rolls around, I could look to incorporate some of the flowers with some chocolate. I like this pairing!

  2. I'll admit I don't know much about elderberries, though I might have had them in some German cough drops. Have you decided what to do with them?

  3. Ooh, I definitely wouldn't want to make cough drops. Unfortunately I missed the flowers, and haven't ended up picking any berries. I put that on hold in favor of picking copious amounts of wild blueberries! Much tastier and easier to know what to do with:)