Crombie's butcher, with examples of their finest haggis, at his shop in Broughton Street, Edinburgh. Photograph: Murdo Macleod
Haggis has been deep fried, smothered in whisky cream and rolled in oats but now the great chieftain o' the puddin' race has undergone the final indignity: it has been made into chocolate.
Whether Robert Burns's Rustic, who set the earth "trembling" with his "haggis-fed tred", would have had the same seismic force had his dinner been rolled into delicate, truffle-shaped balls can only be surmised. But Nadia Ellingham, an artisan chocolate maker from Edinburgh, is prepared to bet that, had the poet tasted her variation on Scotland's national dish, he would have raised a toast in its honour.
"Most people screw their faces up or look a bit horrified when I tell them I make haggis chocolates, but once I explain how I make them they understand that it does actually make sense," said Ellingham, founder of the Thinking Chocolate firm.
Ellingham created the chocolates for a Burns' Night supper but her guests were so complimentary that she has started selling them commercially.
Perhaps judging that chocolate lovers would be less than keen to see their favourite ingredient blended with the traditional sheep's liver, heart, lung and suet, Ellingham does not use offal in the truffles. Instead, she recreates the flavour of haggis by combining nutmeg, mace, black pepper and oatmeal.
"I scoured around lots of haggis recipes to find a lot of the common ingredients," she said. "I filtered it down and came up with the ingredients that come up most often, eliminated the offal aspect of the dish, did some recipe development and it went from there."
Joe McGirr, of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society, which has arranged a number of tastings involving Ellingham's chocolates, – others include sundried tomato and basil, cranberry and chestnut, and thyme and orange truffles – said: "The haggis chocolate was amazing. You're expecting it to be awful but then you put it in your mouth and you get all these fantastic spice flavours that make up a haggis."
Yum Yum Haggis and Chocolate, two of my favourites.