The pure, unadulterated taste of authentic cocoa is slated to become the latest confectionery trend among chocolate connoisseurs seeking new, authentic cocoa flavors.
That's one of the trends being spotted at the largest sweets and biscuits fair in Cologne, Germany, where more than 1,400 exhibitors have gathered to show off the latest in new confectionery products.
Just as dark chocolate has experienced exponential growth over the last few years, serious chocoholics are turning their attention towards pure, minimally processed chocolate for a refined experience that brings them closer to cacao in its natural state, say trendspotters from the show.
One of the pioneers in this area is luxury Swiss chocolate brand Barry Callebaut, who last year launched what's been billed as the purest chocolate ever created.
Its award-winning Terra Cacao is described as a top-quality cocoa of unprecedented purity, with zero defects and off-flavors thanks to a new, all-natural fermentation technique that unlocks only desired flavors and aromas.
Like wine, consumers are also increasingly interested in chocolate's provenance and ‘terroir,' a concept that was also highlighted at last year's Speciality Chocolate Fair in London.
For example, because Ecuadorian chocolate is grown under banana and mango trees, chocolate from that country takes on the same notes, said British chocolatier Paul Young in an interview with Relaxnews at the time.
Madagascan chocolate, meanwhile, is highly acidic and pairs well with red fruit -- important factors when developing a new flavor pairing.
Meanwhile, on another spectrum, chocolate makers are also spicing things up with the exotic flavors of cinnamon and pepper, in the same yin and yang way that sea salt is used to offset the sweetness of caramel.
US-based premium chocolate maker Madécasse, for example, will be launching a range of new spice-infused flavors including Cinnamon and Sakay, a traditional blend of hot chili peppers used in Madagascan kitchens, as well as Exotic Pepper and Pink Pepper & Citrus.
Other unexpected flavor combinations include turnips and carrots enrobed in white chocolate, aloe vera-flavored chocolate, and protein-rich alga-cranberry chocolate, all by German chocolate maker Buecker's Backhaus.
Turning vegetables into desserts is predicted to become a major food trend for 2012 by the US-based Center for Culinary Development, which pointed out that innovative pastry chefs are moving beyond carrot cake and zucchini bread to create desserts that highlight the sweetness of veggies, rather than mask them under a veil of frosting.
The 42nd annual International Sweets and Biscuits Fair in Cologne, Germany kicked off January 29 and wraps up February 1.