Chocolate connoisseurs in the city couldn’t have asked for more this Valentine’s Day. Mumbai chocolatiers are fast crossing over into the world of artisan chocolate. Though it may be a while before they dish out bacon or lemongrass chocolates, they are surely getting there.
Distinguished by the fact that they’re handmade with carefully chosen ingredients, artisan chocolates are pushing towards a couture evolution.
Devi Shah, the creative hand behind Red Head Bee chocolates, has been experimenting with chocolate for some years now. Though not professionally trained, her trial and error methods have proven to be enough to teach this chocolatier what works and what doesn’t. “My family members are the scapegoats whose advice I seek,” laughs Shah. “And they have to bear the brunt of my experiments.”
While her personalised chocolate slabs and biscuit chocolates are very popular, Shah’s fete extraordinaire is the chilli ginger chocolate. A spicy concoction that balances the sweetness of chocolate with the pungent flavours of chilli and ginger, the chocolates took customers some getting used to. But now they are a big hit, thanks to their novelty value. “I tried it with sugar-coated ginger that we find in the market,” Shah explains. “After figuring out the right proportions, I realised that they were quite delicious.”
Ginger and honey
Cordon Bleu alumnus
Aadore Sayani runs Sleight of Hand where she whips up brownies in unimaginable medleys. Her chocolates are also in high demand, especially the chocolate-coated coffee beans that give her a unique edge. “We also make chocolate using orange rinds and other off-beat flavouring,” says Sayani. “People are open to experimenting now and they are willing to take a chance on a strange combination.” Case in point — her green tea brownies that are selling like hot cakes. “The great thing about this business is that chocolate never decreases in popularity, so we will always have willing customers.”
At Taj Land’s End, Executive Pastry Chef Rohit Sangwan is busy putting the finishing touches on his pink champagne chocolate truffles. Handcrafted with a heart of pink champagne, these truffles are made from single origin Venezuelan chocolate. “What distinguishes the truffle from any other chocolate variety is that it is 10 per cent chocolate and 90 per cent filling.” Sangwan points out. “But since we use fresh ingredients, the shelf life also reduces considerably.”
He has also experimented with blue cheese and olive oil when making the ganache for the truffles. “The blue cheese offers a slightly pungent taste to the chocolate. And in fact, olive oil is better than cocoa butter because it doesn’t solidify at room temperature.. so the chocolate remains soft.” he opines.
Despite the current financial state, Sangwan finds that people are willing to try out expensive varieties of chocolates. He asserts, “The tastes of the population is changing and they are becoming more customised. And who wouldn’t want that melt-in-your-mouth feeling?”