Top chocolate trends
With Easter on the horizon, most of us are thinking of chocolate at present. So, no prizes for guessing that this week it's all about chocolate!
What have been some of the top chocolate trends in recent years? Interestingly Crowdsourced Chocolate has been hot. It goes by many names: mash-up, personalization, customization, but it comes down to a mix and match (sometimes MISmatch) of ingredients. Social media has had its fingers in the mixing bowl too. Read more .....
This trend combines all the worries of the world and solves them with chocolate. Locally sourced. Green. Pure. Healthy. Artisan. Premium. DIY. When you make your own craft chocolates, you can, well, craft anything you want out of anything you want.
Nutella has been around for ages, but apart from Nutella pizza and as a spread on slices of bread, people pretty much left it there. Not any more!
Chocolate speaks all languages as you'll see later, on this page (as we find the world's top chocolate cities and destinations) and it pops up in everything from mains to dessert (of course!) and snacks in many countries. Try to imagine what the pre-Columbus world without chocolate was like!
Read more on The Food Channel.....
A chocolate outfit!
Do not attempt to wash this dress! Travel-writer Tim Richards talks about his chocolate-coated travels on his blog and also discloses where he saw this unusual 'garment'.
A different sort of orange drink
Chocolate is a must for kids at Easter - but adults are permitted to indulge in something slightly more grown up. Demijohn’s liquid alcoholic chocolate comes in a suitably egg-shaped bottle. Quite simply, it is the perfect adult liquid Easter egg - Chocolate Orange Cream Liqueur.
Combining a subtle blend of dark chocolate, real Devonshire cream, apple brandy and the zest of an orange, this rich, creamy liqueur from liquid deli Demijohn will blow your mind on Easter Day. Made by a retired stockbroker in Devon it contains all that is wonderful about Easter – and in a drink! Best served straight from the fridge with a little ice, it can also be an indulgent sauce for ice cream or other puddings.
Demijohn’s Angus Ferguson says: "Our Chocolate Orange Cream Liqueur certainly hits the spot and revives any adult who may have had their fill of hyperactive children who’ve gorged on Easter eggs.”
Demijohn’s Chocolate Orange Easter egg is called A Chocolate Orange with a Difference and is available to purchase online. Find out more.....
Supersized Ferraro Rocher!
Thank you to Sugar Hero for sharing this amazing creation! Find out how to make this......
Cake layers in the middle, coated in nutty chocolate. Wow!
Chocolate in Victoria
If you are visiting Melbourne, Mámor Chocolates & High Tea Szalón in inner-city Collingwood has launched new Melbourne Chocolate History Tours, taking visitors back into Melbourne’s cocoa-rich past on a two hour walk through the secret chocolate laneways of Fitzroy and Collingwood. The tour traces the humble beginnings of Macpherson Robertson ‘the Chocolate King of Victoria’ through to his huge chocolate factories, which went on to produce favourites like Cherry Ripe, Old Gold and the much loved Freddo Frog, as well as other famous chocolatiers along the way. The tour concludes with a spectacularly indulgent Chocolate Tasting and High Tea at the Mámor Szalón. Tours run on the first Sunday of every month and cost $55. For something different, Mámor also hosts ‘Last Friday’ beer and chocolate pairing experiences and events
...there are also a lot of chocolate-y goings on in rural Victoria. A visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is a great day out for the whole family. Located just a one hour drive from Melbourne’s city centre, here visitors can see chocolatiers at work and enjoy free tastings. There are over 250 varieties on offer, made using local Yarra Valley fruit and nuts, some grown on site. There is a cafe, shop and plenty of space for the kids to play in the orchard. Open seven days, 35 Old Healesville Road, Yarra Glen.
In Victoria's High Country near the NSW border, former brick stables were lovingly refurbished in 2013 to provide a home for Bright Chocolate situated alongside the Ovens River, three-and-a-half hours from Melbourne. Single origin bars are the specialty, made using premium cacao beans from Madagascar, Ecuador, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic. Open every day, with a special behind-the-scenes tour on Fridays at 2pm. Bookings for the tour are essential. 8/3 Riverside Avenue, Bright.
Red Chocolate, located in Sale, Gippsland, two-and-a-half hours from Melbourne, sells indulgent chocolates and patisserie items made in small batches, using traditional techniques. Intimate classes are held on the first Friday of each month giving visitors the opportunity to try their hand at the art of chocolate-making. Classes cost $150 and are limited to four participants. Bookings are essential. Shop 3, 64 Cunninghame Street, Sale.
Read more about other sweet spots in Victoria......
Australia's own home-grouwn chocolate
Did you know that until recently, all chocolate sold in Australia was made from cocoa grown overseas? Daintree Estates is the first commercial manufacturer in history to make chocolate using cocoa grown right here in Australia. Daintree Estates is also one of a small handful of Plantation to Plate cocoa producers, meaning they have total control over every stage of processing, and it shows in the final taste of the chocolate.
At Sweet Farm Tours, you'll not only hear and see the story directly from one of the first commercial cocoa growers in Australia, but you'll get to taste this amazing Australian-grown chocolate for yourself. You're in for a (sweet) treat!
Australia’s first public cocoa farm tour has opened its gates to welcome visitors to learn about and sample the delicious treat. Sweet Farm Tours, located north of Port Douglas, now offers cocoa and sugarcane tours giving visitors the opportunity to see the crops growing, find out when and how they are harvested and how sugar and cocoa are grown and processed.
Your journey includes:
Personalised farmer-guided tour through a working cocoa and sugarcane farm.
Visitor Centre entry showcasing the Australian cocoa and sugarcane processing from Estate to Plate.
Movie viewing from a unique outdoor theatre area overlooking the beautiful Whyanbeel Valley river located on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest.
Complimentary Australian-origin chocolate tastings.
More details about Daintree Estates......
Celebrate chocolate this week!
If you happen to be in the UK in the next few days you can take part in the Festival of Chocolate. What could be sweeter?
You can now find it at the Business Design Centre in London where the festival runs for three delicious days from March 27-29. Sample and buy from the country’s top artisan chocolatiers.
A world of multi-sensory and chocolatey thrills awaits within the comfort of the new indoor venues.
The Taste Zone with Seventy%: Thrill your taste buds on a journey of discovery guided by world renowned chocolate expert Martin Christy.
The Chocolate Café: Kick back and relax with your friends while you sip the creamiest hot chocolate.
The Direct Cacao Zone: Learn all about directly sourced chocolates.
The Health Trail: Try delicious Free-from and Raw chocolate and discover its many surprising health benefits.
The Chocolate Market: Discover Britain’s top artisan chocolate companies all conveniently showcased under one roof.
The Cocoa Spa: Soothe your senses with luxurious cocoa butter beauty treatments.
Christmas Livingstone has 10 rules for happiness. Nurturing the senses every day, doing what you love, and sharing joy with others are some of the rules, but the most important for her is number 10 - 'Absolutely no romantic relationships'.
Her life is good. In her enchantingly seductive shop, The Chocolate Apothecary, she tempers chocolate and creates handmade pieces; her friends and family surround her; and her secret life of wish-granting brings joy to herself and others. She doesn't need a handsome botanist ace who knows everything about cacao to walk into her life. One who has the nicest grandmother, intent on interfering, who's adopted a gorgeous rescue dog, and who needs her help to write a book on her passion, chocolate. She really doesn't need any of that at all.
Or does she?
Set across Tasmania, Paris and Provence, this is a glorious novel of a creative woman about to find out how far in life a list of rules will take her, with an enticing tangle of freshly picked herbs, pots of flowers, and delicious chocolate scenting the background.
This brand-new paperback, from Josephone Moon and published by Allen & Unwin will have you reaching for chocolates before too long.
Designer chocolates as delicious as they look
Decadently indulgent, these chocolates are from an artisan chocolatier in Sydney, Winnow Chocolates, which uses only the world’s finest ingredients with organic, fair-trade couverture chocolate providing the perfect base for locally-sourced fruits, nuts and spices. Winnow's flavours are inspired by travel throughout Africa, Europe and Asia, all of which combine to create a unique sensory experience. All Winnow’s packaging is designed in house and produced in Australia.
Sustainability is an important aspect of the production and the owners try to support local growers and producers where possible. The traditional technique of hand-tempering on marble is celebrated at Winnow and ensures that each chocolate is made with love, and waste is kept to a minimum.
Winnow Chocolates are gluten-free, organic and without artificial additives and preservatives. All are dairy-free and vegan. The company offers custom-made chocolates for weddings, events, and corporate gifts as well as bespoke flavour combinations and chocolate designs.
Interesting fact: The name Winnow is derived from an essential part of the chocolate-making process during which a winnowing machine is used to remove the outer husk from the cocoa beans. The winnowing machine cracks the roasted cocoa beans into pieces of cocoa meat and husk, blowing and discarding the outer husk, and leaving what are known as cocoa nibs. The nibs are then ready to continue on their journey to becoming couverture chocolate.
Read more here.........
....and if you like donuts, salted caramel and Nutella, see here. (Nothing to do with Winnow, but is from the same blog in the last link!)
Adriano Zumbo's name has become synonymous in Sydney (and many other parts of the world) for the epitome of skill in pastries and all things sweet and delicious.
For his third cookbook, oublished by Murdoch Books, top Sydney pastry chef Adriano Zumbo recreates some of the classic desserts we all grew up drooling over. As well as offering up his favourite recipes for these confections, he applies his Willy Wonka-esque genius to whipping each classic into a completely new and contemporary incarnation that plays on the original recipe.
As always, the colours are bright, the flavours unexpected, and the experience of recreating the fruits of his fertile imagination a complete delight. Each chapter focuses on a particular type of patisserie and the recipes in that chapter explore and experiment with different tastes, flavours, textures and colours. There are step- by-step instructions for the basic recipe for each patisserie type, then the recipes that follow are dazzling variations on that theme.
Perhaps not for the beginner cooks in the family, as some desserts have seven or eight separate process which combine to create a sublime, albeit time-consuming result. It is a book that, with Brett Stevens' wonderful photographs, is as beautiful as the dishes themselves.
Eco-friendly and absolutely delicious
A letter from the founders, Edouard and Mathieu:
Dear loyal customers, Alter Eco is based on the premise that food is fundamental to life – and whole, healthy, delicious food can make life better for people all over the world. By working directly with the small-scale farmers who grow our quinoa, rice, sugar and cacao, helping them institute Fair Trade and Organic practices and assisting them in improving both quality of food and quality of life, we’re creating a system that benefits everyone involved. Our values extend to the flora, fauna and fields – we work with our co-op partners to preserve heirloom grains, replenish and reforest the land. And as a GHG Protocol 3 Carbon Zero business, we offset more carbon than we emit."
This is a company that takes its job seriously. But not so seriously that it can't make some truly wonderful and fun chocolates. Using what they describe as the 'dark delicacies of Peru and Ecuador' they explain how the cacao beans have been plucked from organic trees in the Peruvian Amazon and Ecuadorian Coast before making the journey to the base of the Andes Mountains, where they are transformed into some of the world’s finest cocoa products. The final destination is Switzerland, where expert chocolatiers craft these unique and habit-forming bars and truffles.
HINT: Do try the dark salted brown butter version!
The world's top 10 chocolate cities
#8 America will never disappoint you if you wish to have chocolates. While in San Francisco, explore its Bay area that is mostly thronged by chocolate lovers. Why? Because it is the home of an old American chocolate producer and best chocolate shops in New York. Above all, the must visit place here is the Ghirardelli Square with a rich chocolate history.
#7 The Mesoamerican city of Oaxaca is surely a must to visit for all those who are crazy about chocolates. Here, incredibly, chocolate forms a vital part of the local culture and tradition. Just being on its streets you will be welcomed with some form of chocolate – pastry or candy. More surprisingly, even in this time of technology, the people of Oaxaca produce chocolates traditionally by implementing ancient handmade recipes. Do not miss a visit to the street 20 de Noviembre – the home of the largest producers like Moyordomo, La Soledad, and Guelaguetza.
Read about the others here.....
The world's top ten chocolate destinations
#10 Cologne, Germany The chocolate capital of Germany, Cologne is the home of the Stollwerck chocolate company, which in its prime was the second largest supplier of chocolate to the United States. For the 150th anniversary of the company a museum exhibit was created to celebrate their history. Since then, the exhibit has grown into an entire museum. The Imhoff Stollwerck museum also known locally as the chocolate museum celebrates the history of chocolate around the world, and has interactive exhibits, samples and a giant chocolate fountain.
Best Chocolate Shops in Cologne:
While the chocolate museum does produce chocolate, it does so purely for demonstration purposes, the product of which can be sampled at the café or bought at the chocolate shop. The Stollwerck chocolate available in stores comes from eight different production plants located in Germany., Belgium, and Switzerland (look for the Sarotti, Sprengel, Gubor, Alpia, or Stollwerck brands). Other chocolate shops are La Maison du Chocolate, Tortchen Tortchen, Weibler Confectionery, Demnitz Chocolaterie, Mama Chocolate and Leonidas Chocolates.
#9 Tain L’Hermtage A small French town in the heart of wine country, and only a short drive from Lyon, Tain L’Hermitage is the home of the world-renowned chocolate producer, Valrhona. A great stop is the Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolat, a school that teaches professional chefs, chocolatiers and caterers. They even host a three-day course that teaches amateurs how to make decadent desserts. (Their website also includes recipes, including the cake - pictured above.)
To discover the other eight top destinations ......