Chocolate is an experience and it's healthy if you do it right, say these choco inventors

You've eaten chocolate but have you really eaten chocolate?
Chocolate is an experience and it's healthy if you do it right, say these choco inventors
Chocolate is an experience and it's healthy if you do it right, say these choco inventors
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Who hasn’t tasted chocolate? Who doesn’t love chocolate? If there is a food for all moods and occasions, it is chocolate.

But the question, if you are a foodie or a chocolate lover, is have you really eaten chocolate?

Among the most popular choices from the exquisite menu at ITC’s luxury chocolate boutique Fabelle (open in most ITC hotels in India) is the ‘White chocolate cheesecake’ served in a glass jar over a sheet of chocolate. 

Image courtesy: Fabelle; Gianduja

Other options including the white chocolate ganache with Philadelphia cream cheese, Fabelle white chocolate, Elle et vice cream and sea salt are equally otherworldly.

GK Suresh, VP, New Category Development, ITC Foods lists a wide range of chocolate delicacies that they offer – from intricately crafted pralines inspired by the elements of nature to personalised chocolate cupcakes.

Of course, you can’t always afford to eat at such fancy places but experiencing such flawless indulgence does make you question the ‘everyday’ chocolate.

Is your chocolate healthy?

“Most chocolate in the market is nothing more than candy or a milky sweet. It is quite altered during the processing; there is no real appreciation of chocolate. If you are part of the bean to bar movement, you are among the few who recognise how fantastic real chocolate, made from bean with no addition and little alteration, is,” explains Jane Mason, co-founder of Auroville-based Mason & Co, whose artisan, single origin, organic chocolates have been making waves.

Jane and her husband Fabien also run a bread and chocolate cafe in Auroville, near Puducherry, where they serve artisan breads and chocolates. The menu includes chocolate granola with coconut milk and fresh fruit and sour dough toast topped with grated 75 per cent dark chocolate with olive oil, sea salt and honey.

“We also have vegan chocolate ice-cream, chocolate drinks and a range of truffles and bonbons. I am a big chocolate lover and I used to make chocolate when I lived in Indonesia. But after I moved to India I was unable to find preservative-free, milk-free and sugar-free chocolate. That’s when I started to make it on my own here and developed it into a business with my partner,” Jane explains.

Mason & Co’s artisan chocolates (including powders, infusions and cocoa nibs and spreads) are a significant part of the bean-to-bar chocolate movement, which is slowly gaining momentum in India.

The movement is also spearheaded by chocolatiers such as David Belo and Angelique of Earth Loaf, based out of Mysuru, and Cocoacraft Chocolate Factory (also a cafe) in Kerala. In fact, a significant part of cacao farming in India is spread across the Southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Chocolate as an experience

South India is home to some of the most unique chocolate experiences in India through its consistently popular chocolate cafes.

Bengaluru-based Jus’Trufs, which opened doors in 2001, is among those which offers a much-loved chocolate tour in its cafe premises in Jakkur.

“Most chocolate tours abroad don’t offer a real knowledge transfer. Our tour helps participants understand what fine chocolate is and how the bean is transformed into chocolate. Participants experience the process of tasting and tempering,” describes chocolatier and founder, Jus’Trufs, Chenddyna Schae.

Chenddyna is also a firm believer in the bean to bar movement.

“Our chocolates are made fresh every day and contain no preservatives. We have also been gradually reducing the sugar levels in our chocolates. Even our milk chocolates contain only 30 per cent sugar, while commercial chocolates are made with 50 per cent sugar.”

Image courtesy: Jus'Trufs; Sea salt and chilli chocolate.

Apart from the classic ganache experiences (dark and milk), Jus’Trufs offers interesting flavour combinations; everything from sea salt and chilli to blue cheese and vinegar truffles. It also offers artisan chocolate.

“Cocoa is healthy, it’s the sugar that ruins it,” she maintains. “That’s why artisanal chocolate is great because it’s made from dark chocolate. If you have just a little, it can even kill your sugar craving! You can also add it to your fitness regime. People have misconceptions that chocolate is unhealthy. But it’s the sugar that makes it unhealthy. Today, I see even children are beginning to enjoy dark chocolate.”

But she believes there’s a long way to go before artisanal chocolate takes over because of the costs involved - the bean to bar movement usually includes single-origin, organic chocolate, which is still grown only in pockets of the country.

Chocolate inventions

Further down South, back in Puducherry, Zuka (choco-la-te cafe) has been a steady solace for chocolate connoisseurs for the last 15 years. They opened a cafe in Chennai last year, offering their signature classics — the chocolate pakoda (milk, white and dark) and the ’54 degrees Celsius hot chocolate’ complete with a chocolate spoon.

“The ’54 degree Celsius hot chocolate’ is very popular in Puducherry, but in Chennai, people seem to love our ‘Dark n Dense hot chocolate’ more. Our latest offering is ‘The chocolate sensation’, an eggless cake made with dark chocolate. We are now working closely on using natural sweeteners in our chocolate,” says founder Srinath Balachandran, who has trained in chocolate-making in France.

Zuka’s flavour combinations vary from classics like hazelnut and chocolate to orange and coffee infusions to edgy saffron and turmeric. They are experimenting with combinations of natural coconut and dark chocolate.

Image courtesy: Zuka; Chocolate Serendipity

“At Puducherry, we work on customised ganaches, pralines, and organic chocolates. We also undertake orders for weddings. Every year the chocolate industry has been offering something new and over the last one-year, we have seen a lot of people wanting chocolate infusions, single origin chocolate and dark chocolate.”

They are now working on getting cocoa beans from farmers in South India

“I am deeply interested in bean to mould chocolate. The best part about it is that you can infuse Indian spices and people are now open towards experimenting with chocolate. But the movement will take more time because of the prices. It has a niche clientele.”

Srinath’s vision for Zuka is clear: “We want to be a one stop shop for all kinds of chocolate. The idea is to promote Indian chocolates. I hope in the next few years we have a separate batch of chocolates from India.”

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