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There is no denying the magic that lies in a simple bar of chocolate. And in the hands of the right chocolate maker, or chocolatier as is the right term, the pure artistry and craft that goes into it, can take it from delicious to divine.
At MAAL GAADi we recently stocked up on a variety of decadent chocolate bars by four Indian brands of artisanal chocolates – Earth Loaf, Bean Therapy, Mason & Co. and Vivanda. And with so much variety on display, we called in an expert to help take our patrons through what makes each of the chocolate brands, (and each of the chocolate bars by each of the brands) tick.
Enter L Nitin Chordia, the Chief Tasting Officer of Cocoatrait, a chocolate tasting club whose aim and passion is to bring fine chocolate the audience and the appreciation it deserves. Cocoatrail by Cocoatrait is a curated experience that takes you through the stories behind a series of handpicked chocolate bar, to help audiences taste, appreciate and understand the distinguishing features between these handpicked chocolate bars.
Most of us are used to classifying chocolates on the basis of white, milk, dark, artisanal, luxury, guilty pleasures, impulse buys, treats and so on and so forth, but to Nitin, chocolates can be classified on the basis of the story it has to say.
And so at the Cocoatrail at MAAL GAADi, he formed a narrative choosing ten bars of chocolate by the four brands on display at the store, taking us through the finer details of what sets each of the bars apart, in the form of a story.
Origin – where are you from?
Every memory is accompanied by a taste, a smell, a feeling. Similarly, some chocolates are accompanied by a memory – a memory of where its cocoa bean come from – that lingers in the bean, and on your palate, long after you have savoured it.
For example, the beans used in the chocolates by Mason & Co. and Earth Loaf are single origin Indian beans, leaving a memory of rich earthiness and dark pleasures, unique to its Indian origin. And the chocolates by Bean Therapy for example, are blended beans procured from a variety of equatorial sources, to find a unique blend that leaves a memory of smooth tranquillity.
Country – where have you been?
A chocolate bar can also speak in its own tongue with its own accent and inflections, speaking of its journey as a whole, and that’s due to where the bean is procured from as well as where it’s processed.
Chocolates by Mason & Co. and Earth Loaf, for example, are locally sourced and processed from bean to bar, helping retain that earthy quality of the Indian bean to its fullest.
Chocolates by Vivanda and Bean Therapy on the other hand, source the tried, tested and delicious French and Belgian cocoa, with their smooth and bold tastes respectively and pair them in fresh and interesting ways.
Percentage – how dark can you get?
The darker the chocolate the more heavenly it tastes. “% dark” in a chocolate refers to how much of chocolate there is in a bar (because most of the remaining ingredients is usually just sugar!) Our set of chocolates ranged from cocoa percentages of 54%, 55%, 62%, 64% to 70% and 72%, measured down to a science and paired appropriately.
But how big a difference can there be between a 70% and a 72% right? Wrong. To a chocolatier, a 70% dark bar of chocolate may call for a pairing with sea salt for a lusciously dark taste, and a 72% dark bar of chocolate may call for a pairing with apricot, using that extra bit of dark chocolate to retain the dark cocoa taste, through the sweetness of the apricot.
But some brands are consistent with their percentage of cocoa. The health-conscious Earth Loaf, maintains a 72% at all times. And Bean Therapy sticks to a modest 54% & 62% while experimenting with pairings like Himalayan rock salt, Lonavala, chikki, Watapi coffee and pepper with mango.
Organic – how healthy can you get?
Another defining feature in the story is the kind of sugar used, which varies from palm sugar to beet sugar to cane sugar. Every bar by Earth Loaf strictly uses palm sugar to maintain its raw and healthy taste and disposition, all Belgian chocolates use beet sugar, and Mason & Co. uses cane sugar in their chocolates.
Packaging – how pretty can you get?
Every chocolate comes in a cover that’s as beautiful as the story it has to tell, wrapped in thick handmade paper and cardboard. Every cover reflects the artistry that goes into each chocolate.
The chocolate by Mason & Co. comes in a slick box that mirrors its continental ancestry, with the artisanal touch of brown paper. Chocolates by Vivanda come in sharp old fashioned cardboard, with illustrations and typefaces to fit the theme. Bean Therapy packages its exotically paired chocolate in prints of paisleys and florals. And Earth Loaf wraps its chocolate in thin printed paper, organic and rough around the edges, yet ever so divine./p>
So come by and pick up a bar. Be it from Earth Loaf’s raw, organic and healthy collection, Vivanda’s smooth and classic assortment, Bean Therapy’s bold and native flavours, or Mason & Co.’s neat and sophisticated series.
Shop delicious and premium chocolate, only at MAAL GAADi! J