Rich, sweet, dark and sinful – that is how, some have jested, women like their chocolate, and their men. Chocolate and romance have long been linked together because there are few foods in this world quite as sexy as chocolate. It has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, and a mood-enhancer.
What’s more, chocolate contains health-imbibing benefits, which help decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and cancer. Of course, the fact that it tastes awesome and can be concocted into different types of foods does not hurt either.
But not all chocolates are equal (hence, the astounding price differences). Plus, there are so many types to choose from. To save you the grief, we distil the information and give you the sweet results.
All the Goodness Inside
All chocolates are defined by their cocoa content. Dark chocolate is the usual crowd favourite and comes in four varieties: bitter, bittersweet and semi-sweet, and dark sweet. Because of their popularity and cocoa mass, dark chocolate also tends to be more costly. Milk chocolate has less cocoa mass and an added ingredient – milk. White chocolate has no cocoa mass but has cocoa butter.
TWG Tea Company may be a tea-lover’s haven but at their Tea Salon and Boutique at ION Orchard, they have ventured into the chocolate business as well, bringing to chocolate connoisseurs an assortment of tea-infused pralines, truffles and chocolate bars. Dark chocolate lovers will enjoy Singapore Breakfast Tea & Hazelnut, a dark chocolate praline which combines a tea blend of tangerine, ginger, and cloves; and green and black tea with a crunchy hazelnut milk chocolate bar.
Milk and white chocolate fans need not feel left out. Try their Camelot Tea and Gianduja, a milk chocolate treat with hazelnut paste infused with black tea, cinnamon, almonds and a hint of blue cornflower. These chocolates are sold by weight at S$20 per 100 grams, which would give you about 10 pieces or so. You can also get chocolates in bars at S$22 apiece.
Handmade products are unquestionably better. Chocolates are no exception. Handmade chocolates are created in smaller batches with great attention to process. Belgian chocolatiers, for example, are known for using a chocolate processing technique which uses couverture (chocolate disks) which they make on their own or get from factories nearby. Because it comes from their shops or near their shops, the couverture is still warm and do not require reheating which affects the condition and purity of taste of the confection. That is why Belgian chocolates are considered one of the world’s best.
Local chocolate cake specialist, Awfully Chocolate, offers a unique chocolate creation made with their own cold-poaching technique topped with your choice of fresh liqueur cream: Baileys, Malt Whiskey, Brandy, Pear and Butterscotch that is the ideal counterpoint to the soft, bittersweet chocolate. Another handmade delight is their hand-cut dark chocolate truffles (S$15.60 for six) which are divine in their simplicity.
Japanese brand, Royce’ Chocolate, attributes its fine quality to the fact that their chocolates are made from the best ingredients in Hokkaido where the temperate climate is ideal for the temperature-sensitive sweet. Their signature Nama Chocolates are heavenly squares of chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Because of the generous use of fresh cream, the silken cubes melt in the mouth almost instantaneously. To up the decadence factor, opt for their champagne or Hennessy V.S.O.P. infused chocolates. These are $16 for a box of 20 pieces (190 grams). Their Prafeuille (feuille mean “leaf” in French) Chocolat collection are three-millimetre slivers of chocolate filled with sauces like tart raspberry and blueberry, coffee, and honey. These are S$15 for a box of 30.
Attention to detail is another thing that marks gourmet handmade chocolates. Craftsmanship counts for everything. All these goes to explain the phenomenal taste and exorbitant prices of handmade chocolates.
Godiva’s Gold Collection is the ultimate in indulgence, featuring a selection of the brand’s best offerings – dark, milk and white chocolates, in addition to the pralines, ganaches, caramel and mousse collections. The crème de la crème of this gold standard are the pecan-caramel duet with a crunchy layer of caramel, a caramel-accented milk chocolate ganache, the macadamia mosaic, and the cherry, raspberry and mint-filled pieces. A box of eight will set you back by S$33 while the largest box of 32 piece costs S$115.
The Secrets of Picking Good Chocolate
If hand-crafted chocolates are too rich for your blood, there are plenty of other chocolates you can choose from at supermarkets or specialty chocolate stores. The Cocoa Tree will have you going wild with their selection which includes Toblerone, M&M;’s, Droste, Swiss Delice, The Belgian, Hawaiian Host, and Ritter Sport and premium brand, Neuhaus. These can range from less than S$5 per bar to S$65.80 for a box of Neuhaus dark and milk chocolates in 10 flavours (270 grams).
Before you even pick a flavour you fancy, though, knowing your good chocolate from your bad one is very important. Look at the chocolate. Good quality chocolate should have a glossy finish; good dark chocolate is a reddish brown. It should not have cracks or air bubbles or a white or grey cloud. If it does, it means your chocolate has “bloomed” because it has been subjected to extreme temperature changes. Toss it out.
Good chocolate should feel silky to the touch and melt quickly in your hands because cocoa butter has the same melting temperature as body temperature. The more cocoa butter the chocolate has, the quicker it melts at a touch, the more luxuriant it will feel in the mouth.
Now that you know the dark secrets of your favourite sweet, the next time you buy your rich treat either by the pound or by the bar, you will know exactly what you are biting into.
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The Cocoa Trees
The Cocoa Trees