Delve deeper into ev­ery­one’s favourite in­dul­gence

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Contents -

We spot­light our favourite in­dul­gence— choco­late—and South­east Asia’s grow­ing promi­nence as a world class pro­ducer

It’s of­ten our first lux­ury—comfort in a melt­ing mouth­ful. Love, so­lace and joy cloaked in a lus­cious con­fec­tion. And make no mis­take, choco­late is in­deed a lux­ury. The jour­ney it takes from ca­cao bean to choco­late bar is a long and ar­du­ous one that to­day is even more pre­ciously val­ued, as fresh warn­ings of an im­pend­ing global ca­cao short­age res­onate around the world.

To make choco­late, ca­cao pods are first plucked from their trees and bro­ken open. Their beans are cleaned, fer­mented and dried in the sun be­fore be­ing packed and shipped to choco­late mak­ers. What fol­lows is lowtem­per­a­ture roast­ing to de­velop the beans’ flavour, win­now­ing (sep­a­rat­ing the nibs or “flesh” from the bean), grind­ing into co­coa mass, and high-pres­sure pro­cess­ing to yield ei­ther co­coa pow­der or ca­cao but­ter.

The lat­ter is ground, mixed and kneaded with in­gre­di­ents like sugar and milk to form choco­late, which is then conched (a process of rolling, knead­ing, heat­ing and aer­a­tion) to de­fine its fi­nal flavour and aroma, and re­fined for smooth­ness. Only then can it be shaped into blocks or drops, and tem­pered so the choco­late reaches its most sta­ble form.

Al­though French, Bel­gian and Swiss choco­late are of­ten cited by afi­ciona­dos as their choco­late of choice, none of these coun­tries ac­tu­ally pro­duces ca­cao beans. It is the Ivory Coast, Ghana and In­done­sia that are among the largest ca­cao pro­duc­ers, and as con­sumers be­come in­creas­ingly con­scious about where their food comes from, choco­late mak­ers from South­east Asia are look­ing to their back­yards for beans to trans­form into choco­late bars.

In­done­sia, the world’s third-largest ex­porter of ca­cao, boasts a clutch of fledg­ling bean-to­bar play­ers such as Pip­iltin Co­coa and Pod Choco­late. In Malaysia, Ong Ning Geng, the founder of Choco­late Concierge, not only pur­veys choco­lates made from lo­cal ca­cao beans, he’s also gone ahead and bought his own ca­cao trees. Viet­namese choco­latier Marou Faiseurs de Cho­co­lat is al­ready a well-loved brand around the Asian re­gion, while in the Philip­pines, Hi­raya Choco­lates sources its beans from Davao. Hav­ing their bases lo­cated close to the ca­cao farms they buy from means these choco­late mak­ers have an ac­tive hand in their raw ma­te­ri­als—so the flavour and qual­ity of their choco­late is gen­er­ally world-class.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, choco­late finds an ex­cel­lent flavour part­ner in an­other third-wave prod­uct: cof­fee. The lush, bit­ter un­der­tones com­ple­ment one an­other delectably, as seen in the most ba­sic of desserts: choco­late cake, choco­late mousse and tiramisu, to name but a few. Try it in your own ren­di­tion of cof­feescented choco­late truf­fles. Sim­ply mix half a cup of heavy cream with a quar­ter-cup of espresso and bring to a boil, and pour the boil­ing mix­ture over 280 grams of roughly chopped dark choco­late. Stir un­til smooth and re­frig­er­ate for 30 min­utes be­fore scoop­ing tea­spoon-sized balls of the re­sult­ing ganache onto a sheet pan lined with parch­ment pa­per. Re­frig­er­ate for an­other 30 min­utes and roll the truf­fles in co­coa pow­der be­fore serv­ing.

Cof­fee and choco­lates are soul­mates— match sin­gle-ori­gin vari­ants from Choco­late Con­ceirge with sin­gle ori­gin cup­pas

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