CHOCO­LATE DREAM

Delve deeper into ev­ery­one’s favourite in­dul­gence

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Starter Ingredients -

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.

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