Cocoa Crush

It seems like the only ingredient that universally appeals to people across the world, and across all age groups is chocolate. I’ve seen 80 year olds enjoy a sinful bar of chocolate with as much pleasure as 4 year olds. Some like their dark, other like theirs with nuts, some like theirs in the form of ice-cream and others enjoy a swirl in their coffee; no matter what the form, chocolate seems to appeal to each and every one of us in some way or the other. The few who don’t like chocolate are always at the receiving end of surprise, even ridicule. Naturally so! What’s not to love about this decadentingredient that has the power to make us swoon and wipe away all our worries?

I recently read Sanjeev Kapoor’s latest cook book; quite aptly called ‘Aah! Chocolate’ for its breathtaking photographs and indulgent recipes. It made me revisit my love for this beautiful ingredient and the plethora of dishes it can be used to create.

When we hear the word ‘chocolate’ today, we make a quick association with rich chocolate brownies, caramel filled truffles, creamy chocolate ice-creams and other sweet treats. We forget that all these indulgent end products begin a yellow green pod hanging off the branches of a tree,
in the forests of the Amazon. The Mayans are credited with the discovery of this pod and the seeds that lie within it. They passed it, through trade, to the Aztecs, which is how it got to Central America. When Spanish explorers landed the shores of America, they struck a bounty of natural resources, and took back several treasures to Europe, including the cacao bean. It was the Spaniards that thought of sweetening it with sugar and removing its bitterness by adding milk and vanilla extracts to it. Thus began the evolution of chocolate.

 

Today the process of chocolate making begins with roasting and fermenting cocoa beans to make a liquor which is the purest form of chocolate. To this liquor, manufacturers add cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, milk (in the case of milk chocolate) and, of course, their own selection of ingredients that distinguish each brand. The different ratios of these ingredients determine the type of the chocolate – bitter, bittersweet, semi-sweet, cooking, etc. The only exception to the basic formula is white chocolate, which has no cocoa liquor, just cocoa butter, as its base.

I for one have always loved chocolate, particularly the gourmet handcrafted kind. To me this glorious ingredient is given its due only in hand-made creations. Since I cannot be indulging all the time, I avoid the commercially made big brands & super-market bars of chocolate, opting instead for the delicately hand-made stuff. Commercially made chocolate, especially that made in India often does not contain cocoa butter, but instead uses other kinds of fat, which result in an inferior quality end product. Perfectly made chocolate must melt in the mouth in a few seconds and leave no residue on the palette. So where will you find this perfect piece of chocolate?

Well, you can make some yourself, and we’re about to show you how! Come join us for a special Chocolate Desserts Masterclass, where we’ll teach you how to work with this incredible ingredient and transform it into gourmet desserts.

And do try out Sanjeev’s new book on chocolate, there are some really interesting new ideas to experiment with such as the Chocolate Paan and a whole range of chocolate infused mithai ideas.