Spices and terroir trending at Chocolate Show
Like wine, cocoa connoisseurs are placing increasing importance on the principle of chocolate ‘terroir’, while chocolatiers are spicing things up with everything from saffron to Espelette pepper and kaffir lime.
Like restaurant fare, flavor pairings are seasonal and local. And while some chocolate maestros are coming up with inventive, unexpected flavor pairings, others are turning an eye back to the classics.
So say organizers of the largest event dedicated to all things chocolate, the Salon du Chocolat currently taking place in Paris.
The notion of chocolate terroir has become increasingly popular recently, with chocolatiers taking special consideration of the source of their cocoa.
For example, Ecuadorian cocoa is grown under banana and mango trees yielding chocolate with hints of tropical fruit. Because Madagascan cocoa, meanwhile, is more acidic, chocolate sourced from that region pairs well with fruit like red berries.
Meanwhile, there’s a no-holds-barred attitude that’s taking hold of daring, imaginative chocolatiers who are using the confectionery as a flavor vehicle for bold spices like saffron, Nepalese pepper, pink peppercorn, Espelette pepper, and punchy, pungent Indian spices.
Gourmet chocolate manufacturer Cacobean Chocolatier, for instance, sells soft-filled bonbons flavored with Indian spices like cumin, cardamom, clove and mace, while Belgium-based Neuhaus sells a dark chocolate praline spiced with nigella, a mild Indian spice often confused with black cumin.
Reinventing chocolate with local ingredients and flavors is particularly strong in Japan, where annual sales are rising by 25 percent.
For example, Japanese chocolatiers are giving the confectionery familiar flavor twists with notes of matcha tea, yuzu and sesame seeds.
Summer and winter collections, meanwhile, may mean pairing chocolate with seasonal flavors like fruit, flowers and herbs for summer, and pralines, dried fruits and caramel for winter.
And while some are constantly trying to push the boundaries, others are mastering old classics like truffles, milles-feuilles and chocolate macarons.
The Salon du Chocolat ends today in Paris. The Chocolate Show comes to New York November 9-12 to celebrate its 15th anniversary.