This year's Annual Chocolate Show may be smaller than usual, but it's much more well-rounded, with lots of unique flavors really worth checking out.
As far as edible goodies go, there were a few standouts. As its name would imply, deBondt ciocollato originale is Italian-based, though their chocolate is sourced from all over the world. They explore ways to pair various flavors with the different chocolates they use, and the science behind their bars is quite nuanced.
They've devised entire lines of flavors around themes, such as an aromatic line (mint, coriander, and fennel bars) or a peperoncino line with habanero, jalapeno, and Calabrian varieties, exploring the way that similar flavors can be paired with different kinds of chocolate to have wildly different effects on the palette. My favorite, if not the most original, came from the citrus fruit line—a combo of dark chocolate, orange, and mandarin flavors.
I wouldn't miss Christopher Michael's pomegranate bonbons (pictured at top), which were named best in show. Inside the dark chocolate exterior are layers of pomegranate jam, lime-infused ganache, and a chili dust. It sounds like a bit too much for one bite, but the flavors kick in one after the other, and it's really quite satisfying.
Al-Nassma took the prize for originality, making their chocolates with camel milk. Apparently, camel milk only has about 1-2% lactose (versus cow's milk, which has 7-8%), making it easier to digest for sensitive stomachs. It's also a lot richer in protein, but contains less calcium than normal chocolate, for those of us keeping track. The milk chocolate bar with Spices Arabia was my favorite, even though I don't normally like milk chocolate—it was spiced with cardamom, nutmeg, and some "secret Middle Eastern" additions that couldn't be revealed. The camel milk lends a particularly smooth texture that was quite nice, too.
As for the "interactive" components, I was really impressed by the chocolate carving at Fika's booth, but had more fun getting into the process myself making chocolate with the folks from the http://www.cottontreelodge.com/. An eco-tourism spot that focuses on local chocolate production in Belize, they brought enough beans to showcase the process from start to finish. Jeff Pzena grabs handfuls of roasted beans and dumps them into a funnel attached to a crank—twirl it around and you'll create nibs and skins, which are then extruded into a paste that more resembles chocolate. The last steps are the most rewarding: watch as the chocolate gets tempered and melted smoothly into chocolate and then dip pretzels in to taste the fruits of your labor.
The chocolate show only lasts through the weekend, so be sure to get your fix before it's too late.
The Chocolate Show
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