Ingredient Focus 2015: Chocolate

The global chocolate factory's best products revealed

Possibly the world's favourite sweet thing?
Possibly the world's favourite sweet thing?

Milk, dark, white, mixed with berries, and so much more — Devina Divecha tries them all and lets you know what’s happening in the global chocolate factory.

Products

Gourmet Milkshakes
Refreshing beverages like Monbana’s Gourmet Milkshakes include real pieces of fruit or chocolate for an authentic taste. The beverage mix enables the F&B professional to prepare gourmet milkshakes in 20 seconds by adding ice cubes and cold milk.

Thanks to the high percentage of milk, the texture is very creamy. Monbana has also developed a complete service equipment made of posters, tent cards, glasses and take-away cups to help promoting milkshakes in foodservice places.

Petit Choux
One of Forrey & Galland’s new products is the petits choux. A popular French dessert, these treats are made from a light pastry dough and come in flavours such as orange blossom, pistachio, rose, chocolate and coffee. They are an incredibly light and fresh dessert, and great for catering.

Monin Walnut Brownie Syrup
Monin Walnut Brownie syrup has a combination of roasted walnuts and dark chocolate flavours. Monin beverage innovation director MEIA Andrea Fidora’s personal favourite is to add nuttiness and intensify the rich chocolate taste of a cup of hot chocolate with it. He also suggests using the syrup with espresso martinis, as the nutty chocolate taste counter-balances the bitterness of the espresso.

DeZaan Gourmet
Drawing on more than 100 years of rich heritage, tradition and knowledge of cocoa, a new line of chocolate couvertures has been created. The deZaan Belgium Gourmet range, supplied by Aramtec, including dark, milk and white chocolates, is produced in Belgium, respecting Belgian processing techniques.

DeZaan Gourmet specially selects the most aromatic cocoa beans and carefully processes them to create exquisite flavour profiles and exceptional quality.

Finally deZaan Gourmet guarantees products from bean until production, ensuring you have the best quality ingredients for your chocolate creations. To assure distinctive taste, the brand uses 100% pure cocoa butter and natural bourbon vanilla).

Latest news
Monin has launched its sixth development centre in Paris, a studio designed for its international partners. Located 30 minutes from the airport, it allows for a convenient and full tasting experience.

Monin beverage innovation director MEIA Andrea Fidora said: “Complementary to our studio in Bourges, the Parisian Studio is a great tool and fantastic place to get inspired.” The Monin Parisian Studio was inaugurated last month with the European and MEIA brand ambassadors seminar. This location adds to the existing development centres in Bourges, Clearwater, Kuala Lumpur, Dallas, and Shanghai.

Cocosia Artisan Chocolate is introducing Dubai to the next big thing in the chocolate world: pairing chocolate with tea blends. While coffee is thought of as the best accompaniment to chocolate, the company says tea is a ‘cleaner’ and less abrasive match for chocolate.

Cocosia Artisan Chocolates uses Dammann Frères Tea as a natural complement to its chocolates. When it comes to pairing, some suggested combinations include: Cocosia’s Strassbourg chocolate with Dammann Frères Earl Grey Vert Primeur; the delicate green Earl Grey tea with the sweet milky flavours of the caramel and milk chocolate; for stronger earthy Dammann Frères Pu-Erh teas, pair with the Japanese citrus flavours of Cocosia’s Yuzu; and the smokiness of the Lapsang Souchong tea requires an equally strong partner, therefore the bitter-sweetness of Cocosia’s quality 70% couverture matches up.

In May 2014, Dubai-based Forrey & Galland was approached by Harrods to design a collection for the store. Forrey & Galland managing director Isabelle Jaouen says: “It is incredible validation to see that our strive for excellence, and commitment to perfection and quality is recognised on a worldwide level.

We also had the honour of being invited to be a part of their window display, an incredible feature considering this is the first time in Harrods’ history that food brands were allowed to take up window space.” She also reveals that the brand is due to open its next boutique in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after its flagship in Dubai Mall. She says: “We are so excited about this, not only because it’s an extraordinarily satisfying feeling to see something we have worked so hard on grow, but also because the store will really be something else.”

Monbana export general manager Dominique Renault reveals the company is looking at a new production site, for early 2016, dedicated to the manufacture of cocoa powders, milkshake powders, iced chocolates and lots of other new beverages. He says: “With 6300m2, our production capacity will greatly increase.

This strategic project will offer Monbana the opportunity to conquer new markets, like the vending market with a new range of vending chocolate powders.” The new production site will be located at Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes in the region of Brittany, which will be a strategic location.

Chocolate is made from cacao seeds, and today Western Africa produces a majority of the world’s cocoa. Recently, the shortage in the world’s supply of cocoa is ringing alarm bells in the ears of the chocolate industry. We investigate ...

Has the shortage in the world’s supply of cocoa affected you?
It’s interesting to note that because the cocoa shortage development is so new, there have been mixed responses from the people surveyed. Cocosia Artisan Chocolate chief chocolatier and owner Qudisa Karim says: “There has been no change of the supply of cocoa here in the UAE; however, there has been an increase in the price of chocolate couvertures.”

However, Forrey & Galland managing director Isabelle Jaouen says: “There has definitely been a price impact due to the shortage of cacao which we have purposefully decided to absorb for the time being. However, due to our high end selection of raw materials we may, unfortunately, be obliged to follow the market price.”

Cocoa is subject to fluctuations that must be taken into account, says Monbana export general manager Dominique Renault. He adds: “Indeed, the increases are present and are obviously reflected in our sales prices to continue sustaining the business.” However, he says it’s important for the firm to continue offering a “superior quality of cocoa” to maintain market power and satisfy its customers.

Per Te Ristorante e Café head chef Gladwin Anton, however, has a slightly different outlook. He explains: “We have had no impact whatsoever. If anything, we are spoilt for choice in this market. Our suppliers are able to provide us with the exact specification we request for — premium and high quality chocolates.” Paul senior F&B brand manager Christian Salloum agrees: “The world’s supply of cocoa has had no effect on this region as yet. We are always careful in using our ingredients and always aim to waste as little as possible.”

How popular would you say chocolate is in the Middle East?
Salloum says he can see definitive proof of the popularity of chocolate in the market: “Not a single day passes by without a customer not purchasing a chocolate-based product, and during busy days we have at least one chocolate-based product sold every hour at Paul. Our chocolate desserts are our best sellers including our chocolate drinks and viennoiseries. In addition, during our promotional and themed campaigns, chocolate has the biggest part of the varieties.”

The Ivy Dubai pastry chef Nilmini Serasinghe says chocolate is very popular in the market. She says: “You can see most of the branded restaurants in town with signature desserts made with chocolate. Look at the chocolate bomb at The Ivy, for example.”

Monbana’s Renault says the purchasing power in the Middle East is high, and with more than 170 nationalities present in the UAE itself, it’s important to meet client expectations. He adds: “More people spend their time eating in malls and hotels, so chocolate consumption is rising sharply. There are also a lot of private parties, weddings, and events where chocolate is appreciated and consumed.

“This is a big high-growth market for chocolate vendors and definitely consumption will continue to grow in the coming years.”

Per Te’s Anton agrees and says the UAE is emerging as a lucrative market for international chocolate companies due to rise in consumption, both consumer and industry.

How much creativity does chocolate as an ingredient allow you?
According to Cocosia’s Karim, chocolate is a versatile ingredient, and it’s up to the chef or chocolatier to bring out the best. She explains: “Every chocolate couverture has unique properties. As a chocolatier, you have to understand the notes and flavours, and how to incorporate them with different ingredients.”

Serasinghe says she uses the ingredient in a variety of ways, and adds: “Chocolate is one of the world’s most dynamic and complex ingredients. It is extremely useful and offers a great degree of flexibility and creativity in the hands of a pastry chef as it can be carved and moulded.”

Java Jolt head chef Khomotšo Leluma agrees and says: “Chocolate is a very versatile ingredient to use in the culinary world and you are only limited by your own personal creativity in the way you use it. I use chocolate as decoration on the plate in the form of painting. I make decorations by tempering chocolate to put on food. I use it in cake, mousse, sauces (sweet or savoury), muffins and drinks.”

Any impact on the demand for chocolate due to health issues?
Already citing the health properties of chocolate with high cocoa content (see box out on page 42), Karim says people are growing to understand the benefits of chocolate.

Serasinghe comments: “Many researchers say dark chocolate has health benefits, and cocoa appears to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Dark chocolate, with 70% cocoa solids, is the healthiest since it has little sugar — its fat comes from cocoa butter and contains iron and magnesium.”

Leluma adds: “In my opinion, there may be less of a demand for milk and white chocolate for those who are conscious of their health. Dark chocolate of 70% and higher has a substantial amount of antioxidants and contains bioactive compounds that improves blood flow in the arteries.

Dark chocolate is quite nutritious too. 100 grams of 70% dark chocolate contains about 11 grams of soluble fibre, which is good for digestion. If you’re on a weight loss programme, dark chocolate helps you stick to your diet as it reduces the cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.”

Salloum concludes: “Consumers in the region tend to be affected by such awareness campaigns; however, it is believed that dark chocolate is very nutritious. It has a good amount of soluble fibre, minerals and a good source of antioxidants, which is great. For most, it makes us smile, be happy and improves our mood.” Essentially, pop over to the dark side of chocolate — it has health benefits.

Top trends
Caterer Middle East asked multiple people about top trends, and all agreed it’s the time of dark chocolate.

From ancient times, chocolate has been regarded as a luxury and healthy product, according to Qudsia Karim, chief chocolatier and owner of Cocosia Artisan Chocolate.

She says: “Nowadays the chocolate industry is seeing a trend that is moving towards chocolate with high cocoa percentage, found in dark chocolates. Awareness and changing tastes have forced manufacturers to look towards sourcing sustainable certified cocoa to make luxury chocolates.”

Forrey & Galland managing director Isabelle Jaouen agrees and says that over the last few years, people are keen to know what goes into their food.

“This makes sense, as we see a sort of wellness wave take over the GCC; there has undoubtedly been a trend towards a healthier lifestyle. Our dark chocolate collection is an infusion of flavour, without adding any sugar. In line with this trend, we have also created our own sugar free-collection, and contains both our milk and dark chocolate ganache.”

Dominique Renault, export general manager, Monbana says: “The main trend in the chocolate industry today is tending to dark chocolate, with intense taste and less added sugar. Consumers are looking for authenticity and original tastes and are very sensitive to the origin of cocoa and its ethical aspects — organic, Fairtrade, no-added sugar, rainforest and so on.”

Java Jolt head chef Khomotšo Leluma adds: “The region is witnessing an increase in the number of diabetic and obese people, due to a sedentary lifestyle and irregular eating habits. Hence there is a rise in the demand for sugar-free chocolate. There is an increase in demand for dark chocolate as people are health conscious and more informed about its benefits.”

 

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