Hideko Kawa reveals the secrets of her chocolate cigars

Hideko Kawa. Photo: Cacao Barry

Hideko Kawa loves to surprise when creating her wonderful desserts. This love for fun and creative sweets started many years ago when Hideko was growing up in Japan. Using her art and culinary skills Hideko began creating pastry items that looked truly genuine, and tasted fabulous as well - flavour is always her number one priority. Her love for culinary arts took her to some of London’s most prestigious and creative kitchens including Heston Blumenthal’s (she was Head Development Pastry Chef). Since Hideko set up her own business called SweetArt laboratory, she created many delicious, beautiful and fun items such as guitar cake, edible picture frame, sugar champagne flutes and her famous chocolate mini-burger. She recently launched a range of confitures, including a marmalade. Hideko is one of the most exciting pastry chefs in the UK, so it was a great honour to have her as a guest chef at the Cacao Collective event and to see what Hideko would create.

Keeping to her fun and creative style of pastry design, Hideko prepared a dessert which caught a lot of attention not only because of the wonderful flavours and textures, but also because of its looks: it was a chocolate cigar. But let’s start at the beginning.

Hideko Kawa's cigars

Hideko, how did it all start? Where did the inspiration come from?

It all started with tasting the entire Origins range of dark couverture samples, including Tanzanie, Venezuela, Cuba, Saint-Domingue, Ghana, and Fleur de Cao. Those origins range of chocolates have all distinct aromas and include rich, unique flavours with a well-balanced powerful cocoa taste.

The smoky tobacco-like taste and aroma of the Venezuela-origin dark couverture chocolate, which is very unique and exotic, caught my attention. I closed my eyes and I was flying over the landscape in Venezuela, seeing people smoking cigars after they harvested chocolate beans or tobacco leaves. Tobacco, cacao, sunshine - all this inspired me and suddenly the idea of a chocolate cigar came into my mind. I loved the vision so I decided to create cigars which would look really authentic and surprise with a complex cigar flavour profile. 

I never smoked cigars so I started my research: how they look like, how they are made, their structure, ingredients, packaging ...  The only ingredient was tobacco leaves, so I researched them in detail, especially their flavour profile. It was an exciting journey with a great end destination.

Funnily enough, although Cuban cigars are very well known, I found Venezuela origin chocolate had more tobacco taste than Cuba origin. I thought the combination of Venezuelan-origin couverture and cigars perfectly matched. So I decided to use the Venezuela-origin dark couverture for my cigar chocolate tuile.

Hideko Kawa in action. Photo: Cacao Barry

The look and texture of the cigars were just perfect. And so was their flavour. How was it created?

I studied the flavours of cigars to achieve the perfect flavour paring with the Venezuela-origin dark couverture chocolate. Cigar flavours include plants, herbs, spices, minerals, fruits, nuts, honey, coffee and others. I selected some of them: chocolate, coffee, citrus and honey. I also added the flavour of Bourbon whisky, which is great to accompany cigars.

The Shell of my cigars was made out of chocolate tuile (with Amber cocoa powder to highlight the taste of the Venezuela chocolate), coated from the inside with the Venezuela-origin dark couverture.
The filling was made out of coffee-flavoured whipped ganache cream created using Venezuela-origin chocolate, Bourbon ganache and yuzu marmalade (as citrus flavour paring).

Simply amazing!
And how did you feel about the Cacao Collective event?

It was a truly special day for me - it was great sharing chocolate fantasies with renowned pastry chefs and chocolatiers in a grand beautiful setting. Happiness and bliss are two words I was feeling at the Cacao Collective event. The day was a  very memorable occasion.

Thank you, Hideko, for your wonderful creation and your time.

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