Pushing the boundaries of chocolate pairing

Pushing the boundaries of chocolate pairing

The Cacao Collective event organised by Cacao Barry in London, at the London Edition Hotel gathered 40 Chefs from prestigious venues in London and further afield, on Monday 29th of January 2018. Inspiration and pushing the boundaries of taste were the key words of this evening brightened up by two masters in this domain; Francois Chartier :Best Sommelier of the World in 1994 and author of award winning books, and Andres Lara: Cacao Barry Chef renowned for his worldwide experience including some iconic venues such as El Bulli or Noma, to name just a few.

The event was opened up by a talk of Francois Chartier explaining the mysteries of aromatic pairing. The whole philosophy is based on synergies between molecules and as a result, one plus one, equals three. So how do you pair a chocolate, which on average has around 600 different aromatic  molecules ? The answer is by finding the dominant aromatic molecule of each chocolate and to associate it with ingredients who share a similar dominant aromatic molecule. So for example dark Chocolate Single Origin Venezuela surprisingly goes really well with mature cheeses as they share some similar dominant aromatic molecules.

After the theory, the guests could explore new associations of flavours by going around four tables displaying unusual combinations with chocolate. Each table was featuring a chocolate and various ingredients ranging from cheese, to aromatic herbs, tea, alcoholic drinks, etc, that were creating synergies of taste with the chocolate. The first table was displaying Alto el Sol, a Plantation 65% dark chocolate with fruity aromas, rich in rotundone molecules. The second table was presenting a milk chocolate : Ghana origin 40 %, rich in lactones molecules associated with other ingredients rich in lactones such as maple syrup, corn or even spinach and aubergines. Thirdly another dark chocolate: Single Origin Venezuela was paired with mature cheeses and other ingredients presenting similar aromatic molecules. On the fourth round, Zephyr white chocolate was associated with other ingredients rich in estragole molecules such as Arbequina olive oil or passion fruit juice. So as Francois Chartier said “pairing chocolate can be full of surprises, unusual combinations are yet to be explored and science can be a powerfull tool for exploring flavours”.

Following this agitation of taste buds, the second part of the evening was taking further this principle and applying it to desserts. Andres Lara, Cacao Barry Chef took the challenge to explore new combinations of taste. The first dessert was playing around Zephyr caramel chocolate, in an unusual shape of tart, enriched with cheese cream, passion fruit meringue, apricot sorbet and honey decoration. The second dessert was more extreme and unleashing the power of smokiness by pairing Alto el Sol Dark Chocolate in a Nougat Glace shape with whiskey and apple. As Andres introduced his desserts, it may be too strong for some people but Cacao Barry is all about pushing the boundaries of taste.

The third guest of the evening was Erik van der Veken, Technical Advisor at Redmond Fine Foods and newly appointed Cacao Barry Ambassador in Ireland. He met Andres several years ago, the first time during a course in the Middle East and the second time in the USA and they stayed in touch. So this was the perfect opportunity to work together again and Erik joined as well the quest to unbox creativity. His dessert untitled “ Memories from the Middle East” combined Alunga milk chocolate 41% with sesame in all possible textures, also with dates and Ras el Hanout. And to finish on an elegant touch, he treated the guests with exotic bonbons blending coconut, almond, or bananas, lemon and brown rum.

All the guests felt really inspired after the evening and many said they had never tried such blends of aromas and would definitively have a play with it when back in the kitchen. This truly embodies the spirit of Cacao Barry to enable Chefs to push the boundaries of flavours and to unbox their creativity.