Taste Test | Chocolate

By Shivana Maharaj
December 15, 2008

Our taste test of seven distinctive vanilla brands makes for a challenging quest. Photography K&S Media

CACAO VS. COCO: You may have noticed our spelling and use of cocoa versus cacao. They are two different things altogether. While CACAO refers to theobroma cacao, the tree containing colourful pods with seeds and to the dried partly fermented seeds COCOA usually refers to chocolate derived from the plant in its pulverized form.

WHAT IS BEAN TO BAR? Way beyond mass produced chocolate, bean to bar refers to the all encompassing process of sourcing cacoa beans (often from remote areas of South America and the Caribbean) directly from farmers and transforming it into chocolate. After the beans have been properly fermented by farmers, large sacs are shipped to select chocolatiers who roast, winnow, mix, conche and temper, to make what we know as chocolate. Because of the machinery, skill, and expense required there are very few small-scale bean to bar chocoaltiers globally. “On one level, making chocolate is fairly straight forward. The cocoa beans are roasted, the husks removed, the bits of bean (nibs) are ground along with sugar and sometimes vanilla until smooth and then the chocolate is heated and stirred until the flavor is developed. In reality though, it is much more complex than this and difficult to capture in a sound bite for the consumer,” says Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate.

CSL’S FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE MAKERS, WORLDWIDE

Photography K&S Media


 
Thomas Haas- CANADA

Following in his family’s footsteps Thomas Haas, a fourth generation pastry chef, has become one of Canada’s most respected chocolatiers. Haas began his training in Europe before moving to Canada in 1995, where he became executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. Haas quickly received accolades such as being named one of the top ten pastry chefs in America by Chocolatier and Pastry Art and Design Magazines. In 2008, Haas and his wife Lisa opened Thomas Haas Fine Pastries a patisserie, cappuccino bar and chocolate boutique. With flavour combinations such as lychee, green cardamom, earl grey tea, Jamaican rum and champagne, the stunning box of 15 chocolates from Thomas Haas begs for each and every one to be tasted, pondered and discussed. This is a box where you truly never know what you’re going to get, but will be elated with each and every one.

“More than 6 years ago, my wife Lisa and I began the journey to realize our life long dream. To be independent, have fun, make people laugh and of course prepare the most delectable handcrafted chocolates and pastries imaginable. ”- Thomas Haas.

www.thomashaas.com


 
 


 
Lindt – SWITZERLAND

Why mess with a good thing? Lindt chocolates are a nostalgic favourite among adults and children. From the characteristic slow melting Lindor truffles to the gold bunnies, and the boxed selections, Lindt’s distinctive taste and texture is a result of using Criollo and Trinitario beans fro plantations in Ecuador, Madagascar, Ghana and the Caribbean. It was chocolatier Randolphe Lindt who in 1879 is credited with creating the modern conche- a tool still used today to ‘air out’ the bitterness from the cacao beans. The one hundred fifty year legacy has always been involved in creating new concepts, including the introduction of Lindt Excellence estate bars and exciting new flavours such as fleur de sel (a saltysweet dark bar) and red chili pepper (a dark chocolate with a mild ting). I wonder what they’ll come up with next?

www.lindt.com


 
 


 
Amedei- ITALY

Their dream to make the best chocolate in the world, from bean to bar led the sister and brother team Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri to form exclusive contracts with producers in Venezuela, Trinidad, Grenada, Ecuador, and Jamaica and to create Amedei. Earning the golden bean award from London’s Academy of chocolate for three years, and with praise from restaurants (French Laundry, Le Bernardin, and The Fat Duck) Amedei’s exquisite packaging, and complex chocolates have garnered acclaim worldwide. CSL interviewed Ms. Tessieri, one of a few female master chocolatiers globally, to talk exclusively about her passion, determination and love of chocolate.


 
 

Valrhona – FRANCE
 


 
 

Grenada Chocolate Company – GRENADA


 
 

 
Amano – UTAH, USA


 
 

 
Genvieve Grandbois – MONTREAL, CANADA