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Would beg to differ with Forrest Gump when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” For chocoholics like me, I always know what I’m going to get, and why I want that one. It’s what I make a beeline for at any gourmet store I visit.

But once in a while comes along a delicious discovery that makes your chocolate heaven a little more habitable.Last week was a close friend’smilestone birthday, and she decided that the long evening of merrymaking called for islands of easy-handling food to graze from. Her bestbrainwave, I thought, was a chocolate  station, serving up different forms of chocolate: from dark truffles to s’more chocolate sandwiches with charred marshmallow, manned by Olive Beach’s pastry chef, Girish Nayak. And his piéce de résistance was a cup of orange and whisky-infused dark molten chocolate. Heaven in a demitasse.
That got me thinking (more than I should) of my favourite food — chocolate. It’s easily the most popular edible thing in the world, and
everyone has their favourites — from Cadbury’s bars to handmade Stilton and port-infused truffles. Though Culinary Institute of America alum Nayak feels it’s somewhat overhyped as an ingredient (I vehemently disagree), he admitsour association with chocolate is strong because everyone grows up eating and loving it. “But people should think beyond chocolate cake, be willing to experiment,” he says, citing his favourite choc-centric dish: a dark chocolate and Earl Grey tea ganache with avocado purée at New York’s famous WD -50. While most Indians are wary about thinking out of the chocolate box, Nayak does so whenever he can: a chocolate beetroot cake with raspberry and beetroot gel, for instance, was created for a Valentine’s dinner menu. The plates returned to the kitchen totally clean.
Chocolatier Chenddyna Schae says she was attracted to chocolate making because it was “very creative, aromatic and visually beautiful.” Her chocolaterie Jus Trufs, makes a range of chocolates including chocolates with liqueur, blue cheese, vinegar and sea salt, and her specialty, a “sinful, life-changing fudge milkshake with 70 per cent dark Belgian chocolate ice-cream.” Her new passion is developing a range of 85 per cent dark chocolate sourced from Mysore, a wholly Karnataka bean to bar exercise.

I asked Chenddyna for chocolate buying tips. “Read the label before buying,” she said, “Good chocolatiers use cocoa butter, they don‘t substitute this with lower quality compound chocolate, which requires no tempering, an otherwise complex process.”

Chocolate is divine by itself, glorious when combined with other ingredients. So go head and live a little dangerously, indulge in some of the new chocolate trends: from quinoa-studded dark chocolates to Sriracha, Kashmiri kahwa or hojicha- infused truffles. Nibble on créme brûlée or tiramisu chocs.Discard the usual suspects for Vosges, Royce or Neuhaus’ handcrafted delights the next time you travel. You won’t regret it. Like Charles Shultz said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

-Ruma Singh

 

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