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Would beg to differ with Forrest Gump when he said, a�?Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what youa��re gonna get.a�? For chocoholics like me, I always know what Ia��m going to get, and why I want that one. Ita��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 frienda��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 chocolateA� station, serving up different forms of chocolate: from dark truffles to sa��more chocolate sandwiches with charred marshmallow, manned by Olive Beacha��s pastry chef, Girish Nayak. And his piA�ce de rA�sistance 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 a�� chocolate. Ita��s easily the most popular edible thing in the world, and
everyone has their favourites a�� from Cadburya��s bars to handmade Stilton and port-infused truffles. Though Culinary Institute of America alum Nayak feels ita��s somewhat overhyped as an ingredient (I vehemently disagree), he admitsour association with chocolate is strong because everyone grows up eating and loving it. a�?But people should think beyond chocolate cake, be willing to experiment,a�? he says, citing his favourite choc-centric dish: a dark chocolate and Earl Grey tea ganache with avocado purA�e at New Yorka��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 Valentinea��s dinner menu. The plates returned to the kitchen totally clean.
Chocolatier Chenddyna Schae says she was attracted to chocolate making because it was a�?very creative, aromatic and visually beautiful.a�? Her chocolaterie Jus Trufs, makes a range of chocolates including chocolates with liqueur, blue cheese, vinegar and sea salt, and her specialty, a a�?sinful, life-changing fudge milkshake with 70 per cent dark Belgian chocolate ice-cream.a�? 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. a�?Read the label before buying,a�? she said, a�?Good chocolatiers use cocoa butter, they dona�?t substitute this with lower quality compound chocolate, which requires no tempering, an otherwise complex process.a�?

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 crA�me brA�lA�e or tiramisu chocs.Discard the usual suspects for Vosges, Royce or Neuhausa�� handcrafted delights the next time you travel. You wona��t regret it. Like Charles Shultz said, a�?All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesna��t hurt.a�?

-Ruma Singh

 

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