Who needs store-bought, synthetic-tasting commercial chocolate bars when there are artisan chocolate makers from the country who hand-make chocolates with plenty of love and care? Meet the chocolatiers who offer chocolate bars packed with exotic ingredients, interesting local twists and some who even source their cacao from farms right here in the country.
Mumbai-based chef and chocolatier Sanjoy Solomon’s chocolate offerings, under the label Bean Therapy, is literally a national integration of sorts. The handmade chocolate bars are perked up with local ingredients from various parts of India. So you have fiery Teja chillies from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh competing with sticky brittle or chikki from Lonavala in Maharashtra, the delicate nutty and green tea flavours of the Kashmiri Kahwa tea holding its own against, Watapi, single estate coffee beans grown in Karnataka and Himalayan pink salt. All these exotic and very Indian ingredients are infused with Belgian Callebaut chocolate to create the Bean Therapy bars.
Prices start from Rs 240. Visit beantherapy.in to order.
The Mysore-based Earth Loaf is a bean-to-bar company with all of its chocolate, cacao butters, liquor and nibs made in-house. Earth Loaf’s chocolates are vegan, made of cacao beans, palm sugar and cold pressed coconut oil, and is free of milk, soy, lecithin, emulsifiers and preservatives. Founded in 2010, Earth Loaf is spearheaded by UK-based chocolatiers David Belo and Angelika Anagnostou, who have a background in the food and beverages business and are tastemakers.
Earth Loaf’s selection comprises a 72 per cent dark chocolate bar made with single origin raw and organic South Indian cacao, a bar dotted with cacao nibs and dusted with palmyra sugar, a bar with organic almonds and sea salt smoked over cacao husks and coal and bon bons in flavours such as masala chai (Indian spices and vanilla) and tiramisu (coffee, nutmeg, raisins and vanilla) made with raw cashew cream and encased with 72 per cent dark chocolate.
Prices start from Rs 190. Visit earthloaf.co.in to order online.
Mason & Co
French husband-wife duo Fabien and Jane Mason, operate their chocolate label Mason & Co out of Auroville in Pondicherry. Mason & Co is also a bean-to-bar chocolatier and works directly with organic certified farms in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The duo offer eight kinds of chocolate bars, made from single origin Indian cacao, such as coconut milk dark chocolate (55 per cent), roasted cashew dark chocolate (6per cent), semi-sweet dark chocolate (65 per cent), cacao chip dark chocolate (70 per cent), chilli and cinnamon dark chocolate ( 70 per cent), sea salt dark chocolate (70 per cent), bitter sweet dark chocolate (75 per cent) and zesty orange dark chocolate (75 per cent). They also offer services such as post harvesting advice to farmers and bean-to-bar training and you are most welcome to write to them for a factory visit.
Prices start from Rs 245. Visit masonchocolate.com to see a list of stores and e-stores where they sell. Write to Jane Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org fora factory visit.
Smitten Bakery & Patisserie
Former television journalist-turned-home baker, Mandakini Gupta offers several exotic flavours in her range of handmade chocolate bars under the label Smitten Bakery & Patisserie. She uses Belgian Callebaut and the French Cacao Barry (about 64-65 per cent not darker, not lighter) in her range which is infused with fruits, nuts, spices, coffee and even seeds. Gupta’s unusual flavour pairings include pistachio and raspberries, almond, currant and sea salt, hazelnut, fig and orange, pumpkin seed and candied chilli, peanut caramel crunch and roasted coffee bean. She uses organic oranges from her parents’ farm in Sohna (on the outskirts of Gurgaon), locally sourced figs, peanuts, almonds and coffee beans from Indian company Blue Tokai. The raspberries, currants and hazelnuts are sourced from abroad. She only uses Maldon sea salt flakes in her chocolates. Plans are afoot to use 72 per cent single origin chocolate in the future. The chocolates are currently made only on order.
Prices start from Rs 160. Email email@example.com or visit facebook.com/smittenbakery1/ to order.