Chocolate + Coffee = Pure Decadence!

‘Coffee makes it possible to get out of bed, chocolate makes it worthwhile!’ Most of us can’t do without both of them individually but when they come together….It’s a match made in heaven!

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a coffee and chocolate pairing session, brought together by Visit Victoria (official tourism agency of Melbourne & Victoria) with Arno Backes (Founder of Melbourne’s luxury chocolate brand, Gânache Chocolate) and Rahul Leekha (Director – Coffee By Di Bella, India).

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Melbourne, often referred to as the coffee capital of the world, is known for its café culture which is not confined to just excellent coffee – but an experience that goes beyond. Over the years, coffee has evolved from the popular espresso and latte to a more refine, gourmet beverage with connoisseurs analyzing different roasts, flavour profiles and blends of the beans. According to Arno, the capital city of Victoria houses over 2000 cafes. Can you believe it? Fortunately, we can get a feel of their exquisite cafe culture in Mumbai with Coffee by Di Bella. Catching up over a cuppa coffee has become more fun ever since the iconic brand has stepped foot in India. Leisure or business meetings at coffee shops got a new meaning…Thanks to the Australian chain’s innovative and scrumptious selection of food and beverages!

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If you’re in Melbourne, a visit to the luxury chocolate brand is a must. The Master Chocolatier who has been passionate about chocolate all his life has devoted himself to creating superb chocolate creations that taste every bit as good as they look. When Gânache Chocolate started, he had just one Pastry Chef working with him, and now there are 15 highly trained and devoted team members who create everything from chocolate bars to chocolate bunnies, tea cakes to macaron towers and lots more. One can choose from 450 different kinds of products ranging from 80 cents to $500.

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The event started with a specially curated masterclass where mouth-watering chocolates were paired with delicious coffee blends like:

– Sahara blend coffee with Cafe Latte & Irish Cream chocolates:
Coffee Characteristics:
Sharp & full-bodied – best enjoyed by a refined palate.

Chocolate Characteristics:
Cafe Latte – Milk ganache infused with coffee and a hint of cognac, dipped in milk couverture. Dark but not too bitter in taste, it perfectly balanced the sharp and full-bodied coffee with its smoothness.

Irish Cream – Dark ganache infused with coffee, brandy and hazelnut. Milkier than the previous chocolate, sharp hints of hazelnut, espresso and healthy amounts of brandy went well with the strong blend.

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– Premium blend coffee with Noir & Melbourne Mint chocolates:
Coffee Characteristics:
Balanced & smooth – perfect for all coffee loving palates.

Chocolate Characteristics:
Noir – 75% dark chocolate ganache, dipped in 60% dark couverture and decorated with an edible transfer. Rich, smooth and a perfect accompaniment to the creamy coffee blend.

Melbourne Mint – A delicious minty ganache covered in a 60% dark couverture. More subtle than Noir, soft with a hint of mint. Had a lovely mouth-feel.

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I’m sure you’re wondering, how does one pair chocolate and coffee? Keep in mind to start with a light chocolate and gradually move onto a stronger one. Avoid using caramel or anything that’s too sweet – instead use a darker and richer chocolate!

Right after our tasting, the Pastry Chef wove his chocolate filled magic by displaying his fabulous technique of chocolate tempering. He was kind enough to even allow some of us to try our hands at it. Upon being asked why one needs to temper chocolate, he said, ‘Cocoa butter separates from cocoa mass and floats on the top. Tempering prevents that and helps bind the chocolate so it produces a crisp, smooth, glossy and satisfying snap when bitten or cut.’ Chocolate may taste like the best thing on this planet, but guess what? It’s just as or may be more difficult to handle. Even a delay of one second can make all your work go for a toss. The best way to know if your chocolate has been tempered is by dabbing some on your bottom lip or by simply using the knuckle of your fingers since these areas are the most heat sensitive.

After taking us through the process, it was time for the the launch of the highly anticipated Freak Shake! Arno created the sinfully delicious ‘Melbourne Freak Shake’ which we (obviously) got to try. Made with chocolate sauce, ice, chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate, milk, whipped cream, sprinkles, macaroons and and an edible chocolate spoon, its decadence surely left us craving for more.

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Don’t worry. You can sample it too as Freak Shakes are a permanent addition across all Di Bella outlets in Mumbai and the Melbourne Freak Shake will also be part of the menu for a limited period.

By the end of the session, we were all smiling gleefully (courtesy: sugar & caffeine rush!). Though we indulged a whole lot, it was surely worth all the calories!

Chocolate Hacks:
– Storage:
Chocolate should preferably be used at room temperature. Place them in a container and store in the fridge’s bottom-most drawer. Remove 2 hours before use so it maintains its smoothness.

– Cocoa Butter:
Cocoa Butter is a fatty substance obtained by cocoa beans used in confectionery and cosmetics like lipsticks, moisturizers etc. Low melted cocoa butter is used in chocolate.

– The Perfect Hot Chocolate:
A perfect hot chocolate is not made with cocoa powder. It is made by boiling milk and cream with little sugar which when boiled, is mixed in the couverture chocolate. While its hot, it should be strained and then served. If you decide to use alcohol, add either Cointreau, whiskey or brandy. Can also add cinnamon on top just before serving.

– What is Couverture?:
Couverture chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular eating chocolate. Upon receiving, it is melted and tempered properly. After the tempering process, one can add the flavor that needs to go inside the chocolate (For e.g. hazelnut).

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