Join Nikhil Merchant on an exotic chocolate trail
No one can resist a piece of decadence every now and then. From cognac to pure gold, some of the most exotic chocolates are also some of the most expensive treats.
In 2009, Fritz Knipschildt, Maitre Chocolatier of Knipschildt Chocolatier from Norwalk, Connecticut created the most expensive truffle in the world. A mini meteorite weighing 42 gm or 1.5 ounce was hand-crafted using dark chocolate, a French Périgord truffle (a rare mushroom) and a classic ganache recipe and. The ganache was made using luscious 71% single Ecuadorian dark chocolate mixed with fresh cream, that had been infused for 24 hours with the highest quality of vanilla pods and pure Italian truffle oil. At a price tag of US$ 250 a piece, Knipschildt‘s La Madeline au Truffle was recognized by Forbes magazine as the most expensive chocolate in the world, in 2009. What makes the truffle so exquisite is the time and energy invested in creating it.
Fritz who combines old European craftsmanship, intriguing avant-garde flavour combinations and state-of-theart handpicked natural ingredients to create artistic customised chocolate pieces says, “The ganache, is whipped repeatedly to make it as soft and silky as possible, then chilled so that it is easier to work with. It’s a long and painstaking process and when you realise how much work has gone into it, you are convinced that it is worth every penny”. These special truffles are at least two inches in diameter and each one is individually wrapped in a gold bag.
From Connecticut, let’s fly to the chocolate capital of the world— Switzerland. How would you like it if you received a bag with edible gold and silver truffles from Switzerland’s most luxurious chocolate confectioner, DeLafée. Founded in 2004 by Sébastien Jeanneret, De-Lafée is based in Neuch'tel, Switzerland. DeLafée takes pride in creating chocolateswith two strong local traditions: chocolate and gold.
DeLafée’s chocolates adorned with edible 24-carat gold are made with Equador’s Grand Cru chocolates. Their signature collection is a box of eight gold-covered chocolates, which comes with a collectible antique Swiss gold coin, that was minted at the Swiss Central Bank around the years 1910-1920. Priced at approximately £ 255, this is one expensive chocolate affair.
Our next stop is Victoria, Australia. Trust them to be a chocolate-crazy country, especially after The Yarra Valley in Victoria hosted Australia’s first Hot Chocolate Festival, to help winter visitors warm up to The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, the home of Panny’s Chocolate.
Panny or Kondanapanny Letchumanan, owner and head chocolatier at the chocolate factory churns out over 190 delectable varities of chocolate-covered treats. White Chocolate Truffles, which is created from a secret recipe is their most expensive and signature chocolate. These truffles are handmade using premium Belgium chocolate with the finest white ganache, cream, milk and fine sugar coated with milk chocolate. Their truffles come in exotic flavours such as cognac, rum and the ever-popular vanilla amongst others. They use a secret method, which takes a detailed 72 hours in completing the process. These truffles are pure and contain no chemicals, no gluten, no animal fat, honey or preservative.
Trust the Japanese to do everything with perfection. Their popular chocolate brand, Royce, is a much sought-after chocolate amongst aficionados especially since it boasts of exceptional quality and taste. Royce’s Criollo is the most expensive chocolate offering, which is now available in India. It is made from the Criollo bean, which is the rarest and most expensive cocoa bean in the world. The bean is known for its complex flavour redolent of almond, caramel and fruity notes. This bean is sourced from Sur del Lago, south of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela.
The Indian palate has evolved over time with luxurious offerings from chocolatiers like these and thus, chocolates with complex flavour profiles like the Criollo range are being sold in copious amounts in India.
Nikhil Merchant is a gourmet consultant, food writer and blogger (Nonchalant Gourmand) and strives to wed the flavours of food to the myriad moods of life.