Chocolate Not For the Faint of Heart

One of the perks of my job is that I often get to try new products and food items before they’re generally available. Last week, I was at a local restaurant called Cava for a chocolate and spirits pairing featuring the chocolates from Michel Cluizel, a French chocolatier that I particularly enjoy. The owner of Cava also runs a chocolate shop called Xococava, located next door to the restaurant, and when we left, all in attendance received a selection of chocolates from the shop, as well as this half dozen special edition collection made with some of the single origin chocolates from Michel Cluizel.

Xococava specializes in pushing the boundaries of the typical ganache filling and offers chocolates filled with chorizo sausage, black olive, black trumpet mushroom and sumac, to name but a few of their 25 regular offerings. The selection shown above was created specifically for the tasting event I attended, but chef Christopher McDonald and chocolatier Laura White mentioned that it might also be available for the holidays.

Lemon design – Mangaro filled with lemon preserve and pine nut oil. The Mangaro chocolate from Madagascar has citrus and vanilla notes that paired fantastically well with the lemon preserve. This was probably my favourite of the whole collection.

Etoile design – Conception filled with long pepper ganache. Conception is woody and earthy – I didn’t get much pepper from this really.

Snowflake design – Villa Gracinda filled with quince and smoked paprika. I’m still not sure what to think of this one. Loved the quince paste, not so much the smoked paprika which was a bit overpowering to the point where the flavours in the chocolate disappeared under the smokiness.

Zest design – milk Mangaro with Los Ancones cocoa nibs and esplette pepper. The caramel, ginger and honey notes of this chocolate paired well with the pepper and cacao nibs. Nice texture with this one.

Marguerite design – Los  Ancones filled with agen prune and balsamic. Really enjoyed this one – the prune and the balsamic picked up the green olive and currant flavours in the chocolate exceptionally well.

Raspberry design – Maralumi filled with olive oil ganache. Maralumi is my very favourite of the Cluizel single-origin chocolates, but I don’t think it was well-served with this filling. The olive oil ganache had a very greasy texture that distracted me from enjoying the chocolate and allowing it to melt on the tongue. The flavours were okay though.

So it was about 50/50 for me in terms of which ones I’d like to try again. Of course, the ones I disliked might be more to someone else’s taste, that’s the great thing about trying new items that push the boundaries as the offerings at Xococava do. But I’m certainly very happy to have had the opportunity to try these creations – after all, it’s chocolate, and you can’t go wrong there.