'Just lick any leftovers' and other crucial tips from a Swiss chocolatier
It’s all in the snap
Switzerland is to chocolates what Adele is to music, once you’ve had a taste of Swiss chocolate, nothing else seems to match up. And luckily for me, my Willy Wonka fantasy came true thanks to a trip organised by Switzerland Tourism. Interlaken was the first stop on our trip, making me feel like I had time-travelled into a Yash Chopra movie.
Lush green grass you just want to roll on, teal waters you can spend hours staring at while sitting on a bench and devouring a delicious bar of chocolate, quaint cottages and cafes that serve the best artisanal beer (and if you are looking for a non-alcoholic option, you definitely need to try Rivella)… every angle you take a picture from has breathtaking views of the mountains, including the stunning Jungfrau summit. All I needed was a chiffon sari and a jukebox to be living my Bollywood dreams.
The Funky Chocolate Factory was the highlight of our stay in Interlaken. It’s a beautifully designed Swiss chocolate store very close to the centre of the city and at walking distance from most of the hotels. I’d suggest booking a class beforehand so you don’t miss out on this unique experience.
Dorota ‘Dori’ Kravcakova, head chocolatier at Funky Chocolate club was a complete delight. We were served a delicious cup of hot chocolate with a mini mountain of marshmallows to warm us up before she took us on a tasting tour, and answered every question about chocolate we could think of. The highlight of the experience? I got to create my own bars of delicious Swiss chocolate.
Everything you’ve wanted to ask a Swiss chocolate expert
Whenever my Switzerland wali bua brings over my Lindt hoard, the slabs end up completely squished and melted. What’s the right way to travel with chocolate?
The best way to carry around your chocolate while travelling is to keep it at room temperature. So, if you’re moving from accommodation to accommodation or you’re driving between places, bring it out of your car and leave it in your hotel room.
If you’re flying back, what works best is wrapping the chocolate in newspaper and putting it between your clothes as checked-in luggage, which is stored in the bottom of the plane.
Once you’re back home, put it in the coldest and darkest cupboard in your kitchen.
What makes good chocolate good ?
First, always snap your chocolate, break it and listen to the sound. The sound is very important because that’s an indication of good quality. The louder the snap, the better the quality of chocolate.
The snapped piece should be nice and clean, no extra bubbles or chipping on the chocolate where the break is.
And lastly, melt the chocolate against the back of your hands. When you melt it against the back of your hands, it shows you exactly what is in the chocolate. If you have like a powdery layer of coco on your hand, that’s what you want. If the layer is more greasy, fatty or oily that means your chocolate is very high in sugar .
What are those white spots on my chocolate? Can I still eat it?
It’s not fungus, it’s just the result of the temperature the chocolate is stored at. The white spots that appear all over chocolate is cocoa butter from cocoa beans.
Cocoa butter is made from cocoa beans and is very sensitive to extreme heat or cold.
So if you leave your chocolates somewhere too hot or too cold, like inside the refrigerator, there’s always a chemical reaction happening inside the chocolate called separation. During separation, the cocoa butter separates and rises to the surface of your chocolate. It’s still safe to eat.
Does chocolate expire?
Good quality chocolate expires quicker than maybe a chocolate bar that costs Rs 100 because those kinds of chocolates usually have lots of chemical preservatives in them. Fresh chocolate usually has a lifespan of somewhere between 15 to 16 months.
A sign to look out for is when the chocolate kind of crumbles down and dries out a little bit. It will start tasting powdery.
2 tips for home bakers experimenting with Swiss chocolate
- Always have a functional thermometer– Use the thermometer to check the temperature of your chocolate. You don’t want to cool it down too much or overheat it either. Ideally you want it to drop down from 45 to 30 degrees Celsius.
- Prevent water from mixing with chocolate – Even a small drop of water falling into your bowl can cause it to break down a molecule of chocolate which will hamper how it looks eventually. Don’t keep washing your hands. Instead, just lick any leftovers.
An easy chocolate fondue recipe you can try at home
- 250 gms Swiss chocolate chips
- Fresh fruit or marshmallows per taste
Take around 220-250 gms of Swiss chocolate chips or chop up a bar into tiny pieces.
The easiest method to melt chocolate is to melt it in the microwave with 30-second intervals. Keep the heating period to a maximum of three minutes so that you don’t end up burning the chocolate.
After every 30 seconds, take out the bowl and stir it to see how chunky the chocolate is. Repeat the process until you have a liquid consistency.
An alternative to the microwave is using a double boiler where you heat a pot of boiling water and place a smaller pot on top and keep stirring the chocolate until it’s completely melted .
Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into a fondue pot which has a tiny space underneath for a tea light. The candle helps to keep the chocolate warm.
Devour the sinful dessert with some fresh fruit, marshmallows or bread.