Sweet somethings

Chocolate makers are creating fine treats that are far from your corner-store confections.

Oh, how we love the rich taste of chocolate. Now, however, there’s even more to adore about this sweet treat. Chocolate makers in Canada are creating bars with surprisingly complex flavours. “The world of chocolate is expanding and developing,” says Doreen Pendgracs, the Manitoba-based author of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.


While chocolatiers whip up delicious truffles, flavoured bars and heart-shaped confections, they melt down pre-made chocolate and focus on presentation and adding flavour. That’s different from chocolate makers, who create chocolate directly from beans and often craft single-origin bars.


A chocolate’s flavour is influenced by the soil, the amount of rain and how the farmer ferments and sun-dries cacao beans. Chocolate makers import the beans, roast and process them, then add ingredients such as sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla. “The craftsperson and the way he or she works with the bean will impact the taste,” says Pendgracs. For instance, Soul Chocolate in Toronto adds only organic cane sugar and ages chocolate for two weeks.


Before you indulge, be warned: the price is much higher than your corner-store Mars bar. Soul Chocolate sells a 28g bar for $5. That covers the partially manual process chocolate maker Katie Wilson undertakes, and how she sources her raw materials. “We get high-quality cacao and we pay our farmers more [than industry standard],” says Wilson.


To start tasting, Pendgracs recommends a grocery-store Lindt single-origin bar. “There’s no point in starting with a $30 bar. You won’t have the taste buds to appreciate the difference,” she says.


Consider a treat such as a Dominican Republic bar; Soul’s notes say it tastes of caramel, honey and grape. Similarly easy to eat, Ecuadorian chocolate tends to be less acidic with a slightly floral taste. Then, move on to the company’s most popular bar, from Madagascar; it’s rich with tastes of jam, red fruit and citrus.


When you taste, let a small square melt in your mouth. Pair with coffee, red wine, beer, whisky or bourbon. Or, taste it on its own with just a little water to cleanse your palate. You don’t need much to get your fix. “I find it satisfies my cravings quicker than other chocolate,” says Wilson. “I don’t want to eat as much.”