Claire Rowan is group technical editor, magazines, FoodBev Media. This is a personal blog and views expressed are her own.
Sourcing its chocolate from the finest Venezuelan cocoa beans, Maison du Chocolat of Paris, London and further afield, takes a year to fine tune and sign-off each new chocolate product introduction for its dedicated outlets.
The very special chocolate used to create Maison du Chocolat’s selection of fresh, cream & chocolate based ganache filled confections, is produced by its French parent company Valrhona Chocolate, which uses its expertise to enhance the flavour of cocoa without its usual inherent bitterness.
“Maison du Chocolat is all about the ingredients. You can burn cocoa beans much as you can burn coffee and create an unpleasant bitterness, but our creative director sources and blends all different types of cocoa beans and carefully creates a chocolate that is rich and delicious,” said Alex Yezril, UK director of Maison du Chocolat, who confirmed during the Clementine Communications event in London that one of the company’s latest successful formulations is the Andalucian chocolate, which features a rich Andalucian lemon infusion of flavour in the ganache.
“We only sell our chocolates through our own shops and all are made by hand in our facilities in Paris then shipped to our shops all over the world. Chocolate requires special attention and we have to guarantee that each Maison du Chocolate product is of the quality the consumer expects – and that the flavour never changes,” said Yezril.
The ganache is cut by hand or with a ‘guitar’ (stringed instrument that slices through the ganache slab to make individual pieces), and then enrobed with a ‘couverture’ (thin layer of 60/70% cocoa chocolate) to seal it, with the couverture being poured over the top of the ganache pieces while the bottom halves are immersed in a chocolate bath to enrobe the entire piece.
There are 30 standard flavours in the Maison du Chocolat range, but seasonal and novel flavours are added from time to time.
“It takes one year to create and approve a new flavour. We may introduce a special box for the Chinese market for Chinese new year, for example, or bring back flavours from the other countries to build on our range, but otherwise the basic flavours remain constant,” said Yezril, who highlighted Uzu citrus flavour from Japan or mint from Corisca as a couple of recent seasonal additions.
As Yezril stresses, with the chocolates having a shelf life of only four weeks and being so labour intensive to make, education of consumers to appreciate the quality is key. As such, Maison du Chocolat experiments with ‘pop-up’ shops in locations such as Heathrow airport in the UK, for example, to give greater visibility and the opportunity to interact with consumers.
At the end of the day ‘the proof is in the pudding’ and the chocolates I tried during the press event were delicious!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019