I’m sure you often have a sweet treat after a meal, as a snack, or while out for coffee. But do you ever stop to wonder about the chocolate that is in those desserts?
‘The term dessert can apply to many confections, such as biscuits, cookies, custards, ice creams, pastries, pies, puddings, macaroons, sweet soups, tarts, and fruit salad’ according to Wikipedia.
We all know that so many of those things can include chocolate, and that we do love and enjoy chocolate. I chose the term dessert over pastry as I think that it encompasses a broader range of items. I think chocolate is now used in so many things and really I am talking about all the things chocolate is in as a sweet treat or dessert. If you are enjoying a baked sweet treat it is likely a pastry chef who made it, not always, as chocolatiers and chocolate makers also often work on the pastry side of things as well.
Ordering a chocolate dessert always feels decadent, especially when it is full of many textures using one or more kinds of chocolate. A special something so many of us enjoy.
Do you ever think to ask where that chocolate came from?
I always ask. I want to know. Maybe it is a mass-produced chocolate that is easy to find and cheap and easy to bake with and was chosen for just that reason. Maybe the pastry chef put some thought into the dessert and sourced a fruity cacao origin to go alongside berries in the dish. I love asking because the answer can usually let me know how much thought was put into creating the dessert.
Hearing that a chocolate from a local chocolate maker is being used makes my face light up.
It’s very common that when we go to a high-end restaurant we are told where meat and vegetables are sourced. Maybe the chicken is from a free range farm nearby that the chef has visited. Perhaps the salad is hand picked a half hour away and changes seasonally. That a croissant was made with locally milled flour, butter from cows two hours away and chocolate made from the bean here in this city.
My wish is that chocolate used in all menu items would be seen the same.
Can you imagine? I can.
Ice cream made with single origin chocolate is amazing. Toss in some local berries and milk from a nearby farm and the flavours are so fresh. Knowing all these things about where it came from not only helps the person eating this treat to think local, but it encourages them also to shop locally. Maybe they didn’t know there is a U-pick nearby they can visit in the summer, or that yes, chocolate is sometimes made on a small scale nearby.
If we, if you and I, ask these questions more perhaps we will see more local products being used in our desserts. It’s as simple as asking:
Where is the chocolate in this from?
What kind of chocolate is used in this?
Most times people are really happy to answer these questions, and it creates awareness for the shop, restaurant, store, bakery, etc. that people want to know.
If you are a pastry chef and want to work with a local chocolate maker reach out. Many chocolate makers are happy to make couverture chocolate for pastry chefs, and may even allow you to help with some input into the finished product, or to work in collaboration to make something delicious happen with other local producers. Hopefully in the future we will see more baked goods, more sweet treats, more desserts made with chocolate that has been created to bring out the best flavours in the cacao beans, and supports the farmers growing the crops.
Many chocolatiers and chocolate makers also make dessert items as well as pastry chefs and chefs. I love seeing this area of baking and chocolate making cross over more and more. I hope the future sees more specialty desserts in shops, cafes, bistros and restaurants everywhere.
What do you think? What do you want to see more of?
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