This Easter we’ve teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) to help raise awareness about mental health in New Zealand and the help that is available for people experiencing mental health problems. Everyone has mental health and it’s important people know they are not alone and that they deserve to be supported.
The Mental Health Foundation covers the A-Z of mental health information and support, taking a holistic approach and promoting what they know makes and keeps people mentally well. They work in schools, workplaces and within the wider community, advocating for positive mental health and wellbeing through providing free support and resources, running campaigns and influencing policy.
One of tools the MHF promotes is mindfulness and we wanted to give you, our customers the opportunity to experience how powerful being mindful is, so we’ve put together a mindful eating exercise for you to try out while enjoying Honest Chocolat.
But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness basically means paying attention to what is presently occurring.
Research suggests that when we intentionally practise being mindful we feel less stressed, anxious and depressed, and more balanced and in tune with what is happening inside and outside of our bodies. The resulting calm and clarity boosts wellbeing, broadens perspective and provides an important foundation for learning.
So without further ado, peel open your favourite tablet of Honest Chocolat and give it a whirl…
Notice the colour of the chocolate. Does it have a reddish tinge or is it so dark it’s almost black? Look for the shine on the surface of the chocolate. If there are white marks on the chocolate this is known as blooming and is where the cocoa solids are separating from the fats within the chocolate. It's absolutely fine to still eat and certainly won't do you any harm, but it does affect the texture and mouthfeel of the chocolate (yes mouthfeel is a word!)
In the same way you smell a wine before taking a sip, if you smell chocolate it adds to the tasting experience. When you put the chocolate in your mouth you will be inadvertently smelling it anyway, through a process called retronasal olfaction, don't you know. When eating, the odour molecules travel from the back of the throat using the back entrance to the nose. This explains why you can’t taste properly when you have a cold.
Break the chocolate with your fingers and listen for that satisfying snap that indicates a well-tempered chocolate. Note the thickness of the bar and size of the squares and any textured pattern it has.
Now this requires some self-control not to wolf down the bar in one hit and then move on to the next one. You should let chocolate melt on the tongue to let the cocoa butter coat the palette and work with the bitterness of the cocoa solids. Notice how the flavour develops over time. Is the chocolate light/heavy, bitter/sweet, powdery/smooth, creamy/sharp? What flavours can you detect? Coffee / berries / smoke / caramel? Is the flavour long lasting or does it quickly vanish?
Now think about how this experience is different to how you would normally eat a bar of chocolate. Which gave you more satisfaction?
Don’t restrict your mindfulness to eating chocolate. Mindfulness can be applied to any food, thought, feeling, physical sensation, another person or things that are happening around you. By practising this over time you’ll strengthen your ability to pay attention, and you will feel more appreciative of the things around you.
To learn more about mindfulness please check out the Mental Health Foundation’s website on how to be more mindful.
You can enter our raffle online until Saturday 31st March 2018, for the chance to win an Honest Chocolat Giant Easter Egg and help to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. Enter here
We wanted to share this article in the NZ Herald about the health benefits of dark chocolate to help squash the rumours that chocolate is bad for you. Remember to always eat good quality dark chocolate like ours, to make sure it doesn’t contain all that nasty other stuff AND tastes amazing too! Otherwise what’s the point?!
Read the article HERE
1. We don't use dairy in our ganaches - that means the centres of our chocolate bonbons don't contain butter or cream. This gives a bright, clean and decadent tasting chocolate bonbon. Ideal for vegans or those looking for a healthier treat.
2. We don't use large amounts of sugar in our chocolates. We believe chocolates should taste like chocolate, not sugar. Because we use good quality ingredients we can keep things simple and honest, without adding all the nasty stuff that usually gets paired with chocolate!
3. Our bonbons are like works of art. Lots of people tell us the chocolates look too good to eat, but wait 'til you've tried them! Attention to detail goes a long way when you want to give a personal gift.
4. The chocolate we use is one of the finest in the world, and you can taste the difference! It is also direct trade and organic.
5. We don't use artificial flavourings. We only use natural ingredients in our chocolates.
6. Our chocolates are fresh! Not designed to sit on a shelf for a year, and why would you want to? We don't use preservatives in our chocolates to keep them as yummy and irresistible as possible.
7. We create amazing flavour combinations! Our chocolates are crafted by Nico Bonnaud, a pastry chef with 18 years of experience. If you're going to treat yourself, make it a good one!
8. None of our products contain palm oil! A cheap alternative used to replace cacao butter, we avoid the stuff like the plague because of the devastation it causes to the planet.
9. We can design and supply customised packaging for companies / events with a minimum order of 50 items! We work with you to find a solution that suits your budget and brand.
10. All our chocolates are made with love - hand crafted in our own custom built chocolate kitchen in sunny Snells Beach :)
Fair trade is about stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of farmers and workers around the world. The chocolate industry is undergoing a revolution. There are a number of organisations that aim to give chocolatiers and chocolate lovers a conscience when it comes to sourcing their chocolate. We aim to do the same.
Unless a chocolate company is 'bean to bar', where they have the facilities to process the beans, they will use chocolate couverture to turn into their amazing works of art. We think it is important to know where this comes from. Some of the more common brands of couverture that chocolatiers use that you may have heard of are Valrhona and Callebaut. Our couverture comes from a company called Original Beans. We're really excited to be working with such an amazing chocolate, not only because of the outstanding taste and the high quality but also because of the values that Original Beans maintain.
The last piece of chocolate that you ate – do you know where it came from? There is a complex supply chain in getting chocolate from the tree to that final product that you enjoy. Our chocolate is made using cacao sourced directly from the farmers. This avoids paying the middlemen, and means the farmers can be paid more. In turn this allows them to send another child to school and not use them for child labour, which is an issue that has been common in the chocolate industry. Original Beans obligates itself to pay the farmers more than the sixfold of the official fair-trade premium in exchange for high quality and ecological commitment. The farmers protect their environment and make a living from their land.
Original Beans have the same attitude towards chocolate as we do. Good cacao requires hardly any add-on ingredients to become the finest chocolate. Its all about the origin of the chocolate, the climate, the soil, and the way in which it is farmed. This is what the French call 'Terroir'. We believe chocolate deserves to be appreciated like a top wine or a fine coffee.
Learn more about the Virunga National Park here, where the chocolate originates from. We think it's really special.
Chocolate is like wine. Its flavour is affected by many different variables such as origin, climate, soil and processing techniques. This only gets you half way though. Then there is the work of the chocolatier that can transform that chocolate again by manipulating it in different ways and adding other ingredients. We believe, like all good things in life, good chocolate shouldn't be messed with too much, as it doesn't require large amounts of sugar or cream or artificial flavourings to make it taste good. To some people chocolate is all about the sweet sugary taste and with that kind of chocolate I say stick the whole lot in your cake hole and swallow it down as fast as possible. But with the real stuff we have some tips to make the most of it.
So how do you appreciate good chocolate? If you want to take it seriously gather up a selection of chocolate tablets to compare the difference. You could find plain 70% tablets from different origins and see how their flavour profiles differ. Try and get a range from supermarket to boutique to give you a broad spectrum and start by looking at the ingredients in each one. Do you know what each ingredient is? You may find something called ‘confectioners fat’. This is a generic term for fats used in items such as chocolate or other sweet treats, and could be anything from cocoa butter to palm oil. We say, why write ‘confectioners fat’ when you could write cocoa butter and be honest about it? There is no obligation on NZ chocolate manufacturers to declare their use of palm oil. It can also appear as ‘vegetable oil’ in lists of ingredients.
Number one rule with chocolate tasting is to make sure it is not cold out of the fridge. If your chocolate is too cold you won't be able to taste the full flavour. Room temperature is ideal. Chocolate should generally be stored between 16-18 degrees away from moisture and strong odours. It is also important to make sure you have a clean palette for a serious tasting session. Eat a slice of apple or some plain crackers and drink water. Now think about the way you taste wine, and I mean good wine. Now apply the same principles to chocolate.
Look at the colour of the chocolate. Does it have a reddish tinge or is it so dark it is almost black?
Look for blemishes on the surface of the chocolate. Is the bar shiny and smooth or does it have a dull matt appearance?
If there are white marks on the chocolate this is known as blooming and is where the cocoa solids are separating from the fats within the chocolate. It's absolutely fine to still eat and certainly won't do you any harm, but it does effect the texture and mouthfeel of the chocolate (yes mouthfeel is a word!)
In the same way you smell a wine before taking a sip this adds to the tasting experience. You can even go so far as to put it up your nose if you want - read our blog post from back in July Love is the Drug. When you put the chocolate in your mouth you will be inadvertently smelling it anyway, through a process called retronasal olfaction, don't you know. When eating, the odour molecules travel from the back of the throat using the back entrance to the nose. This explains why you can’t taste properly when you have a cold for example.
Break the chocolate with your fingers and listen out for that satisfying snap sound that indicates a well tempered chocolate. Note the thickness of the bar and size of the squares and any textured pattern it has.
Now this requires some self control so as not to woof down the bar in one hit, and then move on to the next one. You should let chocolate melt on the tongue so as to let the cocoa butter coat the palette and work with the bitterness of the cocoa solids. Notice how the flavour develops over time. Is the chocolate light/heavy, bitter/sweet, powdery/smooth, creamy/sharp? Is the flavour long lasting or does it quickly vanish?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, give yourself a gold star, you can move on to the more advanced level of chocolate pairing. This is basically a good excuse to just eat all your favourite things together at the same time. You’re welcome!
Obviously I'm going to start with wine. There is infinite possibilities with this one, as you can vary from milk to dark chocolate and from dry to fruity wines and work out what works together or not. Some argue that chocolate and wine don’t complement each other at all as they are in fact too similar. Both have bitter, astringent and sour flavours and so to put the two together can be overkill. It’s all about personal preference. We've recently partnered up with a local winery and made Brick Bay chocolates using their Martello Rock red wine. This is a Bordeaux blend and works well with our 70% chocolate.
Also try beer with chocolate. This is something we recently got into after using a friend’s home brew for making chocolate ganache. So goooood! The hoppy notes of a good pale ale work well with chocolate. Again it comes down to the type of beer and the type of chocolate. We have found dark chocolate to be the best pairing with beer. Also try different types of tea and coffee.
Spices work well with chocolate. Chilli has almost become as popular with chocolate as fruit and nut! We like to use seeds and herbs with chocolate as well. Savoury flavours are great with chocolate, another favourite is sea salt. We make our Organic Sea Salt chocolate tablet using a touch of Marlborough Sea Salt to bring out the flavour of the chocolate, rather than make you feel like you’ve poured a salt shaker in your mouth. Other savoury flavours that are worth a try with chocolate are bacon, olives and cheese! Sounds like an awesome idea for nibbles at your next gathering. Chocolate is also used in savoury dishes with gamey meats such as venison to bring a richness to the meal. And there’s your main course sorted!
Tasting chocolate can be as relaxed or as serious as you want it to be. Chocolate is after all meant to be enjoyable, so have some fun with it. A tasting party is a great excuse to indulge or you may prefer to block out all distractions and treat yourself to a private tasting for one on a Friday night. No judgement! Either way send us your tasting notes when you try our chocolate as we really appreciate feedback and love putting chocolatey smiles on your faces!