Busy in the test kitchen
Nico has been busy making batches of water ganache and testing different flavours. So far the clear favourite is lime and coconut milk (or mylk if you live in Ponsonby). The coconut gives the bonbon a creamy centre and the lime delivers a fresh burst of citrus that cuts through the rich chocolate.
He has also added desiccated coconut within the ganache to add some texture. Yuuuuum! Now he's just gotta work on how to make it look as good as it tastes :-)
On Sunday we went for a lovely long lunch at Brick Bay.
We justified the bottle of wine and dessert by walking the sculpture trail afterwards. We did the obvious guess the price game with all the sculptures and regularly liked the cheapest ones! What does that tell you?!
During our walk we got a bit peckish (the truffle oil fries obviously wasn't enough to maintain stamina on a 1 hour walk) so we snacked on some of the native leaves. We found kawakawa and what we think was kanuka, which led us to think about other flavour possibilities for our chocolates using foraged leaves and flowers.
Since then we've been doing some research and came across some chocolate dipped kawakawa fruit. Mmm...delicious! Can’t wait for summer when they are in season to try some.
Where we get our inspiration
We love New Zealand. After arriving here for the first time almost 10 years ago, we still believe it is the best country to live in. We fell in love with the ever changing and ever stunning landscapes and still pinch ourselves when we see the sky smattered with so many stars on a clear night or get a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow that stretches from one side of the sky to the other.
When we decided to start our business in this great land we wanted to find ways of making our product as Kiwi as a French man and an English girl could. We believe our Honest Chocolat represents the purity of the air and the water found here. And being foodies ourselves we know of many local growers and producers that we can work with to source good quality ingredients.
But we also wanted to come up with something that is even more Kiwi than that. Where better to find it than on our doorstep in the bush clad hills of Mahurangi. Drum roll please… kawakawa. We wanted to make a chocolate ganache using the medicinal native herb that would give a distinctly New Zealand flavour. The peppery and citrus notes are perfect at complimenting our chocolate.
Watch this space, as we develop our other New Zealand inspired pairings.
Word of the week - Ganache
Traditionally a ganache is made of varying ratios of chocolate and cream. It is French in origin (of course!) and is very versatile in its uses. It can be made thick for filling truffles or thin to act as a glaze for cakes. Here at Honest Chocolat we approach ganaches differently and simply use filtered water instead of cream. Many people think chocolate and water don’t mix but if the right techniques are used then the same indulgent, velvety texture can be achieved without any of the dairy.
But surely this results in a bitter dark chocolate that no one would actually choose to eat? Absolutely, if a crap chocolate has been used! With a water ganache the quality of the chocolate is no longer masked by the fat of the cream, so it cannot hide. We select great tasting chocolate with fine aromatic flavours that are brought to the fore by turning it into our ganache. The flavour is bright and clean, rich and decadent.
Added benefits are that our chocolates are vegan, gluten free and have less calories compared to a traditional ganache. We work with local suppliers of fruits, herbs and spices to come up with different flavoured truffles (the round ones) and bonbons (the square ones) and hand decorate them to make them look as good as they taste.
Autumn weekend walk
We visited Tawharanui Regional Park this weekend. We're so lucky to have it only a short drive from home. Looking forward to the access road being sealed and not having to spray the car down after a visit. (Ok if I'm honest it's now Thursday and we are still driving around with a muddy layer of half rain washed dust all over it. Luckily we don't have a flash car.)
We spent the day arguing the difference between a pukeko and a takehē. Apparently the takehēs are a lot bigger and have green feathers on their backs, in which case we only saw pukekos. We're not the only ones to struggle with seeing the difference. Last year, deer stalkers were hired by DOC to carry out a cull of the much more common pukeko. Four takahē were shot in a case of mistaken identity. This was a big deal considering there are only approximately 300 takahē in New Zealand.
Ten critically endangered takahē were moved from Fiordland to the predator free open sanctuary at Tawharanui in October 2014. Since then another 3 have been relocated from Tiritiri Matangi Island. We will be keeping our eyes peeled on our next visit.