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Written by Sukanya Nandy | New Delhi | Updated: October 15, 2018 2:30:51 pm

chocolate, how to make chocolate, chocolate making process, chockriti chocolates, pascati chocolate, pragati sawhney, devansh asher, indian express, indian express news

Chocolate-making is not as sweet as it sounds. (Source: Thinkstock/Getty Images)

The smell and look of chocolates can make your mouth melt but ever thought about the hard work that goes into making these sweet delicacies? Chocolatiers Pragati Shawney of Chockriti and Devansh Ashar of Pascati Chocolate spoke to indianexpress.com about the difficulties faced every day during chocolate-making.

While Sawhney was shocked by the way Indians were making chocolates, Ashar’s love for them motivated him to start his chocolate journey.

Edited excerpts:

Dr Pragati Sawhney, Founder, Chockriti Chocolates

What inspired you to start Chockriti?

In 2011, when I moved to India, I chanced upon a “professional” chocolate workshop and was surprised to see how chocolates were made. The instructor melted the chocolate, added one cup of vegetable oil, one cup of white sugar and commercial coloured essences that are unhealthy ingredients. I later also learned that the chocolate used was not even chocolate (made from cacao that comes from Cacao trees) but compound chocolate made with chocolate flavoured powder, milk powder, waxes and sugar (also called fake chocolate outside India).

Everywhere I went all over India, chocolates were made with these ingredients even by big brands and high-end hotels. This didn’t make sense to me as chocolatiers around the world are celebrated and the products not only tasted different from my experiences abroad but were very expensive. I further found, very few culinary professionals were fully trained in chocolate skills at that time.

As a public health professional, I was concerned and read for months on chocolate. Through my access to international public health journals, I also studied the science and clinical trials on patients that consumed dark chocolate. What was consistent was that chocolate containing over 72% cacao had the ability to reduce blood sugar, diabetes, cardiac diseases, depression and boost overall well-being. What we were getting in India was less than 10% cacao.

chocolate, how to make chocolate, chocolate making process, chockriti chocolates, pascati chocolate, pragati sawhney, devansh asher, indian express, indian express news

(Source: Chockriti)

After looking at many chocolate brands in India, I also found no creativity in chocolate products nor any innovation in flavours, besides no health benefits what so ever. This is when I started experimenting with real cacao and tried to make chocolates with natural ingredients like organic teas, flowers, herbs, spices, and whole fruits.

Can you take us through the process of chocolate making?

Chocolate making is different from chocolatier-ing. Chocolate makers literally make chocolate out of cacao beans from cacao trees. The process involves roasting, winnowing, conching, grinding cacao beans and later tempering and aging the cacao liqueur extracted. Chocolatier-ing is a process of making artistic chocolate confectionery out of fine cacao prepared by chocolate makers. The process involves tempering, creating hollow shells, making flavored ganache fillings with various ingredients, enrobing, and creating final touches to each piece (Bon Bon’s), truffles, or bars through garnishes, colored cacao, and transfer sheets.

chocolate, how to make chocolate, chocolate making process, chockriti chocolates, pascati chocolate, pragati sawhney, devansh asher, indian express, indian express news

Kaaju Kulfi and Banaras Paan. (Source: Chockriti)

Where do you import your ingredients from?

Most of our ingredients are imported from Europe and US from cacao — cream to the organic teas, flowers, spices, and herbs. We use some local ingredients like rose preserve, cardamons, and saffron.

If you weren’t a chocolatier, what would you be doing?

I would have done any other creative arts like creative writing, costume designing, theater, crafts, if possible along with my healthcare career.

What are your best selling chocolate flavours?

Our original Indian flavors are best selling like Banaras Paan, Kaaju Kulfi, Thandai, Gajjak, Moti Choor. However, we sell a lot of Sea Salt Caramel, Lavender, Moroccan Mint and Almond Sea Salt 72% cacao bars.

Any surprising or offbeat flavours that are not usually associated with chocolates?

Zaatar, African Rooibos Tea, Shittake Mushroom, Wasabi, Rosemary with Olive oil. In 2011, Banaras Paan gananche bar was very offbeat, now everyone makes something with paan flavors.

What is the hardest part about making chocolates?

Hand tempering is hardest part but finish is best. We have a machine but we find hand tempering results the best. Since we don’t use preservatives, storing our chocolates properly to ensure high shelf life is hard.

Any personal favourites?

My personal favorite is Lavender made with pure organic dried lavender flowers, which I personally get from abroad.

Devansh Ashar, Co-founder, Pascati Chocolate

What inspired you to start Pascati?

I am from the hospitality background (worked as a Restaurant Manager at Taj Falaknuma as my last assignment). I joined my family business for a year but found it to be not so challenging. Then I started looking for ideas to start up and was quite sure that I had wanted to be in the food business. I love chocolates and one fine day as I was biting in to a Lindt bar, it made me wonder what made the chocolate so velvety and luscious. This led me to research on chocolate making and bean to bar chocolates. To understand the science of chocolate making better, I took a Canadian online course in chocolate making by Ecole Chocolat.

Can you take us through the process of chocolate making?

Bean to bar chocolate process controls all the stages of chocolate making from raw material to finished product. Pascati is among only a handful of chocolate makers in the world that controls every step of this art of fine chocolate making. Batch after batch of the finest cocoa beans sourced from select plantations are roasted, cracked, winnowed, conched and tempered in a carefully controlled environment. The cocoa butter used in our chocolate is extracted from the beans we process. Only certified organic ingredients of high quality make the grade to help achieve flavours of complexity and finesse.

Where do you import your ingredients from?

We are USDA Organic certified and Fairtrade compliant chocolate maker. We source a majority of our ingredients from India itself.

Sourced from India:

certified organic Indian cacao (Kerala),

certified organic Indian cane sugar (Uttarakhand),

certified organic walnuts and almonds,

certified organic spices like cinnamon, ginger powder, sea salt, and

certified organic vanilla.

Sourced from US:

Certified organic flavour oils,

Certified organic hazelnuts and pistachios.

If you weren’t a chocolatier, what would you be doing?

Be a part of the hotel industry in India.

What are your best-selling chocolate flavours?

Orange Cinnamon Hazelnut, Rose and Almond are among the best-selling flavors.

Any surprising or offbeat flavours that are not usually associated with chocolates?

Blueberry Walnut and Lemon Ginger.

What is the hardest part about making chocolates?

Sorting cacao beans once they arrive. Salty and over fermented beans are separated from the batch to be further roasted. The unwanted beans, if used, provide a acidic and “off” taste to the final chocolate.

Any personal favourites?

72% dark and 81% dark are my favourites.

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