This summer, Corner readers can pick up a series of sweet treats and delicious deals as part of our #mysweetsummer fun. The Cocoa Exchange is just one of the local businesses that we have teamed up with. Here we catch up with its founder Brendan O’Haron who tells us why we should never – ever – feel guilty about our love of the sweet stuff…
Tell us what makes The Cocoa Exchange chocolates different to any others…
The Cocoa Exchange never uses any artificial flavours or colours. It is 100 per cent natural. We seek out the best chocolate, check the consistency and blend the right flavours. Our chocolates have three distinct flavours: the taste of the chocolate, the taste of the filling, and the after-taste it leaves on your tongue. Any chocolate that doesn’t meet this rule does not make it into our range.
Your flavours run the gamut from opium to fennel – what’s your favourite and why?
My favourite chocolate is always my latest chocolate. My latest is always the ultimate chocolate until we come up with the next new chocolate. Our newest addition is Opium, and its unique flavour appears to reveal a different taste for each person who samples it; furthermore, the opium chocolate seems to change flavour from the first bite to the last bite.
Why shouldn’t you feel guilty about eating chocolate? Make the case!
Chocolate is one of the top three super foods. Chocolate is not fattening. Chocolate is not addictive. And chocolate does not consist of the fat and the sugar which we have come to associate with it as a result of mass manufacturing. Cocoa butter is water-soluble and is used in many skin cosmetics, if you put cocoa butter on your face it will disappear in five minutes. If you put dairy butter on your face you could swim to France and still have some residual dairy butter on your skin. Cocoa solid has the ability – proven beyond doubt – to improve blood circulation, to increase mental agility, to improve your mood and give you a sense of well-being.
Define the perfect chocolate…
The perfect chocolate has to snap – this is the result of correct tempering. It also has to have a natural shine, and its taste should be slightly fruity but then become slightly bitter, resulting in an overall perfect balance between bitter and sweet. Of our gourmet chocolates, the zesty lime with rock salt, the pure camomile with camomile-infused tea, the vervaine with a grassy refreshing sensation are some of the crowd favourites. But as far as the perfect chocolate goes, it’s different for everyone. Our fine champagne truffle with real champagne and a secret ingredient in the outer layer (which allows the truffle to fizz a little bit after a couple of minutes just like champagne bubbles) could be most people’s idea of a good time.
What makes you an old fashioned chocolate shop?
From the moment you walk through the door, the smell of chocolate, the darkened setting, the old furniture, and the gold plated platters of different varieties of gourmet chocolates; this is no supermarket, there is no basket. You will have a special experience, and something special to take home with you.
How and when did you decide to become a chocolatier? What inspired you?
My mother was a music teacher and she would receive boxes and boxes of chocolate, which landed on my bed. I loved opening all the different boxes of Milk Tray, Terries All Gold, Black Magic, but it was only when I was first given some pure chocolate that I realised what the difference was.
Apart from all the sampling and tasting, what other perks are there to being a chocolatier?
You meet the most beautiful people when you work as a chocolatier. Chocolate makes everyone happy and you are always welcome when you have a box of chocolates.
Any facts about chocolate you wish everyone knew?
I wish everyone knew that chocolate is not fattening. I wish everyone knew not to eat huge cakes, milky coffees, and gluten. I wish everyone knew that their life could be enhanced by always having a box of gourmet chocolates in their home and by savouring one or two each day.
Milk or dark?
Dark. Dark chocolate is the best, and a good dark chocolate can satisfy even the most ardent milk chocolate lover. An exception to this is when you combine nuts with fine milk chocolate, which will always create a sensational, satisfying flavour. Hand-roasted hazelnuts, almonds, and praline will always be a wonderful recipe with milk chocolate.
If you were a chocolate, what would you be and why?
I would be the opium chocolate because it’s exciting, it’s different, and it gives everybody a different flavour.
Visit www.cornermag.com/mysweetsummer to claim The Cocoa Exchange’s #mysweetsummer gift, as well as a host of other sweet Corner deals.