Wine & Dine
PHOTO: JEAN-PAUL HEVIN

PLAN AU CHOCOLAT

AMANDA STRANG visits her favourite chocolate shops in town, savouring the best of the bon-bons

JEAN PAUL HÉVIN
JEAN PAUL HÉVIN is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) and anidol for me. He’s now based in Japan, wherefinancial newspaper Nikkei Shinbun rankshim as the premier chocolatier in Japan. Hissweet treats are also available at his shops inHong Kong.

Chocolate Amer Macaroons
These are my favourite macaroons in Hong Kong, with a great chocolat amer (bitter chocolate) – crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, exactly how a macaroon should be. Normally I’m not a big fan of macaroons; they’re often too sweet, which is why I go for the bitter chocolate. In 2005, these chocolate macaroons were elected the best in Paris.

Chocolate Cigar
This would make a great gift for a male friend. It’s powdered chocolate packed together and shaped like a cigar. Once you bite into it, it just crumbles into your mouth and melts on your tongue – not a bad way to quit cigars, if you ask me!

Thin Chocolate Rounds
An assortment of thin chocolate rounds, this includes dark chocolate, milk, coffee, or milk-caramel with refined salt palets (flower of salt). The coffee one is probably my favourite. I love how the thin rounds crack inside your mouth, and you can really taste the quality of cocoa used.

Vintage Chocolate Bars
This is the perfect way to train your palate and discover which kind of cocoa beans you prefer. There’s a huge variety – hailing from Ecuador, Venezuela, Trinidad and at least another eight regions. I used this method to try different cocoa beans from different countries, so now I know which kind of chocolates – or at least in which direction to start – when I am standing in front of a huge counter.

Chocolate Spread
The traditional one is my favourite, and it’s also a real upgrade from Nutella. If you’re going to have something sinful in your diet, then go for the best, and go all the way (on a warm piece of toast with sliced bananas – yummy).

LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT
OPENED IN 1977 by Robert Linxe, a chocolatier who trained in France and Switzerland, La Maison du Chocolat is one of the most famous and established chocolate shops in the world.

Chocolate Eclair
It’s really hard to find eclairs in Hong Kong, but luckily La Maison du Chocolat has them, and even in Paris they’re considered among the best. The choux pastry is firm – a quality not easy to sustain in Hong Kong’s humidity – with a smooth chocolate filling that’s not too heavy. The glacage on top of the éclair is not too sweet. It’s always the simplest desserts that satisfy my cravings the most.

Plain Truffles
These are probably my favourite truffles, with just the right blend of cocoa beans. Try the cognac truffles, too – the cognac really complements the quality of the type of chocolate used. Each truffle is coated with powdered chocolate and small enough not to make me feel too guilty, but strong enough to satisfy my palate. Remember, high-quality chocolates should not be stored in the fridge – if you have a wine fridge, that would be ideal.

Arriba Chocolate Ganache
A pure ganache covered with a thin layer of chocolate couverture. The cocoa bean used for the ganache has a hint of fruit. I love how these little squares melt in your mouth, as well as the aftertaste that remains long afterwards. Even the scent that comes out on your breath after eating these is pleasant.

Traviata
My favourite praline chocolate from this shop is made with caramelised almonds. I love the textures of this chocolate – crunchy, smooth and crackling.

TEUSCHER
CREATED BY ADOLF TEUSCHER in 1947, this is one of the most famous chocolate houses in Switzerland. It’s most famous for its champagne truffles, but these are not my favourite. I love the little chocolate gift boxes, either shaped like animals or covered with flowers, with adorable little drawers in the two-layer design.

Triple Chocolate Truffle
Teuscher is serious about its triple chocolate truffle – it’s a very powerful piece of chocolate. Chocolate ganache covered with a layer of chocolate and sprinkled with powdered chocolate on top. Love it, love it, love it!

Dark Nougat Truffle
A chocolate ganache, a layer of nuts and nougats, all coated with chocolate. This is another treat that plays a lot with texture – smooth, chewy, crunchy. I love how I discover these different layers of textures while I’m biting into this little delight.

Chilli in Dark Chocolate Bar

For those of you who are more adventurous, try this for fun. You’ll be surprised at how these two flavours can compliment each other. It’s a smooth melting chocolate with a kick.