Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BlackForest Chocolates by Shilpi Chawla

Remember the chocolate exhibition at OOTB, Powai I attended a few days ago? Well, the exhibition was by BlackForest Chocolates by Shilpi Chawla and since her offerings looked and tasted so promising at the exhibition, I brought back some home to taste and review at leisure. I picked up Blueberry milk chocolate, Mava paan dark chocolate, milk chocolate chikki, Oreo Bark and Fresh apple and cinnamon sugarfree chocolate.

Shilpi Chawla

I also brought home some warm impressions of Shilpi's enthusiasm for her chocolate business. I was intrigued and wanted to know some more about her foray into this arena. Our email tête-à-tête follows:

1. When and how did you get into the chocolate making business?
In 2008. During Navratras, ( it's an auspicious time of the year) I fasted and asked the divine to send 'something' meaningful my way. I had quit my corporate career and wanted to indulge in a fulfilling activity that was flexible in every aspect.

I stumbled upon some recipes and started making chocolates. I got a lot of appreciation and my first big order was for Ferns n Petals during Valentine's season. In 2011 I gave it a formal brand and started exploring more flavours, tastes, blends...the journey continues!

2. Where do you make your chocolates? Do you have any help?
I make my chocolates in the BlackForest Kitchen and that would be my home. :)
I do have basic help and I would hire based on size of the project for e.g. weddings, etc.

3. What's your vision for BlackForest Chocolates?
Every time I bake a cupcake or finish a batch of chocolates, I feel happy looking at what I created! Therefore, my vision for BlackForest is to do great flavours, quality products (I recently took a course on Belgium chocolates n cupcakes) and create with love as much as I can!

4. Why the pick this name for your brand?
Two reasons: I am very inspired by the BlackForest cake which has many layers and textures. On a Master Chef episode, I noticed that it wasn't easy to make one. BlackForest also happens to be a mountain range in Germany that provides the special liquor to make the cherries that are used in the BlackForest cake.

5. What are your specialities? Which are your most popular chocolates?
 I do many flavours - Chocolate Chikkis (caramalised roasted Hazelnuts n Strawberries or caramalised roasted Almonds n Blueberry), Indian flavours like Mawa Paan, Supari chocolate and Calcutta Paan, and Coconut Creme. Mawa Paan is a hot seller and amongst cupcakes, eggless chocolate with butter cream icing!

You can get more details on my website (Note that the stickers on the chocolates say BACKforest chocolates, but ignore the misprint!)

Of the assortment, I tried the Blue Berry milk chocolate first and found it rather mild in flavour. I mean, if you didn't know you were eating Blueberry chocolate or didn't pay close attention to it, you would probably miss the flavour entirely. Also, the fact that it is milk chocolate pushes it a notch down on my palate love.

Rating: 2.5/5

The next on the list was the White Chocolate Chikki. Even though it is milk chocolate, I like it for the sheer inventiveness in name. It's not really 'chikki' or Florentine as we understand it. To me, it simply was white chocolate with nuts in it. The edible glitter on the top makes it look appealing, but the taste experience is just so.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Mawa Paan Dark Chocolate is easily one of my favourites. The Mawa Paan flavour comes out strongly, as it is wont to do and the dark chocolate is smooth and balances it well. I think it makes for a great modern-day replacement for paan at Indian weddings, as not too many young people like it these days. And combined with chocolate, the traditional mouth-freshening item doubles up as a dessert as well No wonder it is one of Chawla's popular products.

Rating: 3.5/5

3-in-1 chocolate

The next was the 3-in-1 mixed chocolate bar that looks oh-so-pretty with its swirls of dark, milk and white chocolate. While it looks great in transparent packaging, the taste is quite uniform. You can't really tell the three types of chocolate apart and it scores an average for me on the taste test.

Rating: 3/5

Fresh apple cinnamon sugarfree chocolate

Last but not the least was the Fresh Apple Cinnamon Sugarfree Chocolate. To me, this was definitely the star of the BlackForest Chocolate line. I was immensely impressed by it when I tasted it at the exhibition and was impressed some more when I tried it at home. While it does not look all that great, with its slightly gooey and lumpy texture, it tastes absolutely fabulous. What I loved most about it is that unlike other sugar-free chocolates in the market that rely on artificial sweeteners, Chawla's chocolate uses completely natural fruit and spice sugars. The natural sweetness of the apple and cinnamon lend themselves beautifully to the chewy chocolate and taste absolutely delightful. My only grouse with this one are the small, hard flakes of what seemed like apple skin. With a little refinement and marketing, this product can become a massive hit among diabetic and weight-watching chocolate lovers. 

Rating: 4/5

Visit to know more and place orders.

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