Chocolate lovers like it rough.
No need for inclusions, sweet additions or flavorings. Sugarcoating is not their style. They are badasses. They can easily handle cacao and sugar alone. THAT’s the real deal! Tasting the essence of pure cacao without intruders. 100% cacao is only for baking? Then you are not part of their league.
But there are moments when even the toughest are in need of a gentler flavor or an intriguing combination. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion. Chocolate lovers don’t wait for special occasions, they create them. Willing to spend up to $12 for 2oz of fine chocolate, they won’t accept boring or disappointing added flavors into the equation.
So chocolate makers and chocolatiers have to keep delighting, surprising and innovating. The pressure is damn high! It’s not the sweet business that everybody think of. If there was a statistic, I’d bet that a new chocolate brand was born every day in the World. That’s a lot of competition. Chocolate companies need to be aware of what they put on the market. No matter how proud they are of their products, customers’ taste buds are the final and most powerful judges.
The taste of their chocolate can be interesting, make you wonder, confuse you, surprise you, but it MUST be pleasant to the palate to see the light of success.
When it comes to chocolate with inclusions (flavors added to cacao and sugar), chocolate professionals dictate the rules. Then chocolate lovers decide if to approve them or have them changed. This is how trends are born.
In 2015 the main trends were ginger, lavender, espresso, hibiscus and sea salt.
This year? Let’s find out.
1) ASIAN INGREDIENTS – exotic, intriguing, mostly sour.
Especially after coming back from a trip to Asia, chocolate professionals are getting inspired by the challenge. Many chocolatiers now try to include strong flavors like miso, wasabi and soy sauce into truffles and bonbons. Caramel is often the key to make everything go well together. Matcha green tea is also another popular flavor.
The result is a pleasant break from the usual, predictable sweetness. Companies famous for their innovative touch like 5D Chocolates, Dancing Lion Chocolate and Chocolate Moderne are already adopting many ingredients inspired by the Asian cuisine. If you are a regular client of fusion restaurants, you will enjoy these intriguing combinations.
2) RASPBERRY – fruity, delicate, refreshing.
Chocolate bars with raspberry inclusions are not new to the market, but this trend is exploding these days. This flavor included in dark chocolate seems to be a match made in heaven. It is also often accompanied by floral flavors like rose and violet.
Some brands use raspberry oil for an intense aroma (TAZA Chocolate). Others opt for raspberry powder that blend well with chocolate (Amano Chocolate). Some others decide to spoil chocolate lovers with chunks of dried raspberries (V-Plantations). However you prefer it, raspberry flavored chocolate seems to make everybody agree.
3) TURMERIC – gingery, pungent, colorful.
Indian spices are now taking over not only kitchens, but also chocolate laboratories. Moreover, chocolate bars that include superfoods grow in popularity every day. Given its beneficial properties, it’s no big surprise that turmeric is becoming the favorite ingredient for health-oriented brands like Yes Cacao and Rawclates.
It pairs incredibly well with dark chocolate, sometimes giving the bar a yellow color depending on the quantity used. Mostly used together with other herbs, its distinctive flavor doesn’t pass unnoticed. If you haven’t tried turmeric in chocolate, chances are you will be surprised by a pleasant discovery.
4) CARDAMOM – herbal, citrusy, strong.
After vanilla and saffron, cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice. However, its price hasn’t stopped chocolate professionals from turning it into a trending inclusion. Popular in both dark and white chocolate, this herb has a very distinctive flavor that sharply divides consumers in lovers and haters.
Between those who love it, we definitely find European chocolate brands. Zaabar, Rococo Chocolates and Rozsavologyi Csokolade have made very successful chocolate bars with cardamom. Probably a taste that many people are not acquired to, it is definitely worth a try.
5) FIGS – chewy, sweet, moist.
Even if it sounds like an easy match, chocolate professionals have to be careful with this ingredient. The balance between the figs and the sugar has to be perfect in order to avoid an overload of sweetness. When well-done, this combination doesn’t have any problem in meeting consumers’ taste and approval. No wonder this pairing is trending so well.
What chocolate flavor trend is YOUR favorite?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.