52 Collins Street
] link: kokoblack.com
The last of the dessert degustations held in Melbourne for the year as part of their Winter Evenings of Chocolate. The entire salon was cosy and intimate, set up for chocolate aficionados & chocolate lovers, brought together through collectively marvelling & sighing at the head pastry chef & the executive chocolatier’s flair, to revelling in the gorgeous chocolate creations set before us, finally reduced to a drunken chocolate haze.
Five years ago, they started with chocolate appreciation nights. Since then, there’s been whiskey matching, red wine matching. Last year they had a champagne matching as well as a dessert degustation. This year, the dessert degustation is themed around Koko Black’s most popular pralines.
I particularly loved going through the gift box selection. Almost re-living the desserts all over again post-event. Each one was that much more precious in that it conjured up particular elements of the dessert degustation, and it was interesting to see how it tied together visually and on the palate, the creativity and thought that went behind each dessert, with a mere single chocolate treat as its source of inspiration.
In that regard they were successful, the first mouthful immediately conjures up the sensations and flavours experienced on the night.
Martini - Vodka, Creme de Cacao, Cointreau, Blood Orange & Chocolate Straw
Based on the Orange & Cointreau Truffle, the chocolate itself is a soft ganache, with a mix of dark & milk chocolate, with bits of candied orange for a sweeter intense bite, enrobed in dark chocolate and coated in light chocolate shavings. The cointreau is mild compared to the drink.
The chocolate straw was divine. Visually very much like the chocolate, rolled in dark chocolate & dark chocolate shavings. I had to refrain myself from nibbling on it, at least until I was halfway through the martini but it was a struggle. With blood orange juice to identify with the candied orange in the truffle, the martini packed a potent punch with a heady concoction of creme de cacao, vodka & grand marnier. Sweet enough to pull through the rich creaminess of the chocolate straw.
Dark Chocolate Mousse Rolled in Chocolate with Shortbread Biscuit, Finished in Velvet Atomised Chocolate
Based on their signature chocolate, Koko Black’s top seller - the Belgian Truffle, a simple chocolate with no fuss or frills, of creamy silky dark ganache with underlying notes of vanilla bean to cleanse the palate. You start with a jolt of bitter cocoa powder on your palate, preparing you to focus solely on the gorgeous quality of the rich ganache, encased in a shell for a slight resistance in the bite.
Easily my absolute favourite for the night. The spherical chocolate shell is sprayed with atomised chocolate, to mimic the powdery coating the truffle. With a reluctant and gentle tap, the shell cracks open, to reveal silky smooth chocolate mousse with hints of vanilla, and buried within are glimmers of shiny gold leaf and out rolls a rich slow molten dark chocolate. The chocolate shortbread soil is feathery light and buttery. Topped with candied vanilla.
Magnificent to behold and perfectly balanced between gratifyingly rich mousse & liquid dark chocolate, to the lightness of the chocolate shell & the airy soil, which was consistently fine. In this regard, the dessert excels and is so much more. A gorgeous combination of texture & flavour.
With a perfect anecdote, executive chocolatier Grant Inches guides us to our next course. When a chocolatier marries another, there is no better way to celebrate the union than to create a new chocolate. Inspired by their sister business Suga’s best seller, Grant and his wife created a passionfruit chocolate and it was such a success at the wedding, they put it on the menu and it is now one of their top three best sellers.
Passionfruit Marshmallow atop Milk Chocolate & Vanilla Semifreddo with a crunchy Feuilletine Base
The Passionfruit & Milk Chocolate itself has two tones, with a milk chocolate ganache infused with vanilla bean at the bottom, and the top layer consists of white chocolate & real passionfruit ganache. Entirely enrobed in dark chocolate for balance and a sprinkling of gold dust. A first bite reveals sweet fragrant passionfruit but the milky vanilla flavours emerge as the passionfruit subsides. Both are velvety smooth against the palate.
The dessert, was a replica of the chocolate itself, with a stark white passionfruit & vanilla marshmallow layer - sticky and pillowy, and the bottom layer, a creamy milky cool milk chocolate semifreddo with a hint of vanilla. Both layers separated by dark chocolate for a beautifully light crunch, and at the base, a sticky crunchy base of crushed up dark chocolate and wafer. Textures which are welcome amidst the uncommon pairing of marshmallow with the semifreddo, both soft chewy clouds.
This was probably my most challenging dessert. I find salted caramel far too rich and I can only handle this in small doses. And yet, look at that luxurious caramel pool.
For a shiny glaze.
Caramelised Milk Chocolate Mousse on Chocolate Croquante with Butterscotch Granita
Good caramel should be made with cocoa butter as cocoa butter melts at body temperature. In modern days, this has been substituted with vegetable fat, which has a higher melting point, which is quite telling.
The Salted Caramel is a slow sensuous bite of rich milk chocolate caramel, enrobed in milk chocolate, with the flakes of sea salt coming through at the end for a lingering salty sweet finish, highlighting the chocolate’s savoury notes. Quite different to the milkier stickier sweet dessert, but the saltiness was unmistakable.
Trialling a new product - caramelised milk chocolate was used to make the rich chocolate salted truffle mousse within. Coated with a milk chocolate mirror glaze for a glossy gleaming coat. A truly decadent heady bite of smooth silky milky rich salty sensations. Seated on a base of crunchy cocoa nibs & dark chocolate. To mimic the sea salt flakes, we have a light butterscotch granita.
Cute as a button, the finale of the night were the much anticipated fluffy raspberry souffles.
The Raspberry Puree is an old favourite, one of their pioneering chocolates back when Koko Black started nine years ago, and the thought of chocolate & raspberry was quite controversial. A fine shell of dark chocolate with a raspberry puree centre, mixed with milk & dark chocolate. A dark fruity coat, with a rich tangy sweet raspberry puree, muted compared to the dessert.
Raspberry Puree - Raspberry Souffle with Hot Chocolate Centre & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Dusted with Freeze Dried Raspberries
The warm raspberry souffle was magnificent, towering beautifully, an airy cloud. Enhanced with raspberry liqueur, it was on the sweet side but had bold tangy notes. Within the souffle, was a brilliant milk chocolate ganache piped into a dark chocolate truffle shell, creating this rich molten chocolate liquid centre that was truly sensational. And to finish, a creamy dark chocolate ice cream rolled in vivid freeze dried raspberry powder on top.
Belgian Hot Chocolate // Iced Chocolate
The beauty of the event was it was so well thought out, from the careful construction of each dessert, the order in which it was presented, the opportunity to watch the delicate assembly of each dessert & its components in between, to the little spiel between each course first by the executive chocolatier as to the very chocolate each dessert is based on, followed by the head pastry chef’s thought process in constructing each magnificent little treat. The entire night was a dream chocolate affair.