Kaya Toast Pandan, Chinese 5 Spice, Mango Pudding, Singapore Sling, Gula Melaka and Teh Tarik. These are just some of the bold flavours that premium chocolate maker Anjali Chocolat has created as part of their ‘From Singapore Lah’ collection, made from Belgian couverture.
Former banker and founder Anjali Gupta’s passion for chocolate led her to break free from the corporate world and dive into the chocolate business, undergoing training in Istanbul as well as the UK Callebaut Chocolate Academy, before launching a stall in in Pasar Bella. She has since moved to her current shop in the leafy suburb of Dempsey.
Having heard from customers that they’d love to take Singaporean chocolate as gifts overseas, she started to come up with a plan. After three intense months of experimenting and taste-testing, the collection was born.
An instant success with Kaya Toast Pandan and Teh Tarik being the most popular flavours, Gupta counts the Ministry of Trade and Industry among her customers, and said they often gift the collection to foreign delegates.
“Back then I felt that while we were making chocolate, the recipes and ingredients were all European. Since we released the collection, I’ve found that our Lemongrass Coconut flavour is popular with those who like white chocolate, while the Ginger Cumin bonbon was a hit with chef Rishi Naleendra of Cheek by Jowl, who hosted a cooking class with us.”
The ‘From Singapore Lah’ collection is available as either a four, nine, or sixteen piece set box, priced at either $15, $35 or $60.
What do you get when a doctor and chef come together? Founders of the award-winning brand Choco Elf Josephine Lee and Dr. Joe Lee have proved that sugar-free is still tasty, with their range of guilt-free nibbles.
“Many customers asked me if we could make sugar-free versions of our chocolates because some of their family members may have health concerns, and they hoped for Chocoelf to be enjoyed by the whole family. That got us re-working our recipes, and we managed to come up with compositions that are balanced in taste, so much so that our brand has evolved to be closely associated with sugar-free products,” said Dr. Lee.
Chief chocolatier Josephine said they initially founded the brand 13 years ago with the dream of putting Singapore on the world map, and it’s safe to say they’re well on their way. Not only do they retail in department stores like Takashimaya, but they’re also sold in tourist spots like Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer and DFS. Keeping in line with their healthy concept, they’re also sold at hospitals and polyclinics.
“Our homemade kaya was a hit – one year we sold close to 10,000 pieces of kaya chocolate. Our gourmet pralines and sugar-free chocolate bars have also been exported to India and China,” said Josephine.
If you’re wondering just how they manage to prevent the chocolates from being bland, Dr. Joe says the key is finding the right ingredients to compliment the cocoa, while the high cacao mass in crowd favourites like their dark truffles ensure intense flavour.
“We do use maltitol, a sugar-replacer extracted from corn and wheat. However, our kaya was a hit due to the interplay of coconut, pandan leaves and chocolate,” said Dr. Joe.
A box of pralines and truffles comes in five sizes and cost between $7 to $77.50.
Sink your teeth into Jia Liang Lim’s creamy Nama Chocolate, the Japanese style ganache (made by famous by ROYCE) which is made from cream and chocolate, before being dusted with chocolate powder.
A self-taught chocolatier, Lim says the process of involved lots of book reading, YouTube videos and “failing glamorously”, before opening Demochoco in 2016.
In addition to the traditional Illanka 63% (derived from a Peruvian single origin chocolate) and Japanese Matcha flavours, Demochoco has a mix of alcoholic and also Southeast Asian flavours.
Taking inspiration from zichar stalls and old-school candy stalls, Lim’s most popular flavours are the Salted Egg and Cereal, and Black Sesame.
The ingredients come from across the globe – the couverture from Valrhona, gula melaka from Malaysia, with others coming from Kyoto; sourcing quality ingredients is the most challenging part of the job.
Ideas can take months to conceptualise, though some, like the Malaysian Mirai, were sudden revelations.
“My Malaysian Mirai, which features torch ginger lily and yuzu, was something that just popped up in my mind as I was having a drink with friends,” said Lim.
His passion for chocolate is equal to his passion for drinks, with Demochoco having collaborated with Glenfiddich last year and Bruichladdich this year on whisky and chocolate pairings, saying that the inherent barrel ageing and tannins inside whisky allow you to appreciate the richness of the chocolate.
As Lim also runs a beer business, he’s currently in the process of brewing a chocolate beer, though future plans for chocolate flavours involve regional spices and herbs.
Homegrown label Fossa Chocolate is famous for being Singapore’s first beans-to-bar chocolate craft maker, celebrating not only the craft of making chocolate, but also the people behind the beans. Their flavourful chocolate bars need no introduction, and new flavours are introduced every few months as the brand strives to keep ahead of the competition.
Their latest creation? Rustic Gems, the result of using a 140-year-old method to create these small – but delicious – chocolates.
Business and marketing director Yilina Leong, who co-founded Fossa Chocolate (formerly known as Wild Nibs) together with head chocolatier Jay Chua and chocolatier Cheris Chua, said the usage of manual stone grinders produces chocolate that is grittier and much more powerful in flavour as opposed to the modern conche machine.
While they are able to customise the flavours according to requests, the single origin dark range is made with only two ingredients – cacao beans and sugar.
“All our beans are sourced from friends (farmers and traders) that we trust, without human exploitation and we make sure they’re paid a fair price for their work. We gravitate towards cacao that are unique in flavours, including Cocoa of Excellence winning cacaos,” said Leong.
Even better – these hardy chocs have no problem withstanding Singapore’s humid weather and heat, due to larger particle sizes which mean a higher melting temperature. They come packed in tins of three different sizes, but clients can request for specific quantities and customisation.
The regular tin ($15) contains eight gems, but if you’re planning a house party, opt for their bell jar ($180) filled with 100 Rustic Gems, that your friends can nibble on while sipping some bubbly.
Former lawyer Leela Titus has been crafting detailed chocolate pieces since she founded her own chocolate company in 2013. The self-professed chocaholic was only intending to stay in Singapore for a year, but the enterprising spirit she found throughout the island helped her turn her dessert dreams into reality, and she became a full-time chocolatier after honing her skills in Vancouver’s Ecole Chocolat and through work experience with award-winning chocolatiers like William Curley.
Dying for some edible Louboutins or Manolo Blahniks? No problem, Titus will sculpt the shoe for you. After creating the shoe shape in chocolate using a generic mould, her creativity comes alive when decorating. The whole process takes around one to two hours, split over a few days.
“I have some standard designs, but I often get requests for a specific design or colour scheme. One client asked me to make versions of her son’s favourite sports shoes,” said Titus, adding that the shoes come in four flavours: caramel, white, milk and dark chocolate (the large shoes are only available in milk and dark chocolate).
She uses Valrhona chocolate for all her creations, whether they are classic truffles and pralines, Christmas decorations made from chocolate, or shoes; the flavouring for the truffles comes from natural sources, such as the rosemary from her balcony.
“As a proud Irishwoman I use good old Kerrygold butter. I currently use top quality French cream for the ganache fillings, but as soon as the Irish stuff arrives in Singapore, I’ll be using that!”
The shoes are priced between $14 for a box of two small pieces, to $35 for large shoes.
This homegrown cake and pastry brand has been churning out pretty desserts since 2012, but this year, chef and founder Gwen Lim and her team decided to delve into chocolate production – specifically chocolate bars and crunchy Chocolate Gems.
Inspired by real gems, their chocolate counterparts feature high-quality nuts and dried fruit coated in chocolate, and take two days to make.
First, the nuts are coated with melted chocolate, followed by a smoothing process where the gems are tumbled in the panning machine. Finally, shellac is used in the polishing of the chocolate gems which gives them their shiny exterior.
It seemed a natural progression for the team, given that most of their popular cakes like the G-Spot were chocolate-based.
“Our vision is to bring out the best in any given ingredient, as well as to constantly innovate and push the boundaries of what’s available in the local market. The gems were the perfect opportunity for us to pair chocolate together with other flavours,” said business development manager Nathan Ong.
Cocoa beans are sourced from a variety of countries like Vietnam, Madagascar and Trinidad and Tobago, the wide range of origins ensuring the match the team’s ideal taste profile.
The flavours are mostly seasonal, but Ong says the pistachio gems and coffee gems have been the most popular.
Prices start at $8.
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