More than a box of chocolates: Inside Godiva's Gold Discovery collection
Life is like a box of chocolates. But with its newest launch — Gold Discovery — Godiva wants to make sure that you will be purely delighted by what you get. The luxury Belgian chocolatier has been around since 1926, but its newest collection is aimed at both the discerning customer as well as the millennial, with an eye-pleasing selection of colours and shapes, and a refreshing blend of flavour and textures. We headed to Shanghai to speak with two chef chocolatiers, co-creator Chef Jean Apostolou, who's based in Brussels where all Godiva chocolates are made, and Philippe Daue, who lives in Shanghai.
THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE
Although the idea of a perfect chocolate is somewhat subjective, there are certain characteristics that one should look out for. Good chocolate will always have that satisfying snap when you break it in half, and a shiny, pleasing appearance. Says Apostolou, "The perfect chocolate shows delicacy. My eye is pleased when I look at it. The colour, the surface, and the shine are all important, as it delivers a message that either attracts me or not."
For a leading chocolatier like Godiva, a good chocolate will excite and not offend the palate, and have interesting taste combinations that reflect ongoing culinary trends — without veering into outré territory. The Gold Discovery Collection does just that. When you open a box from this collection, your eyes are first attracted to the subtle colours and clean, modern shapes. This is the first time Godiva is using colourants in its chocolates, simply because truly, natural colourants that met the brand's high standards were only available now. Explains Daue, "Natural colours are quite new, as in the past there was always some alcohol and artificial colouring added, and the brand didn't want to go in that direction." Godiva has also worked with an external design firm to create the chocolate designs — combinations of eye-catching curves, swirls and more angular shapes that look refreshingly modern. Even the colours added are subtle pops of green, yellow, and light purple — after all, garish shades will not sit well with the luxury chocolate consumer.
But like a beautiful woman, looks can only go so far, and taste is what keeps customers coming back for more. Through our conversation with Chefs Daue and Apostolou, we realised that chocolate production at this scale is a time-consuming and laborious process. The recipes and combinations are only the first step, and it takes 18 months from conception to the time the final chocolate piece makes it to Godiva stores worldwide. Some of the hurdles faced include clearing all the ingredients and colourants used in Godiva's multiple markets, and creating fine chocolates that have a shelf life of roughly six to seven months.
EATING A CHOCOLATE
One of the things that intrigued us about luxury chocolates was how we were going to store and consume them in Singapore's heat and humidity. Daue had some handy tips: "The ideal temperature for storing chocolates is between 12 and 18°C with a humidity level of 50 percent." Clearly Singapore doesn't have those conditions, so Daue advises storing your unconsumed chocolates at the bottom of the fridge in an airtight container.
More importantly, don't remove them from the fridge and immediately thaw them at (Singapore's) room temperature or condensation will form, and your chocolates will have that decidedly un-premium, wet texture. Instead, move them to an air-conditioned room that's around 20 to 22°C and consume it there — the ideal temperature for chocolate consumption, according to Daue. If you're bringing them outside to eat, let them sit 'outdoors' for 15 minutes before you consume them. We tried his advice and the chocolates were perfect — neither frozen nor too soft and squishy — bringing out all the subtleties of the complex flavours and combinations. Six chocolates in, we were a bit dazed — we would advise eating these in moderation — but we had to agree that the chefs at Godiva had certainly gotten it right.
FINDING THE RIGHT FLAVOURS
Exciting yet palatable flavours are exactly what this Godiva collection is about. Says Apostolou, "Gold Discovery is a diverse, rich collection in terms of flavour offerings. Our previous Gold collection had a lot of ganache and hazelnut chocolates — we have now extended the offer. For the nut flavours, we now have hazelnuts, almond, pistachio, pecan nuts and macadamia. We have introduced fruits as well. There's a strawberry and lychee chocolate designed for the Asiatic market, and a passionfruit cream combined with pink peppercorn. Our combinations are catching the attention [of people around the world], but they are not shocking at all. Instead, they deliver a certain freshness and authenticity."
Apostolou's personal favourite piece is Amande Marquise. He says: "It's a chocolate that has a cracking chocolate shell, before you arrive at a smooth, almond praline, and then finally, as a surprise, a whole roasted nut in the centre." Daue loves Asia and its ingredients like Eclipse Fraise Litchi. "It has a touch of lychee which brings something Asian to it, and it combines well with strawberry. It's a fruity piece with a creamy texture and has the subtle colours that we talked about. I feel that it represents the innovation of this collection."
Biting into each piece, you'll certainly taste the complexity that goes into the delicate balance of flavours. Dark chocolates get a burst of passionfruit cream, while a sprinkling of French sea salt, adds an unexpected twist in some recipes. But don't expect crazy combinations from this classic brand. Says Apostolou, "Outré and exaggerated flavours and shocking combinations and visuals are not part of our DNA. Our image reflects elegance and refinement." And if you want a box of premium chocolates that will excite, entice, and enchant your tastebuds and your other senses, you can't do better than this.
Available at Godiva stores now. For more information, visit Godiva online.