Last week Chocolate Arts launched a brand new, enhanced take on high tea – they call it the Haute Chocolate service. I was invited to try it out and my friend JX has joined me for some girly time. The good thing about this is that you don’t need to make reservations ahead of time, so it can be a spontaneous date with your favourite girl(s), or an afternoon chocolate break from a stroll around the city.
For $15.95, the Haute Chocolate service includes a carafe of hot chocolate along with 4-6 house-made chocolates, pastries, petits fours and pâte de fruits, as well as a small piece banana bread with butter and seasonal jam.
For hot chocolate, you have endless options. You can select its classic house blend of semisweet or bittersweet, or the spiced chocolate with chipotle, cardamom and cayenne, or you can go to its collection of chocolate chips, sample some of them and pick out your favourite. It’s not an easy choice. Here are a few that we’ve tried: Lactee Superieure (38%) gives you the rich milk chocolate flavour; Madirofolo (65%) has a good balance of semi-sweetness; Alto el Sol (65%) has a hint of banana because the beans are grown near banana trees; Araguani (72%) is a single-origin dark chocolate with a rather complex flavour, slightly sweet and fruity. In the end, I chose the Araguani for its fruitiness. The hot chocolate comes with whipped cream, or vanilla or raspberry marshmallows. If you chose neither, which I think is a silly thing to do, you will receive an extra piece of chocolate on your plate. OK, maybe it’s not so silly anymore.
The next difficult decision is to choose one piece of chocolate from its display case to add to your plate. There were caramels, truffles, chocolate bonbons, and some seasonal offerings that they rotate every few months. I chose the Fleur de Sel Wafer.
And then it was served! In addition to what we selected earlier, the following were also on each of our plate (from left of photo below):
- Chocolate salami
- Apple ganache with dried apple on top
- Raspberry gelee
- Parmesan sable
- Fleur de Sel wafer(chosen from the display case)
What an interesting selection of chocolate treats and other sweets! The Chocolate Salami was packed with nuts and dried fruit, which wasn’t too sweet, and had a great texture. The cream in the Apple Ganache was light and airy, and the diced apple in the chocolate cup was nicely spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. The Raspberry Gelee tasted like it’s made with raspberry juice, didn’t taste artificial, and they didn’t use gelatin to make it. The Parmesan Sable was the only savoury item on the plate and it was a nice change of pace; it was light and buttery, puff pastry like. The Fleur de Sel Wafer also brought a good balance of sweet and savoury, so the overall experience wasn’t overly sweet for me.
And then the hot chocolate. In liquid form, the Araguani tasted exactly what I expected. It was rich and decadent, but with subtle fruity flavours so even at 72% it’s not just straight up bitterness. I do wish the hot chocolate is slightly thicker so it has the sipping chocolate effect. Now it’s more like an enhanced, higher-end version of a hot cocoa; still very good, but could be better. It was fun to stir in the marshmallows with the hot chocolate, watching it melt away while adding extra creaminess to the hot chocolate.
Afterwards I bought a few pieces of chocolates to take home. Their chocolates are sold by weight, which is a great pricing format since every piece is shaped and weighed differently and it’s not easy to set a flat rate for them all. Among the 5 pieces I ordered the seasonal Coconut & Lime Egg, which had some great tropical flavours of coconut and lime in the creamy ganache. This spring-themed item is only available for another 5 weeks or so. I also tried its Vegan Passion Fruit Truffle. It’s not as creamy as most truffles (texture was a bit grainy actually) but it had prominent passion fruit flavours.
Chocolate Arts puts out great chocolate products and for $15.95 I think this is a great opportunity to sample them. It’s a nice change from the typical afternoon tea service. It’s not a lot of food but you also wouldn’t necessarily want to stuff yourself with chocolates. Through this experience it will also open your eyes on different applications of chocolate and learn just a little bit more about chocolate tasting. And if you’re not a huge chocolate fan, the hot chocolate can be substituted for tea or coffee, and soy and almond milk options are also offered for hot cocoas. Maybe not for men, but I would suggest you to schedule your next girls’ day out for some Haute Chocolate!
Chocolate Arts Cafe
1620 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver