Master chocolatiers and candy-makers the world-over have been hard at work for months experimenting with new flavours and textures, trying to outdo one another in an effort to capture the lion’s share of the sales this Easter.
New flavours that are sure to excite chocoholics this season include florals, like lavender, healthy spices such as ginger, turmeric and chai, coconut milk and tahini – a sauce made from toasting and grounding sesame seeds. There is also a big move among chocolatiers to include superfoods, such as spirulina, goji berries, reishi mushrooms, and our humble Rooibos in this delicious treat.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council says it’s a real coup that the USD103-billion chocolate industry has taken notice of Rooibos, which is a proudly South African product.
“As consumers’ taste profiles change and new consumers enter the confection market, new opportunities arise. Today, teens and young adults are using social media to interact with and document everyday life, providing opportunities for chocolate and sweet brands to incorporate multisensory confectionery options that use unexpected textures and flavours. The youth seek experiences over possessions and are always looking for new innovations from brands that they love.
“Equally, health-conscious consumers that are concerned about wellness (and their waistline) are looking for healthier chocolate options, and the chocolate industry has responded by turning to ‘functional foods’ such as Rooibos as a solution.
“Rooibos is rich in health-promoting antioxidants, which help to protect the body against cell damage caused by free radicals. Its naturally sweet taste also makes it an obvious choice for chocolatiers,” she says.
Swiss master chocolatier, Daniel Waldis, founder and owner of SA’s popular chocolate franchise, Le Chocolatier, affirms the growing demand for healthier chocolate products and says he has been experimenting with Rooibos for some time.
With more than 12 years of experience in chocolate-making in Switzerland and SA combined, he has a deep understanding of the principles that create great flavour combinations with chocolate.
He says Rooibos and chocolate share many similar characteristics – from the fruity, floral and nutty aromas to the slight levels of astringency, making it an ideal match.
“Rooibos tea pairs particularly well with white chocolate as its citrusy undertone cuts through the richness of the chocolate, while the smokiness of Rooibos also compliments the nuttiness of hazelnut milk chocolate.
“One of our big sellers is our Rooibos praline, where we combine white and milk chocolate along with a concentrated Rooibos tea ganache, which both locals and tourists love.
“Globally, more chocolatiers are starting to use Rooibos in chocolate bars, drinking chocolate and in sugar-free and vegan chocolate alternatives. Similarly, master tea blenders are infusing chocolate chips with Rooibos which provides a luxurious mouthfeel,” he remarks.
For those wanting to experiment with Rooibos in chocolate at home this Easter, Waldis recommends using the tea in its purist form and to not infuse it with a flavoured Rooibos tea. “You don’t want overwhelming aromas and too much going on, on the palate. Rather use the tea as is to allow the true Rooibos flavour to surface.”