1327A 9th Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 0T2
Inside a fairly unassuming storefront in Inglewood, just south and east of Spolumbo’s, magic happens. That storefront houses Choklat, one of Canada’s two Chocolatier’s that make their own couverture. Soma Chocolatemaker in Toronto is the other one.
What difference does this make? All the difference in the world. From “Bean to Bar”, Brad Churchill sources the cacao right from the producer. This provides Choklat with the maximum control over their end product – ensuring that every step of the manufacturing process is controlled. In researching the chocolate industry, I’ve come to better understand how rare this is – and I for one certainly appreciate a chocolatier that seeks out the best ingredients possible to make the best possible product.
Inside Choklat’s small building is a very clean and sterile production facility. There are some couches to sit on, a few displays, and otherwise, it’s just counter space, and room for them to work. On any given day, you can watch them temper chocolate, dip truffles, or a variety of other chocolate making tasks.
Since they’ve opened, they’ve had the same products available. Bars in 43% and 48% milk, and 70% dark, made from Brazillian and Venezuelan Criollo. Though my memory may be failing me, i believe one of their milk chocolates may be a combination of forastero and criollo. Don’t quote me on that. The box is long gone.
Criollo comes from the Spanish word Creole – meaning indigenous, native, authentic. Criollo makes up a small part of the overall cacao crop, and is renown for it’s quality, and wonderful taste characteristics – strong aromas, mild tannins, slightly bitter. Most of the best chocolate uses Criollo.
While their milk chocolate bars are good, it’s the quality of the dark chocolate that really sets them apart. When I get people to try their dark, their first objection before they try is typically “too bitter”. Cocoa solids are bitter, but the 70% refers to the combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter, which is expensive, is generally the element that is removed in cheap chocolate, and replaced with an inexpensive fat. So when you get a cheap 70% dark chocolate, it’s usually a high quantity of cocoa solids. Choklat’s combination of solids and butter makes for a silky smooth, fruity, very slightly bitter chocolate. Don’t rule out dark chocolate before you try it.
Their dark chocolate bars come in 3 types – Brazillian, Occumare (a Venezuelan Criollo), and the “limited edition” rare Porcelana. They each have their own tasting characteristics, notably the Porcelana which has strong red wine, slightly tannic, dark fruit quality. Try them all to find the one you like best. In blind taste tests, generally Porcelana has fared best amongst my group of friends. But for the price, I generally prefer the Occumare on a day to day basis. For those curious, bars sell for $5.99 (when they first opened, they sold at $4.99). Limited edition Porcelana sells for $9.99.
Choklat also makes bon bon’s – truffles with a variety of fillings, dipped in milk or dark chocolate, and rolled in a different finish. They are made fresh to order, so these truffles are really as fresh as you can get – and you can definitely taste the difference!
My only real issue with Choklat is a lack of a point of sale system. For those wanting to use credit card, they use computers linked to paypal. Not a huge deal, but for those in a rush, it can occasionally be inconvenient.
Choklat is a local business, that puts in the time, and effort to produce a superior product. By sourcing the best ingredients, they are able to ensure that their customers are able to enjoy some of the best chocolate available. The care and attention they put into their product really shows – and for me, i’ve bought many a bar there to share, and enjoy. In this Christmas season, this is the kind of small gift i prefer to give over a box of turtles or icy squares. The more support we can provide to local businesses that are working hard to bring us their best, the better.