From the archive: This article was from our original site -MyCityLife posted on 7 July 2014.
July 7 marks World Chocolate Day, where chocolate was first introduced to Europe more than 500 years ago – despite the ancient South Americans enjoying the delicious cocoa bean for closer to three millennia. Seeing as how chocolate has filled people with warmth and happiness for so long, it really should be World Chocolate Week/ Month/ Year/ Lifetime.
The literal translation of the cocoa plant is Food Of The Gods and there is no doubt that chocolate is anything short of heavenly. The Mayans and Aztecs first used cocoa beans as a form of currency showing its great value to their culture – giving a new slant to that chocolate money we so loved as kids. Some millennia later, research thankfully continues to reveal positive after positive with the chocolate effect. Theobromine (while unhealthy to our four-legged friends), is the chemical linked to serotonin levels in the human brain – which means great mental happiness to human heads. That’s taking Mental Health Day to a whole new level of never actually leaving the office (#dayum). But the health benefits of chocolate don’t end with mere happiness. Cacao contains chemicals that fight tooth decay, lowers blood pressure, prevents heart disease and treats a variety of ailments. Best of all, there is no evidence supporting the old wives’ tale that chocolate gives you pimples. For most of life’s situations, chocolate is just what the doctor ordered, and Australia’s favourite doctor and self-confessed chocoholic Dr Karl Kruszelnicki personally recommend enjoying your chocolate with coffee. MYCITYLIFE has trawled Brisbane to scout the best in chocolate experiences – because someone has to do it. From hot beverages to brownies, cake and cocktails, we have Brisbane chocolate connoisseurs covered.
From the City centre, chocolatier Monty’s Chocolates sees godlike powers with such tiny sweet bites. The team hunt down and import the greatest chocolates across the globe, with handmade chocolates ranging from classic peppermint flavours to exotic Kalamansi, where the variety of tastes in between makes Willy Wonka look basic. Around the corner, Chocolate Soldier Espresso Bar is a castle dedicated to the cacao bean, where their Australian hand-made chocolates are the bomb. Chocolate To Die for from Adelaide Street is another speciality shoppe where you’ll climb right in the box to be with any of these bite-sized bits of brilliance.
The best brownies in the world. Seriously. The best. Ever. So good in fact, that when Ashton Kutcher celebrated his birthday in Paris (aka, the Land of Dessert), he set his publicist to track down a box of these handmade Brisbane luxury brownies. Considering world chocolate royalty Belgium is right next door, Ashton shipping a box of brownies from the other side of the world says loads. Welcome to the magic of Dello Mano. This family business crafts these handmade delicacies where heart and soul feature in every bite. Café Dello Mano on the rim of Newstead and Teneriffe means a Dello Mano vacation with each visit, so there’s every opportunity to indulge indulge indulge.
At the top of the list with local dessert bars, Chester Street Bakery & Bar in Newstead leads the chocolate pack. Their nutella donuts, Chocolate Fondant with malted milk ice cream and Ovaltine crunch, and honeycomb parfait, chocolate brownie with warm chocolate sauce are just the cocoa beginning. Up the road from James Street is Gerard’s Bistro, where the dark chocolate, date, hazelnut and sour cherry dessert is to die for. While you might start in Newstead, it will all end at South Bank, where Cowch are the ultimate chocolate addicts. Each of their signature desserts feature chocolate, cappuccinos are topped with chocolate flakes – not dust – and the Belgian coveteur chocolate shots are a must. The pièce de résistance would have to be the naked pops: a creamy ice-cream pop coated in white, milk, or dark chocolate, then sprinkled with toppings of your choice. This make-your-own-Magnum style dessert is as enjoyable to eat as it is to create and will see you deep in chocolate coma land.
Sometimes chocolate is best enjoyed in its traditional form, brewed into a warm comforting drink, just as the Mayans and Colonial Spanish liked it. From the CBD, Monty’s Chocolates can lay claim to the richest hot chocolate known to man. For the truly decadent, Bitter Suite in New Farm have you covered with a hot chocolate beyond your wildest dreams. The signature Bitter Suite Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate is peanut buttery, chocolatey creamy heaven, finished with whipped cream and Reece’s peanut butter topping. Salivate. Now.
For hot chocolate realness, Brisbane’s favourite vine-covered hole-in-the-wall café, Bunker in Milton is at the top of the chocolate heap, where you can get your chocolate bottled. The team take their beverage creation very seriously and have previously experimented with kooky combinations like hot chocolate and bacon. For a spiritually sensational hot chocolate, Wrapture in West End sees subtle spices adding warmth to their already toasty hot chocolate. Always on the hunt for new flavours, Wrapture explores chocolate experiences from West Africa across to Venezuela.
SPIRITS & CHOCOLATE
Alcohol and chocolate were meant to be together, and the ancient Mokaya and Olmec people knew it. Archaeologists found that cacao beans were used to make primitive hot chocolates and that the white pulp surrounding the beans was also used as a source of fermented sugar to create alcoholic drinks as far back as 1900BC. Almost 4000 years later, chocolate and alcohol are still being married in perfect harmony, and we’ve continued to experiment with the relationship.
From The City centre, the sweet southern taste of bourbon compliments the dark rich tones of chocolate, and this is a match that The Gresham has experimented with. Love and Squalor combines bourbon and chocolate with sherry and vermouth, while Buxom Black Betty takes things a step further with added walnuts and spice.
From The Valley, Laruche takes bourbon and chocolate to bed with their 1700’s style nightcap the Madagascar Milk Punch. Makers Mark and Pedro Ximinez fuse with Aztec chocolate bitters in a mix of sugar and dairy delight, and while nightcaps are traditionally enjoyed before bed, Laruche hopes you can stay the night. At Fourth Wall, their Classic Chocolate Cocktail is quite the head spinner. With equal parts Sloe gin, cognac, a little bit of sugar, a full egg, bitters and a drag of nutmeg nicely mixed together, this is one concoction that lacks chocolate as an ingredient but has all the taste and after glow chocolate promises. Those deliciously crafty boys!
South American style, chocolate and tequila are dark companions. The Emporium Hotel‘s Cocktail Bar sees The Martini Molé keeping things spicy. Tequila marries with choc ‘n’ chilli liqueur from our very own Tamborine Mountain, smoothed out with Mozart’s dark chocolate liqueur and served with real chilli for the ultimate in opulent winter decadence. From West End, Sling Lounge successfully plays matchmaker with its martini The Jimador. Tequila and dark chocolate unites with Agavero Liqueur and honey for the perfect cocktail that is best enjoyed slowly. And sensually. For those who aren’t a fan of the deep burn, the Dolce and Gabbana is a sweet surprise: Nocello, dark chocolate, vanilla and berries are mixed with cream and topped with a strawberry.