The Best Of Australia’s Bean-To-Bar Artisan Chocolate
Chocolate is without a doubt the ruling leader of the confection world. Whether it’s the joy that comes from savouring a piece, or the nostalgia that washes over you recalling the days you begged your parents for just one more bite, chocolate holds a very special place in our hearts.
And artisan chocolate is one of the best kinds. The bean-to-bar movement has picked up in Australia over the last few years, resulting in some incredibly creative boutique chocolate makers that are carving out their own identity alongside beloved established brands.
Some use native Australian ingredients to create unique flavour profiles. Others look to eccentric Asian flavours. And other still simply focus on highlighting the increasingly popular single origin movement.
Among Australia’s artisan chocolate offering, these are a few of our favourites:
As Australia’s oldest family owned chocolate maker, Haigh’s Chocolates is rightfully considered a homegrown icon, pioneering the bean-to-bar movement in Australia.
Ask ten different people what their favourite Haigh’s chocolate is and you’ll get ten different answers. Though it’s hard to go past their dark premium fruit and nut block, which is flecked with juicy locally sourced fruits like pistachios, dried apricots, cranberries, and goji berries, and nuts like pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Haigh’s Chocolates has numerous stores throughout Melbourne, Sydney, and South Australia, as well as one in Canberra.
Hunted + Gathered
Just three to five ingredients – mainly organic cacao beans, organic coconut sugar and organic cacao butter – are used in the small-scale, boutique chocolate from Melbourne-based Hunted + Gathered.
This minimal, highly controlled profile, with the full bean-to-bar process carried out in-house, has earned owners and brothers Harry and Charlie Nissen a passionate following throughout Australia.
Aside from their Gold Medal winning Single Origin range, a must-try is their new collaboration with Four Pillars Gin, which is produced using spent gin botanicals and gin-steamed oranges from distillations of Four Pillars’ popular Rare Dry Gin. And if this collaboration is anything to go by, their next custom made chocolate bar with Australian specialty wine store Blackhearts and Sparrows should go down a treat. Wine chocolate, anyone?
Hunted + Gathered are stocked in numerous stores along the East Coast, as well as one in Perth. They also have a recently opened shopfront and cafe attached to their factory in Melbourne’s Cremorne.
Widely recognised around Australia, Koko Black turn hand-blended Belgium couverture chocolate into some of the country’s most beloved luxury chocolate bars, pralines and truffles.
With their range featuring well over 100 different varieties, the chocolate makers at Koko Black are able to showcase a wide range of local produce like organic walnuts from NSW, leatherwood honey from Tasmania, macadamia nuts from Queensland, and small batch spirits from the likes of Starward Whisky, The Rum Diary, and Four Pillars.
This is best represented in their new collaborative range with one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs, Brae’s Dan Hunter. The small collection, hinged on the idea of non-reliance on sugars and an appreciation of acids instead of excessive sweetness, highlights Australian native ingredients in flavours like macadamia and spotted gum honey crumble with caramelised white chocolate, and lemon myrtle with Venezuelan 72 percent single origin chocolate. Also on the menu: green ants with burnt butter cream and white chocolate.
Koko Black has one store each in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra as well as numerous throughout Victoria.
Using both premium quality couverture chocolate from Belgium and France, and single origin beans, Bakedown Cakery owner Jen Lo turns in some of the country’s most unique, distinctive and exciting chocolate bars.
Experimentation has been driving much of the boutique brand’s output lately, which includes a special Japanese condiment range that features flavours like pickled ginger with white chocolate, wasabi oil with dark chocolate, caramel soy sauce chocolate, and white sencha chocolate.
Unique Asian twists on premium quality chocolate also extends to Bakedown’s mainline range, where blocks of genmaicha oreo strawberry – using tea sourced from a plantation just outside of Kyoto – sit comfortably next to other creations like taro rice crispies, and pandan coconut lychee chocolates.
Aside from their online shop, Bakedown Cakery only has one store in Sydney’s St Leonards which is open every Thursday.
Jasper + Myrtle
This small Canberra chocolate maker gets their beans cacao beans from Peru and Papua New Guinea, as well as from growing regions such as Vietnam and Bougainville. This gives self-taught chocolatier Li Peng Monroe many different flavour profiles to experiment with, and plenty of reason to focus on single origin dark chocolate bars highlighting provenance and allowing the natural flavour of the cacao beans to come through.
Completely handmade, Jasper + Myrtle have some of the most tempting flavour combinations in the country, including their award-winning dark chocolate with wakame and Himalayan rock salt, and the milk chocolate with lemon myrtle and macadamia.
Jasper + Myrtle chocolates can be ordered online or found at various shops in ACT, NSW and QLD.
(Lead image: Alana Dimou)
Published 31 May, 2019