The Margaret River Chocolate Company is one of the most visited sites in Margaret River, but if you want to know what chocolate should taste like, in its purest form, you must visit Gabriel Chocolate. Fellow Perth food blogger, The Kitchen Crusader, and I visited Gabriel Chocolate last weekend. The road trip to Margaret River was sparked by this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop theme which is Death by Chocolate. Our friend Nadia works at Gabriel Chocolate and told us to come down and check out some single origin chocolate.
Gabriel Chocolate recently opened up in Margaret River on the corner of Caves road and Quininup road, Yallingup and offers single origin – bean to bar chocolate. Single origin chocolate is chocolate which has used cocoa beans to create it from a single source. This can be a single estate or plantation, but in most instances a single region. Cocoa beans, like coffee and wine, differs from region to region according to the environment it is grown in, where factors such as the soil, climate effects like the rainfall and humidity add characteristics to the cocoa beans resulting in chocolate that has a unique flavour profile.
That’s not to say that all single origin chocolate will be good, it depends on the chocolate maker and the integrity that they put into the process of sourcing and making the chocolate. Gabriel Chocolate is a small family fun business, Gabriel (the owner) and his wife have had a long term fascination with chocolate and Gabriel Chocolate has been 5 years in the making. They have traveled the world to source the best chocolate and they wanted to show people that there is so much more to chocolate than what people think by keeping it single origin. You get a really down to earth vibe about this place and a feeling that they are really serious about their chocolate, especially in the way that they have designed the place and display their chocolate, it’s all about the chocolate and showing off it’s unique characteristics.
On the wall near the entrance is a huge map of the world showing the wide variety of cocoa beans that can be found in the world with each colour representing the outside of the cocoa pods. I was amazed to learn that so many different kinds of cocoa beans existed. Gabriel Chocolate currently provides 6 different varieties but they are hoping to expand their selection down the track.
Tasting all the chocolate, takes your taste buds on a fascinating journey as you eat chocolate made from cocoa beans from all over the world. Some really interesting flavours will come through in the chocolate that you would have never imagined. It’s fun to evaluate and detect the subtle characteristics of each chocolate, the experience is a lot like tasting wine. There are little sample trays of chocolate and it’s best to get one of the staff to guide you through the tasting process, as they can provide some background on where the cocoa beans came from and start you with the known and familiar territory of milk and dark chocolate, and then bring out the more interesting tasting chocolates. You can also get a behind the scenes tour to see how the chocolate is made. I am a fan of dark chocolate and I generally get 70% as I find that anything above that can be a bit too bitter for me as a general eating chocolate. Gabriel offers Chuao (beans from Venezuela) with 80% cacao, although it has a high % of cacao it was not very bitter at all and very smooth tasting as a result of the high quality of the beans that are used to produce it. The Nacional (beans from Ecuador) tasted like a cherry ripe but there was no cherries added to the chocolate, this was just the natural taste that was coming through the cacao beans. The Sambirano (beans from Madagascar) had citrus notes in the chocolate. The most surprising was the Java (beans from Criollo) which had quite a long finish on the palate, and smoky flavours could be detected in the chocolate such as tobacco and spices like paprika.
The chocolate is made from scratch on site, where all the cocoa beans are hand sorted, roasted, winnowed, conched and tempered. The chocolate is made in small batches and each batch is limited to 250 bars. On the back of the block of chocolate, a description is provided, similar to what you would find on the label of a wine bottle, which details the characteristics of the chocolate. As single origin beans are used, every time a batch of chocolate is made, the resulting flavour differs from the previous batch. Just like how the flavour profile of wine varies from year to year, depending on the quality of the grapes harvested, a wine bottled in 2010 tastes different from wine bottled in 2011. It was amazing to taste all the different chocolates and pick out their individual nuances, and to know that each batch of chocolate will be an original experience.
All the different chocolates are presented on their own podium, they can be bought in simple square blocks, some have nuts and spices scattered over the top. You can also buy cocoa nibs and soap
Chocolate soap - cocoa butter is very good for your skin.
Gabriel Chocolate also has a café where you can order tea, coffee (they use 5 Senses) and hot chocolate. There is a small selection of baked chocolate goods made fresh everyday on site as well as ice cream.
Gabriel Chocolate has special hot chocolate making machines.
Look at all the lovely layers of the hot chocolate, it tastes as good as it looks.
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Don’t be fooled by the cakey appearance of this chocolate mousse cake, it’s texture is smooth, velvety and so soft that you feel as though you are just eating mousse.
Chocolate fudge with pistachios and cherries – a perfect combination!
As single origin chocolate is used in the baked goods, they all have a really refined taste. Nadia told us that Gabriel’s Rio Caribe (beans from Venezuela) 72% dark chocolate is the best chocolate to use in cooking.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Icecream
I was very impressed by the flavours of the ice cream at Gabriel’s. What I loved about it was that it was rich, creamy and full of flavour. It was very indulgent! I had the hazelnut caramel ice cream and The Kitchen Crusader had peanut butter chocolate. There were little chunks of caramel throughout my hazelnut caramel ice cream, and I had a taste of the peanut butter chocolate ice cream and found the peanut butter flavour in the ice cream very pure. We were told that they make all the flavourings in the ice cream from scratch on site (the peanut butter was made in a Thermomix).
Gabriel Chocolate has redefined what chocolate is to me, it was my first exposure to single origin chocolate. It made me appreciate the depth and complexity that can be found in the taste of chocolate. The flavour compounds found in dark chocolate actually exceeds those of red wine. Chocolate is one of the most complex compounds in the world with over 1,500 identified flavour components, while wine has around 500. I like the respect that Gabriel has given to chocolate by making it from scratch using single origin cocoa beans so that people can discover the array of complex flavours that chocolate offers. Unlike the general mass produced chocolate that you can buy, which is made from a blend of cocoa beans and generally over sweetened, contains flavourings and addictives, and when it comes to flavour - quantity, uniformity and consistency is valued over character, quality and diversity. As far as I am aware, Gabriel Chocolate is the only place in Western Australia at the moment that produces single origin chocolate. But it’s not just chocolate that tastes “different for different’s sake”, all the chocolate tastes amazing, you can tell that the best quality cocoa beans are used.
I highly recommend that people check out Gabriel Chocolate when they are down in Margaret River, everyone should have the single origin experience.
Gabriel Chocolate (www.gabrielchocolate.com.au) is open 7 days, 10am to 5pm.
Address: Corner of Caves Road and Quininup road, Yallingup.
Phone: (08) 9756 6689
You can also follow Gabriel Chocolate on twitter @GabrielChocMR
You can also follow Gabriel Chocolate on twitter @GabrielChocMR