Fruit and chocolate go well together, as anyone who has found themselves psychologically tethered to the chocolate fondue fountain at one of those random high-right institutional mixers we all seem to find ourselves attending, unexpectedly, at least once in a while. Chocolate fondue fountains exist but for the purpose of getting us to eat something fresh with our chocolate. Banana. Strawberry. Apple. Fig. Pineapple. Dip a chunk under the curtain of chocolate cascading from the lip of a multi-tiered chocolate fountain and something inside says: “Hey mister, I’m really happy right now! So don’t move. Not even to fetch a glass of faux champagne. Not even at the risk looking like a pig in front of ravishing women in diaphanous and clingy evening wear. Don’t move. Just eat. Try the papaya.”
Sadly, some people don’t listen to their little voices, so setting up camp at the chocolate fondue area of the party makes for only the most fleeting of intercourse with others. While that may have its advantages, I can’t shake the feeling that there is something failed in a chocolate fountain that doesn’t break down every semblance of the social façades that propel us through parties on unending undulations of stiflingly pedestrian conversation and gushy niceness.
What makes fruit taste better? Salt. What makes chocolate taste better? Salt. What makes fruit and chocolate taste better another? What makes chocolate fondue something you might actually eat on a regular basis? Stumped? A Himalayan Salt Block.
First: My favorite salts for chocolate these days, or at least some of the artisan sea salts I’ve found myself returning to again and again when dabbling in salted chocolate are:
Grigio di Cervia Italian sel gris
Iburi Jio cherrywood smoked
Pangasinan Star fleur de sel
Halen Mon Gold oak smoked flake salt
Many, many salts work well with chocolate. Far fewer chocolates work well with salt. I’ve tasted hundreds, and most leave me with a freaked-out feeling, which in itself isn’t so bad, but could be improved. The beautiful, super-silky Cru Sauvage wild harvested salt from Bolivia, is just awful with salt. Most of the more well-known all around crowd pleasers are good, but not perfect, perhaps because they are all about delicacy. Michel Cluizel, for example… Not good. The bigger chocolates take the salt much better. Venchi is superb. Claudio Corallo, magnificent.
Here’s bewilderingly delicious way to bring salt together with fruit and chocolate with ease, grace, and visual pizzazz. First, warm a plate or brick of either tableware grade or cookware grade Pink Himalayan salt on the stove at low heat for about 3 minutes (go for 110, which is basically just a touch warm to the touch. This is warm enough to melt the chocolate and also gentle enough on the salt block to permit use of less expensive Tableware Grade salt blocks). Set the salt block on a trivet or plate. Arrange chocolate bars on a slab of Pink Himalayan Salt. Slice some fruit (any of the ones mentioned above will work) and arrange on the salt block alongside. (You can also serve a platter of fruit alongside, and then just transfer a few piece at a time to the salt block.) Serve with a dish of excellent finishing salt. Dip fruit in chocolate, or scoop chocolate onto fruit. Eat some straight up. Sprinkle some with salt and then eat.
The thrill of serving fruit and chocolate on a block of salt and then sprinkling with some salt at your discretion is that the salt come into the field of play from two different directions and in two vastly different forms. On the salt block, the luscious liquid heart of the fruit picks up a touch of salt, bringing out the sweetness, accentuating fugitive fruit notes, but interacting only in briny simplicity with your tongue because all the salt on the fruit is dissolved. Because the chocolate is mainly fat, and salt is not fat soluble, the salt block bring zero salt to the chocolate.So, take a bite. The salted fruit liquid is doing the salting for the chocolate. Then drop a flake of salt on top of the chocolate and munch with a bite of the fruit. Now you get brilliant sparkle of salt dancing off the chocolate, commingling with its dark richness, penetrating through all the way to the fruit. The variations of salt and fruit and chocolate are geometric, crystal salt, liquid salt, salted fruit, salted chocolate, chocolated fruit and salt, fruited chocolate and salt, etc. Summed up as: yum.
To clean up, rinse the pink Himalayan salt block under warm water, pat dry with a paper towel, and you’re done.
Mark Bitterman :: Nov.21.2009 ::
Chocolate Happenings, Chocolate Musings, Dark Chocolate ::
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