Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant or takeaway, and ordered a dish with Chinese black bean sauce? It's usually packed with salty and umami flavours. Despite the name, the Chinese black beans (also known as douchi) have nothing to do with the black beans in Latin American cuisines. Chinese black beans are fermented black soya beans, while the Latin American black beans are black turtle beans - totally different things.
We are not going to claim credit for the idea of using Chinese black beans in chocolate - the idea actually came from chef Andrew Wong (chef-owner of Restaurant A Wong in London, the only 2-Michelin star Chinese restaurant outside Asia). We have already worked with him for a few years, and last summer, he asked if we would like to collaborate and come up with a few chocolate for him, using Chinese ingredients to reflect his cooking. In that brainstorming session, one of the ingredients he came up with was Chinese black beans. Who wouldn't love a challenge of something that unusual to go into a chocolate? As soon as he mentioned it, we thought that it could be another caramel - after all, we have already done soya sauce caramel back in 2015, and we are pretty confident when it comes to caramel-based chocolates.
There are several areas in China which are famous for their black beans, with Yang Jiang in Guangdong province being the most famous. Another ingredient that we are using is also from Guangdong province - sun-dried tangerine peels (also called Chenpi)! This is nothing like the candied orange peels that you see normally. Chenpi is often used in Chinese cooking to give a distinct sweet aroma to a savoury dish, and it can also be used in some Chinese desserts.
Because of the proximity of the ingredients to the main Chinese city of Guangzhou, so that's the place name we have given to this chocolate. But it seems appropriate to call it Guangzhou anyway, as its history as the starting point of the maritime silk road is a perfect way to connect the east with the west, and this is exactly what we are trying to do with some of our flavours in chocolate!
It didn't take us long to develop this chocolate and achieve the flavour profile we wanted, and Andrew also was happy with it that he's been serving this at his restaurant for a few months. We have decided to add this chocolate to our collection at Chinese New Year, as our first new flavour of 2022! The design of this chocolate resembles the tiger pattern - to coincide with the year of the Tiger too.