When we start developing a new chocolate, we usually give it a city name that is associated with the flavour, based on our own experience.
Shanghai, being a foodie paradise with really diverse flavours in the cuisine, makes it difficult for us, as there are so many flavour possibilities to choose from, and we have had some truly amazing dishes in Shanghai. One of the dishes that stood out was “ma jiang mian” – noodles with sesame paste. So we wanted to create a chocolate based on this culinary experience.
The sesame paste used in Chinese cuisine is made from toasted white sesame seeds, and it has a very different flavour profile to tahini (which is made with raw sesame seeds). The Chinese version is a darker colour, and almost resembles peanut butter in terms of texture but it has an even richer and nuttier flavour. Apart from using it in noodles, it’s also used as a dressing for salads and other cold dishes, as a dipping sauce and also as a filling for buns. Here's a picture of our homemade sesame paste noodles - the sesame paste is mixed with soy sauce and water, and then you just need to drizzle it over cooked noodles and any cooked meat or vegetables.
Another aspect of Shanghainese cuisine that we love is the contrast in texture in some of their dishes, and so we wanted to incorporate that element into our chocolate, and so we played with a few possibilities and came up with a fine crunchy texture inside the sesame paste filling (which also has milk chocolate in it). The shell is made with wild Bolivian milk chocolate.
Earlier this year, a friend tried the prototype of our sesame crunch chocolate, and straight away she said “oh, are you going to call it Shanghai? It reminds me of the cold noodles there.” So we knew we had got it right when someone outside our company can make the same city-flavour association.