It's not easy to keep a secret, especially when it comes to a new flavour that we have developed and are very excited about! "Cambodian Curry" is our 3rd new flavour to join our filled chocolate collection this year, and we have named this chocolate "Siem Reap". It is one of the more innovative flavours in our collection.
Siem Reap is the city close to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat & temples in Cambodia. We went there in 2005, after watching the film In The Mood For Love - the final scene was filmed in Angkor Wat. The film has such beautiful cinematography that your eyes will be in for a real treat.
We have had the idea of making a chocolate with a South-East Asia style curry for well over a year. Whilst the obvious choice would have been a Thai curry, one of the first ideas that came to our minds was actually a Khmer curry that we had for dinner in Siem Reap, after a day exploring the beautiful Angkor complex. The fragrance and flavour in this Cambodian curry was so beautifully balanced that, to this date, we still remember that wonderful meal we had, after a long day of sightseeing in Angkor (starting with watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat).
(Didn't we look young in this picture?!)
We started our research last year, studying various recipes and Cambodian cuisine in general. It's a cuisine that has not got as much attention as its neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam, as the flavour is often regarded as more "bland", even though there's a huge overlap in terms of ingredients used in the cooking. For example, the Thai curry often has a far more fiery chilli flavour than its Cambodian cousin. However, what we have found is that Khmer/Cambodian cuisine emphasises on complex and contrasting flavours, but the overall profile has to be perfectly balanced - whether it's in a single dish or in the whole meal. So this actually fits in quite nicely with our philosophy in chocolate also - a balanced flavour between the filling and the chocolate!
Whilst we don't just put all the ingredients in a savoury curry recipe into the chocolate ganache, we still end up using a considerable number of ingredients in order to achieve the desired complex flavour profile. In the picture above, you can see some of the ingredients that play a role in the ganache: lemongrass, galangal (which is similar to ginger but is more citrusy and less pungent), kaffir lime leaves and chilli. These ingredients (together with a few others) are infused into the cream, which then form the basis of the ganache.
At the same time, we had to decide what chocolate to use for the ganache and the shell. From the start, we knew that it would work as a white chocolate, but we kept an open mind and decided to try several milk and dark chocolates also as part of the product development. All the milk and dark chocolates we have tried clashed with the flavour. Even for the white chocolate, we tried a few different ones, and in the end we have settled for one that's made with a Dominican Republic cocoa butter and has a subtle honey and marzipan note that works in harmony with the complex Cambodian curry flavour.
We have had quite a number of people tasting the chocolate in the last few months and we got some very positive feedback. Without telling some of our tasters the flavour, it's interesting to find out what they could taste - most of them could tell at least 2-3 ingredients and commented on how different flavours came through at different times. They were all pleasantly surprised once we have told them about the flavour. For us, we usually detect the lemongrass first, and then the galangal / kaffir lime and coconut come through, and finishing on a slight warmth of the chilli at the back of the throat that mixes well with the white chocolate in the end.
"Siem Reap" is now available as part of our filled chocolates collection.