New choc on the block

Chocoholics rejoice — caterers have been creating all sorts of magic with the addictive treat By Victoria Prever


A sign like a huge bar of chocolate, with the barmitzvah boy’s name on the wrapper, greeted guests at a recent Celia Clyne function. “We also painted bowls and platters with chocolate, made profiterole pyramids and served chocolate dipped marshmallows on sticks with sprinkles as well as meringues dipped in chocolate,” says Clyne. “We used a chocolate fountain that has been specially made for us to be Shabbat-friendly — the temperature stays constant.”

Paul Rose, director of Events at Philip Small, recalls taking the chocolate fountain a stage further, constructing one so large that you could bathe in it. “It was 6m by 2m and was part of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed event we did in a marquee at a client’s home.” The same event saw security staff sprayed orange, to look like Roald Dahl’s oompa loompas. Long tables were decorated with thousands of jelly beans under Perspex. “For dessert, each adult had a sharing pot of chocolate fondue into which they could dip skewers of fruit and toasted marshmallows.”

Caterer Simone Krieger chose a chocolate buffet for her daughter’s batmitzvah. “My daughter is a self-confessed chocaholic and had two things she definitely wanted for her party — chocolate and sushi,” says Krieger. “So we created this for her. We had three chocolate fountains — dark, milk and white and every treat under the sun you could imagine in chocolate.”

Krieger’s party, catered by Ian Meltzer, included chocolate shards sprinkled with marshmallows, sprinkles and popping candy, chocolate mousse shots, chocolate truffles and more. “We gave everyone a huge plastic bib on which we’d had printed ‘I got messy at Eve’s Batmitzvah’. I was so petrified that all the parents of our teenage guests would be furious at me for ruining their child’s expensive batmitzvah outfit.”

It is not only the food that is made from chocolate at some simchahs. “We’ve made a table plan from chocolate,” says Clyne. “It was a huge dark chocolate slab on which we piped the guests’ names in white chocolate. At the end of the evening, they ate the lot.”

Clyne has served a myriad of chocolate puddings to her clients. “We do chocolate ‘bark’, which is a flat slab of chocolate on to which we scatter different-coloured edible decorations like sprinkles, glacé cherries, nuts. cranberries or pistachios. We break them up into random shapes. We also serve freshly fried churros (Spanish piped dough fritters) with a demi-tasse (mini cup) of chocolate dipping sauce.”

Adam Zeitlin has seen a change in our chocolatey tastes over the past few years. “People have moved from asking for the classic Bendicks mints to a more fun range of chocolates. We are serving chocolate fondues, whisky truffles, miniature salted caramel chocolate tarts and — very retro — chocolate-dipped orange peel.

Zeitlin also serves up a variety of versions of Rocky Road — made from chocolate melted with syrup and a choice of marshmallows, popping candy, nuts and fruits.

“We also serve a grown-up dessert which is individual pots of dipping sauces — dark, milk and light — with things to dip in them, such as fruit skewers and marshmallows on sticks,” he says.

All types of chocolate are now suitable to end a meat meal, says Zeitlin. “Not many people are aware, but you can now source not only dark parev chocolate, but also ‘milk’ and white parev versions.”

Caterer Ben Tenenblat has come up with a fun alternative to pick ’n’ mix bars. “Many other caterers do those but this is a more interesting take on the idea. Our chefs made a huge chocolate display which included a small river of chocolate that people could dip fruit into. It was a different take on a chocolate fountain. We also had shards of chocolate slabs coated in jelly beans, fruits, nuts and marshmallows. People were given small bags like old-fashioned paper sweet-shop bags and could just dig in and eat the whole display. By the end of the evening there was absolutely nothing left.”

The challenge for the caterer was keeping it from melting ahead of its big moment.

“We had to build it in the cold room on-site, on a cake trolley which we stored in the fridge until it was needed and then wheeled into the room for everyone to marvel at it.” There were no worries about it melting after that, as it vanished so fast.

At Food Story, Matt Rickard, the managing director, is also serving up a range of chocolate treats: “Chocolate remains the must-have dessert of indulgence and decadence. Our menus feature fondants, cremeux [a dense, soft pudding], brownies, flourless cakes, mousses and ganaches and our lunches and dinners are always finished with our rich water truffles [in which water replaces the cream, allowing more chocolate flavour to come through], which pack a chocolate-y punch.

“We use two chocolates in our kitchen, a 55 per cent cocoa and a 72 per cent cocoa solids that we use for our rich fondants and baking. Every season our menu has featured a flourless chocolate fondant, which currently is a salted chocolate version with coconut ice cream and yuzu.”

According to Rickard, mini dessert selections are becoming popular, either served at the table or passed around the room canapé-style.

“When we do that we can really turn up the volume on the chocolate with a tiny uber-rich pot of dark chocolate cremeux — delicious but so rich, we serve it in small portions only.”

Willy Wonka would be proud.

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