There is a new Willy Wonka in town and her name is Bhumika. Just like Mr. Wonka of yore, Bhumika and the team at ITC Maratha have created a chocolate wonderland called Fabelle. Luxury chocolates, made with pure cocoa and devoid of additives and chemicals, are rare in India which is why ITC's initiative to create chocolate boutiques is such a fantastic idea. There are two kinds of chocolates you can buy at Fabelle - the boxed variety that is manufactured in the ITC factory in Bangalore or the brilliant creations the chefs come up with inside the boutique. No matter which of the two you go for, this is chocolate at par with the likes of Valrhona.
Fabelle invited me yesterday for a chocolate tasting experience. We kicked off with their square ganaches - these are essentially your cocoa and cream squares coated in cocoa powder - what others called truffles.
The ganache squares come in three variants - milk chocolate from ivory coast, dark chocolate from Ghana and an apple and cinnamon variety. The last one was my instant favourite; chocolate is the star here but apple and cinnamon flavours shine through. You can buy these truffles in boxes of 20. Or you can buy the next set I tasted, called the elements.
The elements are pralines - hard shells filled with a variety of flavours. I loved the earth, coated with a crunchy textured chocolate. But the star of this box and the whole afternoon of tasting for me was Fire - white chocolate, candied mango, ancho chilli - this is a flavour bomb. Apart from these two, you can also get single origin bars and hazelnut and milk chocolate pralines suited for folks looking for something sweeter. You can buy these gorgeous looking boxes as is, or tell them to create a variety of hampers for you. They are nice that way!
Throughout the tasting, Bhumika and I chatted away about the origin of these chocolates and the process of chocolate making. For someone as young as her, she seems to have mastered the art of chocolate really well. Which is why, when we moved to the next part of our tasting, I left it all in the chocolatier's hand. At Fabelle, they let you create cups of your choice. So you can pick empty chocolate shells and fill them with a variety of toppings and flavours. Bhumika made mine in dark chocolate and filled it with berries, white creme, almonds and a hearty sprinkle of salt. It was layers upon layers of flavour.
Fabelle has also created a whole range of desserts made out of their chocolate, including cheesecakes and eclairs and a gorgeous black forest cake. But I had had my fill of sweets by then so I settled instead, for a final cup of hot chocolate. Mark my words, if you have been looking for good hot chocolate in Mumbai, this is it! Pure milk whipped with two kinds of chocolate and topped not with marshmallows, but with house made pistachio nougat, there isn't a better chocolate drink in town. There is a camera right above Bhumika's workstation so you can even see her making your chocolate or plating your dessert on the TV inside the cafe.
India is a country that grew up on Dairy Milk. Luxury chocolates have always been something you bring back from trips abroad. But if dutyfree Lindt truffles are your primary reason to travel, Fabelle may just be all the cheer you need. Of course, the hot chocolate is my reason to make Fabelle a constant favourite.