First there was milk, dark, and white chocolate. Now there is blond.
Invented and launched recently by Valrhona — one of the top chocolate companies in France — blond chocolate, dubbed Dulcey, began its life as a happy accident.
The story has the ring of a fairy tale: the head chef at Valrhona’s chocolate school, Frédéric Bau, put some white chocolate in a bain-marie to melt it, and then forgot about it.
Ten hours later, he followed the beautiful aroma back to the kitchen where it had taken on the characteristics of caramelized milk. It developed a gorgeous blond colour and an unusual toasty flavour that lingers on the tongue.
“The taste of Dulcey has an emotional dimension that makes it a very unique chocolate,” says Quentin Chapuis of Valrhona Canada. “It reminds a lot of people of the butter biscuits they ate when they were kids.”
Valrhona first rolled out the product by getting it into the hands of some of Canada’s top pastry chefs, including the chef at Maison Boulud in Montreal, Thomas Haas in Vancouver, and Nadège Nourian, a fourth-generation pastry chef with two shops in Toronto.
Adored by those I spoke to who have already experimented with it in pastries, truffles, and other baked desserts, it offers pastry chefs and chocolatiers a new level of seasonality to their menus. They say customers tend to crave dark chocolate desserts more in the winter, but in the summer they like their sweets to be lighter (and milk chocolate is often dismissed as too sweet). Blond chocolate fits the bill and also happens to pair well with fruits.
I first sampled Dulcey at a funky new chocolate shop in San Francisco where it was sold in bars in which the creamy caramelized chocolate was combined with raspberries and pralines. Divine. One bite and I knew I had tasted something completely new. I sent a tweet to Vancouver chocolate expert Eagranie Yuh. It said: “I bought a bar of something @craftsmanwolves called blond chocolate. It’s fantastic — but what is it?”
Now I know. And I’m hooked. Now you know, too.
I’m happy to report that Valrhona’s Dulcey is already available in Ottawa at the following stores:
La Bottega, 64 George St.
Grace in the Kitchen, 442 Hazeldean Rd. (professional size, sold in bulk)
International Cheese, 40 Byward Market
It can also be purchased online.