Expert chocolatier Marc Wirth, managing director of luxury Swiss chocolatier Sprüngli Middle East, reveals trends in the professional use of chocolate.
Looking at the professional use of chocolate, what trends have you witnessed recently?
Until recently, the main trend was a combination of chocolates in unusual exotic flavours or fillings like saffron, chili pepper, blackberry, lemon, etc. Aside from these, bright pop colours and shapes were in vogue too, the visual aspect is vital due to the rise of social media.
The trend now is moving towards dark chocolate, with a higher percentage of cocoa and chocolates with less sugar. Both trends play into our existing assortment of dark pralines and truffles, some of which are made using luxury chocolate beans from places like Madagascar or Venezuela.
What types of chocolate are most in demand?
The traditional milk chocolate with caramelized hazelnuts is still one of the most in demand chocolates. But also, combinations with dark chocolate and hazelnut are amongst the favourites.
We are seeing a trend towards grand cru chocolates as well. Dark chocolate has the reputation of being ‘bitter’ but once customers try our dark chocolate they are mostly surprised by the smooth consistency we have and the variety of our dark chocolate collection is very special. The delicate variation of tastes is similar to that of a sommelier comparing different grapes, depending on where the cacao is coming from, the taste is different.
In recent years, what innovations and developments have been seen from the professional sector?
Each chocolate found in a Sprüngli boutique has been carefully crafted by hand by our team of chocolatiers, nevertheless the professional sector has developed a lot in terms of semi-finished products. This makes it easier for pastry chefs and chocolatiers to create their own creations, whilst saving a lot of time. The semi-finished product phenomenon was first found in Dijon. The new development not only includes chocolate, but also caramels, fillings and products created from processing nuts in particular.
Looking at the production of Sprüngli chocolate, where and how is it produced and what sustainability measures are taken by the brand?
Only the best ingredients are used in our in-house production and products, all with impeccable origins. All products are guaranteed free of flavouring enhancers and colouring. Many of our ingredients are sourced directly out of Zurich, Switzerland. In order to be able to guarantee the freshness of all products, they are produced in a timely fashion and as needed. The cocoa bean is the most important raw material for manufacturing chocolate and our cocoa is sourced from the world’s best growing regions.
The cocoa beans for the Grand Cru chocolates, for instance, come from selected regions in South America and on Madagascar. Other cocoa beans come from Ghana, where one of the best Forastero cocoa beans is cultivated. Confiserie Sprüngli does not buy the cocoa beans itself; instead the couverture it uses is manufactured to its recipes and specifications by its longstanding Swiss partners. The buying policy of the two suppliers is aligned with the high-quality standards and the ethical principles of Confiserie Sprüngli. The company places great value on fairness for working conditions and on compensating the producers. Within the context of joint visits conducted together with the suppliers in the cultivation areas, their adherence is regularly reviewed.
For professional use, tell us about the different ranges you offer, and the quantities that they’re available in terms of packaging size.
We do have a range of corporate packages for companies who would like to gift chocolate boxes to their business partners, friends, staff or any special event. These gift boxes vary in size, materialization, price and filling. The best thing is always to get in touch with us and we will customize the gift boxes as per the clients need, nevertheless these boxes are not for wholesale though.
For chefs looking to use Sprüngli chocolate in their kitchens, which suppliers do you work with in the region?
We do not have a supplier in the region for chefs, Sprüngli is a family run company and all production occurs in Switzerland. Sprüngli products are only available in our boutiques, which makes it very special to have two Sprüngli stores in the UAE because we do not have any other boutiques outside of Switzerland than these two.
For more information about Sprüngli, visit spruengli.ch.