Smart Chocolate To read more articles like this, download Halal Gems Magazine here. ALIYA ZAIDI Former mathematician turned award-winning chocolatier Aneesh Popat has invented a new type of chocolate. It’s a water based ganache that contains no butter or cream, which means it contains 40-50% fewer calories than commercially available brands of truffles. Aneesh has combined his chocolate with Eastern and Western influences to innovative and exciting flavours, from rose and cinnamon ganache, to lime and chilli truffle. How did you go from maths to chocolate?! After studying maths, I went to India to study philosophy. It concerned the philosophy of life and the idea that we need to go beyond simply paying our bills. We need to pursue what truly makes us happy. So, I thought about what I really love, and that was chocolate! What inspired you to invent the water ganache? We started the business in 2011 with the aim of creating the best chocolate in the world. When we started experimenting, we found that omitting butter and cream led to clarity of flavour, as the purity of the chocolate really comes through. It allows the chocolate to really speak for itself. The idea for combining water with chocolate is inspired by the work of French chemist, Dr. Hervé. He discovered a technique to create a chocolate mousse with only two ingredients, something which has been recreated by Heston Blumenthal. What should consumers be looking for when selecting a healthy, good quality chocolate bar? Firstly, your chocolate should contain no added oils or fats, such as palm oil, or any artificial or processed ingredients. You might think the percentage written on the bar is a good indicator of virtuousness, but this can be misleading. Technically, white chocolate should be labelled as 0%, but you often see 20% written on the packaging because it’s referring to the percentage of cocoa butter. The second thing to look for is price. Typically, you can expect to pay £5 to £6 for a good quality bar of chocolate. What’s the manufacturing process behind the chocolate and how do you ensure that it’s fair trade? There are three people in the chocolate supply chain: a farmer, a chocolate maker and a chocolatier. We work directly with chocolate makers, so there’s only one person in the chain before us. Because we have a short supply chain, we know the farmer is paid a fair price. We don’t use any mass produced cocoa because this goes against our core philosophy of injecting character and personality into our chocolate. The FairtradeTM logo can be misleading; if you’re paying an additional 50p, of that only an additional half a pence may be going to the farmer. That’s less than 2p per bar of chocolate. We just don’t believe that can be fair trade. How do you come up the unusual flavour combinations? What flavours are popular with your customers, and what’s your personal favourite? We work with food scientists who look at the chemical composition of different flavours to see what goes well together. Salted caramel is always a winner, but one of our most popular flavours is a candied apple chocolate with cinnamon which tastes a bit like apple strudel. My personal favourite is Vaara, a special water ganache that we created for HH, the Maharaja of Rajhastan, which contains rose, quince, vanilla and honey.