If I had to pick one food to specialize in, a food major if you will, it would be chocolate.
I will almost go so far as admitting I eat it daily, having become quite the purveyor of the best of the best. If you followed me during my German road trip, you would have watched as I taste-tested the best offerings that Germany, France, and Switzerland had to offer, judging them on their flavours, textures, quality, and price.
So, now that we’ve got my credentials out of the way, let’s talk Calgary. One of my favourite places, Choklat, newly re-opened, after closing down their location in Inglewood. You may already know them for two things: their hot chocolate and their truffles. But, as I’m about to show you, they’re so much more.
I was invited to check out their new location in the Northeast – at 3601B 21 Street NE, give it a snoop, and learn about what other delights they have to offer.
The focus at Choklat is on true bean to bar production. Purchasing their cocoa beans on a sustainable-trade basis, they start at step one, melt, and refine them, following through to the end product. This is much different from most of the chocolatiers that you will find in Calgary – whom actually just melt down old bars to make their new creations.
When I first walked into the space, I was impressed by how big, open, and clean everything looked. Glass doors welcome you to take a peek into the chocolate process, providing a feeling of welcoming and transparency. You can stand there for hours, watching the staff move about, filling moulds, testing products, rolling truffles, layering on icings…
What caught my eye were the seemingly giant refiners, which swirl and swirl the chocolate until it’s that addictingly smooth texture. Typically, the standard refining time is 24 hours – which is the case for your average chocolate. But, Choklat is anything but average. So, they use a refining time of 36-72 hours – which gives the finished chocolate product an almost silky texture.
Of course, after the chocolate is refined into the perfect texture, it’s hand-poured into moulds or frothed for drinking.
For the purposes of research, I gleefully taste-tested some of the staff’s favourites.
Starting, with the bars.
While their most popular is the Brazilian milk chocolate, I selected the Porcelana because it’s one of the most rare, and commonly known as the Holy Grail of chocolate. The bar itself is 70% dark chocolate, and the beans come from the Tabasco region in Mexico. So rare, Choklat is one of the only distributors North-America wide.
Now, being more of a milk-chocolate lover myself, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed the Porcelana. It was unlike any of the dark chocolate I’ve had in the past, and I could really see acquiring a taste for it. A piece here and there would be absolutely perfect following dinner or paired with wine, cheese, and fruit.
The chocolate itself was silky, smooth, and moist – with a rich but not bitter taste. In fact, there was even a fruity flavour, which is crazy considering fruit is never used anywhere in the process.
I also sampled a variety of truffles, as they are one of Choklat’s best selling items. And they are PERFECT for when you’re in trouble with the lady at home.
In store, they’ve stocked their five most popular, but online you can choose from an assortment of fillings, outer layers, and coatings in order to customize each set exactly to your liking.
In my basket, I selected milk chocolate coated in dark chocolate, dark chocolate coated in cocoa powder, peanut butter coated in dark chocolate, and dark chocolate filled with baileys.
The centre of each truffle was milky, smooth and absolutely delicious. Compared to a Lindor ball (my now old favourite), it’s much more smooth – and much bigger! The combination of different chocolates and coatings was really interesting and each individual truffle felt like quite an indulgent treat.
If I had to pick a fave, I would say the peanut butter. But in reality, I would recommend them all.
Of course, since I was already there, I couldn’t turn down a hot chocolate – or two.
If you haven’t had a Choklat drinking chocolate before, you are seriously missing out. The richness of the liquefied chocolate, the infusion of spices, and the staple blue whipped cream all combine to make it extraordinary.
They’re also extremely filling, so reader beware.
I’ve had the classic OMG before, which is a heightened version of your average hot chocolate. So this time, I decided to try something new.
First, was the Autumn Breeze. A milk chocolate dusted with hints of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
And second, was the Salted Caramel. A new addition (watch out YYC Hot Chocolate fest!), the sweetness of the thick caramel paired perfectly with the flecks of sea salt sprinkled into the whipped cream. This was probably my new favourite – but next time, I might have to try the Hazelnut Butter concoction.
After I was filled up with goodies, I had the opportunity to talk to the Master himself, Brad, and get his take on Choklat’s future. They’ve relocated to a bigger space with the intent to deliver products North-America wide. While there will always be some goodies in store, they will be moving to an online-based model in the near future, where you can order what you want and have it delivered to your door within days.
It literally couldn’t be easier and let’s admit it, when is having chocolates show up at your door not a dream come true. Immediately, I thought this would be a perfect way to send sweet treats to someone I’m thinking of – whether it be for a birthday, holiday, or just to say hi.
Unfortunately, you can only get the drinking chocolate in stores – but they are working on a revised version that you can take home and melt for yourself. Plus, a little birdie told me Choklat’s hoping to get their supply into a few well known cafes.
On my way out, I snatched up one last treat. A brownie.
After Brad let me in on the secret that the brownies were his favourite item on menu, I decided I couldn’t resist. The chewy centre, crunchy outside, and general chocolate flavour were of course delicious, as expected.
They always have a few in shop – with a few other baked goods like cookies & cupcakes.
What I like most about Choklat is that they are the only place in town with the Bean to Bar focus. In fact, they’re one of the only few in Canada. The quality of their ingredients is exceptionally high, and with that, it brings out a deeper and truer taste. Which means, there isn’t a bad item in the bunch!
Often when I’ve been in Europe, I’ve wandered down the streets and enjoyed handmade exceptional chocolates. In fact, touring the Zotter factory is one of my favourite memories. But, we haven’t really had much of this happen in Canada – and even less, in Calgary. Luckily, with Choklat now re-open, I think my cravings are about to be satisfied.
Delivery should be up and running soon, but you can always call the store and place an order for pick-up.