Couverture chocolate is totally different from regular baker’s or powdered chocolate. It has a higher ratio of cocoa butter that, when set, gives the chocolate a glossy sheen and a satisfying snap. The flavour is mellow, with perfectly balanced sweetness.
A ganache (a mix of chocolate and cream) made with couverture chocolate is the ideal base for a good hot chocolate.
“Chocolateering is pretty fascinating, and ganache is the entry point to that world,” says Simon Cancio, owner for Brickfields. “The finish is good, and it tastes bloody amazing.”
Here are five places to try couverture hot chocolate, plus Brickfields’ own hot chocolate recipe.
The Grounds of the City
They call the hot chocolate “deconstructed” at the Grounds of the City because it’s a DIY affair. A glass mug of sublime liquid chocolate comes on a silver tray with a small jug of warm milk and a long stirring spoon. “We take a lot of pride in the flavour and beauty of our hot chocolate,” says Linda Maksic, coffee sommelier.
Maksic says the drink makes people slow down. “We’re used to mindlessly drinking coffee every day,” says Maksic. “The deconstructed hot chocolate gets people to stop and engage with what they’re drinking and appreciate what’s gone into it.”
Kakawa uses a pure, high-quality couverture chocolate, free from additives, to make its bonbons and chocolate sweets.
“Our couverture hot chocolate is made from a ganache,” says Jade Gilmour, apprentice pastry chef. “The chocolate is melted and heated with cream. Once it cools down, it sets to a nice thick consistency, like a spread.”
All that’s left then is to re-liquefy the ganache with milk for a warm, decadent hot chocolate.
Tina Angelidis, co-owner of Adora is frank about the simplicity of her hot chocolate. “There’s not anything to it,” she says. “We use Belgian couverture chocolate to make our hot chocolate. That’s it. I’m a purist. I don’t think you should be adding sugar to anything when it’s not needed.”
Adora’s original Earlwood shop has been open for 20 years, and the hot chocolate is so popular customers can buy hot chocolate sticks and cubes to recreate the drink at home.
Bread and Circus
Glance at the menu and it’s not obvious that Bread and Circus’ drink, The Preston, is hot chocolate. The scent of Earl Grey tea gives away the drink’s secret: the milk is infused with tea before being heated with melting pieces of dark chocolate.
The flavour is different from traditional creamy hot chocolate. It’s rich, with a subtle Earl Grey flavour, and bittersweet in the way that only dark chocolate can be.
Perfecting Brickfields’ couverture hot chocolate has been an iterative process. “We started out making ours from 70 per cent cocoa, but it freaked people out,” says owner Simon Cancio. “The real dark chocolate was too fruity and bitter.”
Now Brickfields uses a 55 per cent chocolate and doesn’t add any sugar. It’s a ganache-based drink, where chocolate and cream are melted together and allowed to set before stirring the mixture through with milk.
Brickfields’ Couverture Hot Chocolate
650ml pouring cream
300g good-quality dark chocolate (Brickfields uses Sicao dark chocolate with 55.4 per cent cocoa solids)
75g chocolate ganache (see above)
Pour cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, removing it from the heat immediately after it starts to boil.
Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate and cream with a spatula until it has completely combined and emulsified to a ganache. This can be served in a jug, or once cooled, stored in the fridge.
Pour the milk and chocolate ganache into a jug, then stretch the chocolate milk with a milk steamer until it reaches approximately 80 degrees. If you don't have a coffee machine at home, you can heat the milk and ganache in a small saucepan stirring with a spatula. It’s important not to use a whisk.
Pour into a mug and serve.