Chocolate is among the world’s favorite foods. We are inundated with a variety of brands and flavors added to chocolate bars and other chocolate products. The popularity of dark chocolate or chocolates with a high percentage of cacao (ranging from 70-90%) is increasing, as the health benefits are being touted as a great excuse to eat them.
Soft Nougat with Pistachio and beautifully wrapped chocolate by Patchi
If there is ever one occasion or reason to have chocolate it is during a special time- a wedding, the birth of a baby, and, of course, ‘Eid.
Though I am an admitted chocolate lover, I don’t like all chocolates. I like the ones that taste like real chocolate because they are made with natural ingredients and have the addition of things like pistachios, hazelnuts or nougat. This love affair stems from my experience as a child when family members would arrive from Sicily with suitcases full of real chocolate in some form: Baci by Perugina, Ferrero Rocher and of course, Nutella- the now famous in America chocolate spread with hazelnut. The candies were dotted with chopped nuts and had even more decadent chocolate in the middle. No other types of chocolate could match them.
Strawberry Cheesecake chocolate by Patchi
It’s been a very long time since I’ve had such similar tasting chocolate. I’ve gravitated towards other high-end chocolates only to find that they have real vanilla extract (and therefore, alcohol) in them and even settled on bittersweet Mexican baking chocolate as some of my favorites simply because they are so pure (and make great hot chocolate).
But when it comes to gift-giving, there are few companies that adhere to the values of the halal consumer while maintaining exceptional taste, high quality and a beautiful presentation at the same time.
Milk Chocolate with White Cotton Candy and Pistachio bits by Patchi
Until recently, I had never heard of Patchi chocolates. Where have I been?
They’re a Lebanese company that’s been in business for well over 30 years and has recently made their products available in the U.S. I was fortunate enough to be able to taste all of their chocolates and nougat products (tough job, right?) before introducing them to you. With the first bite, I felt like I was either back in Italy tasting the fine European chocolates my family saves for special occasions or somewhere in Paris nibbling at the tastings in the best chocolaterie. Little did I know that these products were well-established and popular in the Middle East, all while adhering to halal dietary standards.
Variety of beautifully-gold and sharp silver wrapped Patchi chocolates- what a wonderful gift to give on ‘Eid!
I just love the unique names and delicious, halal flavors of some of their chocolates:
Peanut Butter & Caramel
Though they also have a Nougat with Pistachios treat that is out of this world- not too sweet and very, very soft. Just the way nougat should be.
I spoke with Ziad Kurjie of Patchi in the U.S. and asked him a few questions about their products, including an explanation on the difference between chocolate liquor and chocolate liquer, which is often very confusing for the halal consumer in terms of avoiding alcohol consumption.
MHK: What makes Patchi products stand out ahead of other chocolates or desserts in the same or similar category?
Patchi: Patchi products have been, since the founding of the company in 1974, made of premium quality all-natural ingredients. We source our supply of pure Cocoa butter and mass from the top quality producers around the world. We produce our products on demand, so our factories never stock product and only gets produced when the respective stores order them for sale in their respective markets. Our factories are ISO 9002 and UKQAS certified. Our supplies and roasting processes of nuts have been perfected over the years and delicately blends in the various recipes on our menus. Our use of the nuts found along the Mediterranean basin along with techniques in chocolate making traditions in Belgium and Switzerland brings in the edge in our menu where much of our recipes are universal in taste yet rich as unique as they may be. We also introduce delicacies of the “old-world’ into new recipes and concoctions such as Loukoum (Turkish Delights), Almonds (Confetti), Gianduja (Cream of Hazelnut), Feuilletine (French), Pralines, and Nougats. While over the years some chocolate makers resorted to the use of Cocoa butter substitutes such as vegetable oil extracts and the likes, Patchi maintained the standards of use of the premium quality cocoa ingredients for 100% of its needs and thus maintained the taste profile of pure cocoa in all of its chocolates.
MHK: Do the products contain any vanilla extract (w/even a small trace of alcohol)?
Patchi: We don’t use Vanilla Extract. We use organic Vanillin which is an (non-synthetic) compound and is a subset of the “Vanilla Extract” composition of several hundred compounds. Our use of Vanillin does not introduce any alcohol into our recipes.
MHK: Do the products contain chocolate liquor or chocolate liquer? Can you explain for the consumers the difference between chocolate liquor and chocolate liquer?
Patchi: Chocolate Liqueur is an alcoholic drink (mostly Vodka) that is flavored with Chocolate/Cocoa, and other ingredients. “Chocolate Liquor” is the purest form chocolate and when it is molded it is what people refer to as bitter chocolate or unsweetened baking chocolate. Patchi never produces any products with alcoholic content or features products of third party packaged alcoholic products.
MHK: Are the products halal-certified or in the process of being halal certified?
Patchi: Patchi was founded in Lebanon in 1974. It has been selling its products in most of the Muslim world since its early days. We have followed the rules of maintaining halal ingredients throughout. Our laboratories and specialists continue to maintain such standards and look into certifications when necessary for its customers.
Now, for the giveaway you should all want to enter….
What are three things you look for when purchasing chocolate to give as a gift (i.e. beautiful packaging, high quality, rich taste) and why? Please explain your answer in detail.
Giveaway Guidelines and Details
Your answer in the comments section of this post will enter you into the giveaway for one Patchi chocolate package, retail value of $46.00
Winners will be randomly chosen from those who follow the giveaway eligibility guidelines. Giveaway ends November 4, 2011 at 12:01 am. Winner will be announced on August 5, 2011. Giveaway prize will be sent to a U.S. address only.
Email addresses will be shared with Patchi. By entering the giveaway you are agreeing to allow your email address to be shared for the purpose of receiving updates and promotions about Patchi products.
To Enter the Giveaway:
1) Leave a relevant comment after this post that answers the question: What are three things you look for when purchasing chocolate to give as a gift (i.e. beautiful packaging, high quality, rich taste) and why?
Entries (comments plus other requirements) must be received by 12:00 am on November 4, 2011.
Thanks for participating and stay posted for more giveaways from Saffron Road and others during the Hajj and ‘Eid ul Adha season!