By Minka Tiangco
These days, you can see and buy chocolate items almost anywhere you go. There are store-bought chocolate, restaurants and café’s serving chocolate desserts, and many more.
But for those who have a penchant for the finer things in life and want to taste high quality chocolate, seeking out good desserts in five-star hotels is your best bet. And what better time to do that than, today, World Chocolate Day?
Below are six hotels from where to get your gourmet chocolate fix:
The Manila Hotel
The Manila Hotel is well-known for its pralines. In fact, even foreigners flock to the hotel just to get some pralines to take home.
Their head chocolatier, Chef Norina Nicolas Cristobal, has been perfecting the hotel’s praline recipe since 1979. Aside from the pralines, Chef Nori also likes to make chocolate bars, truffles, and chocolate sculptures. She said couverture chocolate and cacao nibs are used in her creations to underscore the bittersweet flavor of the chocolate.
Holiday Inn & Suites Makati
The pastry chefs at Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, headed by Executive Pastry Chef Michael Sison, want guests to not only get good-tasting food but to also be treated to a visual experience. Almost all its award-winning pastries, like its ube cheesecake, have some element of chocolate in them. Several fanciful chocolate sculptures, that do not even look like chocolate anymore, adorn different rooms and hallways in the hotel.
VIP guests also receive chocolate sculptures in their rooms as gifts from the hotel. Chef Mike, who has been working with chocolate for the past 20 years or so, said it takes him at least three to four hours to create his abstract chocolate pieces. One of his proudest creations, a modern chocolate sculpture of a man riding a bicycle, is still displayed at the hotel two years after it was created.
Chocol8 Shop, The Garage, City of Dreams
City of Dreams’ Chocol8 Shop is just that – every child’s dream chocolate shop. Inside, one can find fantastical chocolate sculptures and chocolate in different flavors, shapes, and colors.
Award-winning Head Chocolatier Tweet Obsequio is behind the shop’s whimsical chocolate creations. With about 12 years of experience as a chocolatier under her belt and the Chocol8 Shop’s complete line up of machines, Chef Tweet whips up unique chocolate flavors.
And since customers are always looking for something special, chocolate sculptures are made available year-round at the shop. Easy stand-out flavors are the white chocolate tiles with tropical fruits and the white chocolate bars with cheese. Their best-selling chocolate sculpture is a Japanese doll called “Sakura”.
For World Chocolate Day, the Diamond Hotel focused on giving their guests chocolate items that they can take home for themselves or give as gifts to their loved ones. Among their macarons, pralines, and chocolate cakes, their signature Super Moist Chocolate Cake is their best-selling item.
Pastry Sous Chef Ricky Rodriguez said they use 42 percent chocolate and imported ingredients to make the moist chocolate cake. It takes about two hours to bake and it is freshly baked for their patrons every day. Chef Ricky said the cake is a perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness and is not cloying even if it very moist.
As a special treat for guests at Makati Shangri-La on World Chocolate Day, those who will be dining at the hotel will get a free praline courtesy of the newest chef on the team, Executive Pastry Chef David Burgos.
In an interview, Chef David said he wants to reintroduce the classic flavor of chocolate to the Filipino palate, which he hopes to achieve with his pralines. The executive pastry chef said he sources two kinds of dark chocolate from Europe and employs an innovative roasting method to highlight the natural flavor of the cacao bean. Makati Shangri-La is also planning to release a new line of cakes on Chef David’s debut.
For Sofitel Manila, every day is world chocolate day. The hotel boasts of having three of the biggest chocolate fountains in Manila.
Executive Pastry Chef Rolando Macatangay, or Chef Mac as he is affectionately called by his team, said more than half of his desserts are chocolate-based. His chocolate sculptures and whole chocolate cakes filled with nuts and berries are always a hit among the guests.
When creating chocolate pieces, Chef Mac uses couverture chocolate and chocolate sourced from France and Belgium. His five guidelines are texture, taste, variety, color and shape, which means that everything that comes out of his kitchen is nothing less than chocolate perfection.