Home FOOD All Things Food Confessions of a chocoholic

Confessions of a chocoholic

Let’s face it, chocolate is one of life’s deliciously feel-good treats. No matter how you enjoy it … as a bar, in a cake, a hot drink, or a drizzled over ice cream … chocolate brings joy. We chat with The Chocolate Tier Kate Waller, who believes that making chocolate for a living is the ultimate dream job.

Kate Waller’s love affair with chocolate began almost two decades ago when she decided to take a break from the restaurant industry … opting instead to import a few chocolate fountains from the UK and start a business of supplying chocolate fountains and decadent dessert tables at functions.

Then, with her chocolate addiction now raring to go, she teamed up with quality chocolate producers Richard and Loraine Tomes, and launched the first boutique-styled chocolate shop at Casalinga Restaurant, called The Chocolate Tier. This was followed by a shop at Cradlestone Mall and then Blueberry Hill Hotel. But, almost on the verge of opening another store in Linden, The Chocolate Tier came to a grinding halt. Covid!

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“We had to face the bitter reality. There had already been a decline in rand spend on luxury chocolate gifts. Hotels were closed and travel was stopped. With no walk in trade, we started to shut all of our shops.”

An all-around happy person with a nothing-can-stop-me attitude, Kate didn’t see it as a bad space to be in. She and her team took the time to get creative with new product line called Artisan Treat and The Chocolate Tier turned an already successful online shop into a more interactive retail space. The main change for 2020 was the inclusion of virtual chocolate pairings and experiences. Massive success!

“My fave indulgence
is our Dutched cocoa biscuits half dipped in 70 per cent dark chocolate. I put them in the freezer and eat them while hiding around the corner so that none of my children can see me and tell me off
and ask me to share.”

She does the most delicious pairing imaginable. Think chocolate and bubbly, whisky and chocolate, wine and chocolate and nuts and whisky. How does it work? Easy. Kate puts everything you will need for the pairing together – from the tasting samples, assorted hand-crafted African origin truffles, tasting mat with tasting notes and an easy-to-follow set-up guide, and off it goes, reaching you wherever you are in South Africa in time for your scheduled pairing to take place via Zoom or Teams. Then the fun begins. Kate and her specialists guide you through the pairing where you’ll experience how they marry (or don’t!). A great idea to do with a group of friends, family, colleagues or clients. We’re planning to sign up for the gin and chocolate pairing option, which is coming soon, so be sure to keep an eye out on their website.

Fancy something a little more hands-on and personal? Then you’ll be keen on the sessions Kate does in person. As well as the ones above, there’s also a Dipped, Rolled & Dusted interactive workshop where you create your own original deconstructed truffles; a single malt whisky and chocolate affair, where you will try a range of five different boutique single malts from Scotland; the history of chocolate, with an educational chat about the origins and makeup of chocolate and how to taste it; and so much more. These experiences are offered all around the country, in the comfort of your home or the venue of your choice.

One we – and Kate – are particularly excited about happens monthly, right on our doorstep. An afternoon with The Chocolate Tier at Kleine Constantia Boutique Hotel, where you’ll learn about the history of chocolate, followed by a Jordan wine and handcrafted chocolate truffles pairing, served in Riedel glassware. Yes, you will even learn what a huge difference drinking wine out of the correct glass makes! Pencil April 9 in your diary right now … mark off from 11am. The cost is R580 a person, which includes a plated lunch.

Pairings not really up your alley? No problem. Kate and her team make some really to-die-for delicious treats you can order. From grown-up treats, like champagne truffles, dipped orange peel, dark chocolate rolls, chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake to a chocolate berry ganache cake, a collection of all things sweet and a really divine carrot cake. Hello Easter!
Whether you have a sweet tooth or you are looking for a gift, chocolate is the answer. Click, click and voila! The Chocolate Tier has saved the day.

Chocolate myths & facts:
• Chocolate causes cravings. Rubbish. We say that when we get angry we can’t resist chocolate, is it the chocolate’s fault? I think not, the cravings are actually more often than not a sugar craving.
• Chocolate gives migraines. I don’t think chocolate gives us a migraine. As I understand it chocolate is implicated as a trigger in less than five per cent of migraine sufferers. I think that the headaches are related to chemicals such as Phenylethylamine. These chemicals are also found in aged cheese, processed meats, coffee, peanuts and red wine.
• The fat in chocolate makes you fat. Chocolate fat is not all bad! Cocoa butter, the fat that occurs naturally in cocoa beans, contains a lot of fat. The good news is that it is all good fat, the same that is found in olive oil. Studies show that the good chocolate fats largely counteract the bad, having a positive effect on cholesterol.
• Chocolate is high in caffeine and is bad for the heart. Chocolate does contain caffeine but in very small amounts. Tea and coffee are richer in caffeine than chocolate.
• Chocolate is addictive because it comes from a plant that you make drugs from. Cocoa refers to a powder made from cacao beans, or to a drink made with this powder. Coca refers to plants that are used to make cocaine.
• Chocolate starts off as a nut or a bean. Cacao beans are technically not beans or legumes, but rather the seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree.

Something saucy
Chocolate sauces are the perfect partner for desserts, pancakes, waffles, fresh fruits and ice creams. Here are three of my favourite ones.
Dark chocolate sauce
Makes 500ml
You’ll need: 125ml full cream milk; 125ml cream (not too thick) 50g caster sugar; 200g The Chocolate Tier dark 72% chocolate; 50g unsalted butter – softened
How to:
Put the milk, the cream and sugar into a small pot and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until melted, stir in the softened butter. Serve warm over ice cream – whatever the weather. Although it can be kept in the fridge for a few days, we don’t see the point as it’s so quick to make.

Zesty white chocolate sauce
Makes about 300ml
You’ll need: 150ml cream (not too thick); 4 Tbsp full cream milk; 200g white chocolate chopped; grated zest of 1 lemon; 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
How to:
Put the cream and the milk into a small pot and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth, then stir in the lemon zest and olive oil. This combination is perfect for fruity Summery desserts. I especially love it with iced mixed berries.

Milk chocolate and hazelnut sauce
Makes about 300ml
You’ll need: 200g milk chocolate, roughly chopped, 75ml cream (not too thick); 1 tsp vanilla extract;
2 tsp clear honey; 25g of ground hazelnuts, roasted
How to:
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. You can do this over a double boiler, but I just do it in the microwave a few seconds at a time so as not to burn the chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the cream, vanilla, and honey until smooth and glossy, then stir in the ground hazelnuts. Serve warm in pancakes or over fresh fruit.

Details: thechocolatetier.co.za or follow @thechocolatetieragency on Facebook and Insta.

Text: RIALIEN FURSTENBERG. • Dress: LeChic Closet by Heidie. • Photographer: JACO BOTHMA. • Make-up & hair: ELAINE BOSHOFF. • Venue: KLEINE CONSTANTIA BOUTIQUE GUEST HOUSE

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