Chocolate review: Minimalist Chocolate, made in Cape Town, South Africa, from cacao and milk; no sugar added
Minimalist Chocolate: made in Cape Town. Two ingredients. Cacao (60%) and milk (40%). Unsweetened: Contains no sugar or artificial sweetener but there is natural occurring sugar in the lactose component in milk The range: As of March 2021, Minimalist Chocolate is available in slab form, Bon-Bons and Hot Chocolate Grenade Vegan: Oatm*lk chocolate – soon Where to buy: Purchase slabs online https://minimalistchocolate.com/ or in-store at Truth Coffee, Cape Town https://truth.capetown/ 36 Buitenkant Street. Bon-Bons and Hot Chocolate Grenade from Truth Price guide: R80 per slab, R48 for Hot Chocolate Grenade and R90 for Bon-Bons [5 in a box] Shipping: Yes, Minimalist can ship around the globe. E-mail: David@minimalistchocolate.com
Years ago, David Donde, founder of Truth Coffee in Cape Town, presented me with an exquisitely cupped espresso. When I reached for the sweetener/sugar bowl, he urged: “Please don’t. No sweetening required.” Quality coffee beans had been roasted in a way which stripped them of bitterness, he said. He was correct. Truth espresso was/is not bitter. It was a revelation. A few weeks ago, Donde invited me into Truth Coffee to experience, Minimalist Chocolate –artisan chocolate which is made from two ingredients – cacao and milk- no added sugar or sweetener and no additives. As with Truth Coffee, this is made possible by the roasting process which results in cacao – which is then blended with milk powder (from New Zealand) to create a creamy and rich chocolate.
Minimalist Chocolate IS rich and creamy. I started with the a sampling of the chocolate bar- slab. It is not sweet but there is no unpleasant bitter after-taste. It tastes buttery. I love my chocolate – usually in the evening or on a cold and rainy day. With Minimalist, David Donde is saying that one can eat more chocolate and that it is “guilt free”. I don’t go in for guilt in relation to food but I can see that many people do, so that is a very good proposition. Enjoy chocolate –which has no added sugar and chemicals.
Minimalist will interest those who need to avoid sugar because of diabetes and other issues. There is “no added” sugar or sweetener in Minimalist, but there is a small amount of naturally occurring sugar in the lactose which is in the milk powder, so it is advisable to consult a medical health professional. Minimalist bars are only composed only from cacao and milk. The difference between cacao and cocoa? Some say that the two terms are interchangeable. It appears that cacao trounces cocoa as it does not include sugar and other additives such as sulphur dioxide.
For those who want a minimally sweetened chocolate, Minimalist comes in Bon-Bon form and after sampling from a slab of Minimilast, I moved onto the Bon-Bons: Casings of unsweetened Minimalist are filled with creamy fillings. One gets the contrast between the base and then the delicious fillings: Hazelnut, coffee, chocolate, salted caramel, Dulce de leche (sweetened caramelized milk), Christmas Fruit and Spice. Six Bon-Bons in a box. Loved the Bon-Bons. I needed a tiny bite and I felt satisfied. It is a very filling chocolate.
Then came what I am terming as ‘Theatre of Chocolate’ with the Hot Chocolate Grenade. Oh my! A Minimalist Chocolate Grenade (chocolate ball) is brought to the table in a crystal drinking glass. Hot milk is poured over the a ball which contains malted milk and Minimalist Chocolate. There is glitter (edible) in the ball and it melts and then there is this amazing thick hot chocolate with bits of glitter floating in the glass reminiscent of a 50s era milk bar. It is like magic – alchemy of a chocolate ball transmuting into a thick choc drink- like a chocolate soup. I can imagine this developing into a Theatre of Chocolate experience at Truth. [See gallery of photos – the glitter choc ball and the drink, with glitter. See TheCapeRobyn Instagram story footage.] I look forward to sitting at Truth on a cold rainy Cape Town winter night and sipping on a Hot Chocolate Grenade. [In case you don’t know, Truth Coffee has won countless Best Coffee Shop awards. Everything has been put on hold during lockdown, but when things open up, don’t miss this Steampunk coffee artisan roastery.]
Truth Coffee is ethically sourced. Provenance of the beans is known. The same holds for Minimalist which is made from ethically sourced Fair Trade Chocolate from São Tomé in Africa. São Tomé [Portuguese for St Thomas] and Príncipe make up an archipelago on the Central Africa coast: São Tomé, Príncipe and Rolas. [São Tomé is about 260 kilometres from Gabon- about nine hours to fly from Johannesburg to São Tomé]. These islands have become known as The Chocolate Islands on account of its premium chocolate beans- naturally sweet and sans the bitter undertone of other beans. Portuguese navigators settled in São Tomé around 1470. They must have gasped “wow”, when they stumbled on these islands on their journeys of discovery. São Tomé is close to the equator [about 40 kilometres] so the climate is moist and the soil was ideal for the sugar cane that the Portuguese planted. Cocoa trees were planted on Príncipe in 1822 and São Tomé followed after that [Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa, Catherine Higgs]. Donde was intrigued to find out that in the late 15th century, thousands of Jewish children under the age of eight were sent by the Portuguese work the sugar cane plantations. The children were expelled from Portugal, separated from their parents and brought to the islands. There is some contention as to the specific number of Jewish children – and there were others also co-opted as slave labour but it resonated deeply for Donde in terms of his Jewish heritage. Fair Trade has always been core to his coffee business model and with his venture into chocolate, it was important to harness those principles. He wanted to use chocolate beans of African origin and in São Tomé, there was also a history and the opportunity to buy Fair Trade Chocolate.
To add to all this, in the course of my research, I read that South African born entrepreneur, Mark Shuttleworth owns luxury resorts on São Tomé and that The Chocolate Islands are highly rated as surf spots. [https://magicseaweed.com/Sao-Tome-Surfing/313/]. The Minimalist Chocolate journey is layered with many stories. Coffee is not only a beverage but a story. I learned that from David Donde. Now, I have learned about chocolate and São Tomé. In the past, I had not paused to consider the provenance of the chocolate that I was eating. In addition to being free of sweetening and artificial additives, Minimalist Chocolate strikes a chord with me in terms of the origin story in São Tomé.
✳ TheCapeRobyn was hosted by Minimalist Coffee at Truth Coffee. Images in this article © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
✳TheCapeRobyn was hosted by Minimalist Coffee at Truth Coffee. Images in this article © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.