Thursday 4 June 2020

A Delivery of Very Fancy Handmade Chocolates: Arcane Chocolate


Many of us may be improving our cooking and baking skills during the pandemic but let's face it, some things just aren't replicable by home cooks as they require technical skills and a huge amount of knowledge. That's why I've ordered pastries from Le Pâtissier and chocolates from Arcane Chocolate over the last few weeks. These are products that are made by skilled artisans and make you feel like you're really getting something special.

Arcane Chocolate was founded in late 2019 by Belgian master chocolatier and pastry chef Erik Van der Veken. Erik trained in culinary school back home and pretty much knew at the age of 14 that making pastries and chocolate for a living was his vocation. His career so far has brought him to work as a chocolatier for the Café Royal in London, design chocolates for the two Michelin-starred restaurant 'The Greenhouse' in London and helping to open a chocolate café in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Erik moved to Ireland a couple of years ago and became the pastry and chocolate advisor at Redmond Fine Foods (where I happen to have worked with him). One thing is sure, chocolate is his passion. As a former colleague, I've seen him creating chocolate masterpieces, exquisite chocolate bonbons and generously sharing his knowledge with fellow pastry chefs during his masterclasses. One of the perks was to sometimes taste his chocolates, nothing like I've ever tasted in Ireland, but reminiscent of what I used to get in Paris.

As well as doing consultancy work Erik has been selling his chocolates to luxurious hotels until the lockdown happened. Now the good news is that the general public can also order through his online shop. At the moment there is a standard selection of chocolates available in a box of 4, 9 or 16 pieces (€7.50-€21), a box of the 'Forbidden Love' selection (9 pieces for €15), 3 different types of chocolate bars and a discovery pack of the chocolate tablets (€12.50). 


I purchased the standard selection of 9 chocolates (€15) which features a good diversity of flavours. Erik's chocolates have the most perfect gloss, so much that you can clearly see your reflection on them. The pretty colours and patterns of some of the bonbons make you almost feel guilty for eating these little chocolate jewels. That feeling doesn't last long though, as soon as you bite into them, you get a gustatory kick in your mouth. The exotique bonbon with its passion fruit caramel, a hint of Tahitian vanilla and its mango and ginger ganache does that to you. The salted caramel chocolates are outstanding and the "müre" chocolate with its blackberry caramel is a delight. 

I'm not going to detail the full content of the box, all I can say is that they are top drawer. The chocolate tablets didn't last long in our house (even though I warned Mr FFID not to eat them the way he would scoff down a bar of Cadbury's). The 38% milk chocolate crunch tablet is like a fancy version of a Crunch bar with little pieces of crispy wafer in it, I may have been reluctant to share it. The blonde chocolate bar made with caramelised white chocolate encrusted with roasted caramelised cacao nibs was moreish. The 75% single origin Tanzanie tablet is a good one for dark chocolate lovers and if you're looking for something a bit more classic. 

Erik kindly gifted me a box of the Forbidden Love collection, which was inspired by his own love story with his now-fiancée from Saudi Arabia for which he moved to Ireland (you can read about their forbidden love in this article from the Irish Times). In this range, each piece includes at least one ingredient known for its aphrodisiac properties. A sexy and delicious selection that is meant to be shared with whoever tickles your fancy.

Until now Arcane Chocolate has been a one-man operation with Erik doing everything, from production, packaging to the delivery within Co. Dublin (€10 charge) on Thursdays and Fridays. However, the growing demand for Erik's chocolates requires him to spend more time in the kitchen hence deliveries from now on will be done via An Post with parcels being sent out nationwide every Tuesday and Thursday incurring a €9 charge.

There's nothing chocolate can't fix, so if you need a little bit of indulgence in your life, or want to surprise someone you care about with some of the best chocolates you can find in the country right now, you know what to do.

Arcane Chocolate's online shop:
Arcan Chocolate on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram