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article imagePerfecting the art of pairing wine and chocolate Special

By Katie Ryalen     Mar 5, 2014 in Food
Master chocolatier Sandra Abballe makes it her mission to educate clients on the process of creating artisan chocolate, and takes the pairing of wine and chocolate to the next level.
With mass-market chocolate bars available on every convenience store shelf, it’s not hard to see why artisan chocolate making is a lesser-known craft. The truth of the matter, though, is that artisan chocolatiers train for years to learn this skill, and spend a career perfecting it.
Chef Sandra Abballe knows the rigours of this art form. As a trained French pastry chef, and owner of Succulent Chocolates and Sweets in Vaughan, Ontario, it has taken her years to develop her palate to detect different flavour profiles and understand how they work in conjunction with each other.
Her dedication has won her one of the highest honours in chocolate making. In January, 2013 she competed in the Canadian pre-selections of the World Chocolate Masters, and was awarded first place in the category of Canada’s Best Molded Bon-Bon with her creation entitled “The Crunchy Apple.”
With Succulent Chocolates and Sweets, Abballe’s aim is not just to create quality, award-winning chocolates, however. “The mission of Succulent Chocolates is to create a chocolate experience for our clients,” she explains. “I am looking beyond simply selling chocolates; my goal is to educate clients about chocolate, where it comes from, how it is manufactured and then transformed into artisan chocolates.”
Expanding on her offerings, Chef Abballe has partnered with Magnotta Winery to develop a signature experience for her clients: wine and chocolate pairing. An award winning winery and distillery in Vaughan, Magnotta has more than 180 VQA and International Series wines, and is the third largest winery in Ontario.
 The Crunchy Apple   Canada s Best Bon-Bon at the World Chocolate Masters Canada 2013
"The Crunchy Apple", Canada's Best Bon-Bon at the World Chocolate Masters Canada 2013
Sandra Abballe, Succulent Chocolates and Sweets
Why do wine and chocolate go so well together? According to Chef Abballe, the flavour profile of the cacao bean, just like the wine grape, is affected by the climate, soils and conditions of where it is grown.
She adds, “Chocolate and wine pairing is a great way for clients to learn about origin chocolates [where the cacao beans are grown in one specific country] and grasp the depth of what that means, as it is so similar to the wine industry ... I enjoy combining savoury flavours into my chocolates as it helps break down people's barriers of chocolate beyond the traditional candy bar.”
Providing experiences to consumers, rather than just a take-home product, is a growing trend in today’s leisure and recreation industry. Divya Sabharwal, Media and Marketing Coordinator at YorkScene, has been working with Chef Abballe to provide a prize package for their culinary cuisine contest.
“The experience that a company like Succulent Chocolates brings is immeasurable,” she says. “By creating partnerships with local business owners, you not only reach fans from two individual circles but you get to cross promote — a wine and chocolate pairing can be seen as a girls night out, add a hotel stay and a trip to the spa and you’ve got yourself a weekend staycation.”
The partnership between Magnotta Winery and Succulent Chocolates has been a successful one so far. Abballe says, “I enjoy working with Magnotta as they have been a landmark in Vaughan for decades. They have proven the quality of their wines with countless awards and accolades; however, they remain focused on sharing their passion and knowledge for wine with their clients.”
The horizons are bright for Succulent Chocolates and Sweets. Abballe has a full line of hand painted bon-bons and confections available for sale online. She is also hosting chocolate workshops at The Chocolate Lab in Vaughan, and for private parties.
More about Chocolate, Wine, artisan chocolate, Succulent Chocolates, magnotta
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