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1,200 to 1,500 truffles being produced weekly - Times of Malta feature

Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 08:49 by Denise Grech

The shop, which was opened four months ago, has seen an increase in requests as the festive season approaches.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, owner and manager Neil Hitchcock said foreign customers looked for the familiar taste of chocolate, while locals looked for quality.

The shop is experimenting with incorporating traditional Maltese flavours into chocolate. Next year, it plans to flavour its chocolate truffles with Maltese fig, honey, and prickly pear.

Mr Hitchcock added that the shop’s pastry chefs had made thousands truffles in the past two weeks because of the Christmas rush.

Head chef David Pulis said the process of chocolate making has become more efficient, since machines have made tempering chocolate easier. However, Mr Pulis prefers tempering the chocolate – a process that results in a smooth, glossy and evenly coloured chocolate coating – manually.

The process involves heating the raw, bitter chocolate and then cooling it on a marble surface while constantly stirring it with a palette knife.

The shop also offers tours about the history of chocolate, depicting how it moved from Meso-America to the West.

The Aztecs, Mr Hitchcock said, believed cocoa beans to be gifts from the god of wisdom. These beans were so central to their culture that they were once used as a form of currency.

Hot cocoa, the liquid made from the beans, became known to Westerners in the 1500s, when Christopher Columbus introduced the cocoa bean to Spain. The rest, as they say, is sweet history.

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