While Orange and the surrounding region has long been famous for its produce, we are also blessed with a community of artisans who transform raw ingredients into magnificent hand-crafted goods.
Among the best of them is Matt Chimenti, who owns and operates Origin Chocolate Makers in Orange.
For six years now Origin Chocolate has been ethically sourcing cacao beans from exotic locations spanning the globe.
Searching every corner of the world for the finest cacao beans is essential as Chimenti finds "every different region you go to, at every different origin, the flavour of the beans is different, which then flows on to the chocolate."
Africa, Latin America and Papua New Guinea are all major producers, with a current favourite bean sourced from Cusco, Peru.
Being free of dairy, soy and gluten, dark chocolate is rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds that can ease blood pressure and may improve brain function.Richard Learmonth
The effects of an origin's localised varieties and growing conditions is very much like the concept of 'terroir' - a French term used to describe environmental factors that impact crop's characteristics - that is well understood in our wine community.
Likewise, the flavours and aromas of different beans can range from spicy and fruity notes, rich caramels, to earthy and savoury characteristics.
Besides the exotic flavours which have made chocolate a worldwide favourite, there is also an extensive list of health benefits.
Being free of dairy, soy and gluten, dark chocolate is rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds that can ease blood pressure and may improve brain function.
Origin Chocolate is a 'bean-to-bar' producer of organic and fair trade ingredients and the handcrafted process ensures that the customer is getting nothing but the real thing.
Chimenti is able to draw on his past experience as a baker and pastry chef to transform the raw ingredients into a sensational final product.
The beans that arrive in Orange are sorted and graded for size and quality.
Then they are roasted to create those rich caramelised flavours that make chocolate so moreish.
From there they are moved to a conche refiner, a powerful machine which grinds and refines the beans.
Everything from the fibrous husks to the oil-rich nibs inside are ground to a smooth liquid free of grit and aerated to remove unwanted acids and other compounds.
The liquid chocolate is then tempered to achieve the best crystalline structure before finally moving to a depositing line where it is set in the form of buttons or bars.
Origin Chocolate supplies Australia-wide to other manufacturers and retailers.
Orange-based chocolate lovers can find Origin chocolate at Scoop Wholefoods, Harris Farm Markets, online or at the Orange Farmers Market.
With production having grown to around eight to 10 tons a year, Chimenti is looking to expand with development beginning at a new space, four times the current size, at Narrambla Estate.
Plans for the new chocolate factory will include a retail space and a cafe featuring baked goods including Origin Chocolate.
Recipe of the week
Flourless Chocolate Fondant Pudding
150g butter, plus extra for greasing
150g 70% dark chocolate
4Tb cocoa powder
4Tb almond meal
75g brown sugar
3 x large eggs
3 x egg yolks
- Brush melted butter inside four dariole moulds. Refrigerate and brush with melted butter again. Dust with cocoa, turning the moulds to ensure the moulds are well coated.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently to combine well into a dark silky liquid and set aside to cool a little.
- Beat the egg, egg yolk and sugar together in a stand mixer fitter with a paddle attachment until thick and fluffy.
- Fold in the almond meal an then the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the mixture between the prepared moulds and refrigerate before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 200 celsius and place a baking tray inside.
- Place the fondants on top of the hot tray and bake for nine to 12 minutes. Leave for one minute before carefully turning out into a bowl.
- Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or soft whipped cream
- Richard Learmonth is an experienced chef who will be contributing a food column with the Central Western Daily every fortnight.
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