According to healthline.com, there are seven proven benefits of dark chocolate. Besides the fact that it is very nutritious, it is also a powerful source of antioxidants, it may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, it raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation, it may reduce your risk of heart disease, it could improve brain function and it could even protect your skin from the sun. No wonder we’re so fond of chocolate!
South Africa has some really impressive talent when it comes to making chocolate, but also when it comes to making things with chocolate.
Chocolate factory owner, Kees Beyers, knew at the age of seven that he would one day be in the chocolate business. Between the ages of 12 and 17, he had already qualified as a pastry chef. When he was 18, he travelled to South Africa with the idea of working here for a few months and then returning to Belgium, but he fell in love with the country as quickly as he had with chocolate and the rest is history. Today, Kees is a Master Chocolatier and through Beyers Chocolates, he combines Belgian traditions with South African inspiration. They often team up with local brands like Amarula to bring South Africans some of the most unique and delicious treats like their Amarula Dark Chocolate and Amarula Fudge. They also have gift boxes like their Truffle Collections and their beautifully packaged slabs and animal droppings of different flavours are popular gifts. Oh, and of course their Craft Gin Truffles – deliciously fruity and surprisingly naughty gin-flavoured milk chocolate truffles – are a must-try! www.beyerschocolates.com
Stephanie and Christelle, the owners of Jack Rabbit Chocolate Studio at Waterkloof Heights, have their mother’s baking to thank for where they are today. Stephanie went from breaking eggs into mud (to her mother’s frustration) to a professional chocolatier who creates luxurious artisanal chocolates and confections. Her sister, Christelle, is a chocolate snob who assesses chocolates and she also plays the role of shop assistant. Jack Rabbit has won gold in the European Open Category of the International Chocolate Awards, as well as silver in the world finals of the International Chocolate Awards hosted in London. Their chocolates are unique and really pretty, with different collections that people can buy from the shop or online. Even their chocolate bars are almost too beautiful to eat! Their Artist Collection box of 24 is a stunning gift, consisting of the chef’s selection of 24 chocolates, available from the weekly variety of flavours. www.jackrabbitchocolate.co.za
This handmade chocolate studio is located in Cullinan, which is not too far out from Pretoria and definitely worth the visit. Kirsten Walters’ chocolates are all preservative free and her chocolate studio is open to the public for gift shopping and tours. After receiving the Valedictorian Award for the best student from the International School of Chocolate Arts, she opened up shop in Cape Town, which was followed by five more stores across the country within a timeframe of three years. With the birth of her twin sons, she took a break from it all, only to have them ask why she stopped making chocolates! So, she has set up a new chocolate studio from where she once again makes chocolates by hand by applying traditional Swiss techniques. @iledechoc
The 26-year-old owner of Le Kreamery in Eldoraigne, Riyadh Cassim and his wife Raeesa, started the franchise four years ago. You might be misled by the name but the menu doesn’t just offer good coffee and baked items and it’s also not necessarily your typical coffee shop. It’s an innovative Halaal eatery and dessert lounge catering to the large Indian community in Centurion, and is also a really refreshing experience for anyone who wants to try something different. The menu is full of surprises, with desserts and other dishes from all over the world. It is, however, the chocolate themed, specialised desserts that will catch your attention. From Cornflake and Nutella French Toast to Texan Cookie and Brownie Fries, S’mores that are available in Lindor or Nutella and a Fried Oreo and Churro Platter with a variety of chocolates. In this menu, everything’s got a twist to it and that’s what we love about this place – its desserts are unpredictable, delicious and creative. @lekreamery
Anything that’s chocolate flavoured is fine by us. WhiskAway Ice Cream and Sorbet takes flavouring ice cream one step further and makes banting, diabetic, lactose-free and vegan ice cream in a variety of flavours including chocolate. They also have ice cream for people with allergies and if you don’t like the usual sugars, they even make an ice cream that is sweetened with honey. They are located at Waterkloof Heights and often offer creative classes in collaboration with Jack Rabbit like the recent Chocolate and Ice Cream Sandwich Class. They also host Ice Cream Socials, so be sure to follow them online to stay posted on when it takes place again. @WhiskAwayIC
Whether it comes in a bar, a cup or an ice cream cone, chocolate has a way of making things better.
Image credit: The Food Photographer; Renata Jacobs Photography