Eliminating the noise – Canadian chocolate legend Thomas Haas

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When we met Thomas Haas in person, he was warm and welcoming. His chocolate shop is a thoughtfully designed space where you can feel comfy and at home. When chatting with him, we discussed how important it is to be yourself and never waste time comparing yourself to other people.

 

 

Being authentic is one of Thomas’ secrets to success. It is interesting that this attitude is extended into how he works with chocolate. We are delighted to feature some of Thomas’ delicacies in our chocolate gifts and we are fascinated by how and why these chocolates are so delicious. The following is a review that dives into the details of Thomas Haas treats – thoughtfully prepared by local chef and writer Charles Macurdy.

 

Thomas Haas practices a very direct approach to chocolate.

 

Consider his dark chocolate bark. It is simply a disc of 79% cocoa dark chocolate, studded with dried fruit and a few nuts. That cocoa mass is substantial enough that you have a very rich dark chocolate, but not enough that it throws the whole thing out of balance.

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The orange rind and dried cranberries play off the bitterness in the chocolate, but also emphasize some light, fruity notes which might otherwise go unnoticed. Meanwhile, a few blanched almonds and slivered pistachios help to draw out the more earthy tones. So, at first blush, it might appear a bit simple. But it becomes a more and more elegant presentation of chocolate’s true character the more you eat it. When you have a perfectly handled piece of chocolate like this, all you need is a little something to help the chocolate speak for itself.

 

Letting chocolate speak for itself

 

His hazelnut crisp shows you another look entirely. Here, you have a small bite of exceptionally smooth milk chocolate paired with a big hazelnut flavour. Again, it is a very familiar combination. Anyone who has ever tasted Nutella will understand it immediately. Except that here, the hazelnut is in a crispy praline, so there is a delicate crunch when you bite into it.

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The creamy texture of the milk chocolate wraps around the crispy praline and the flavours of hazelnut and chocolate pair with a light caramel flavoured backdrop. Suddenly, a familiar thing has become a subtle surprise.

chocolate gift baskets

And what this all illustrates is the way that a skilled hand can manage chocolate without feeling the need to make it complicated. You can almost hear him saying “I don’t have to wow you. The chocolate will take care of that.”

 

Flavours as a counterpoint

 

His focus is on more familiar pairings, presented in with a delicate and refined touch. Of course, there are still a few surprises, like ginger, cardamom, thyme, and even matcha green tea. But they all seem to make sense.

 

Consider the chai bark. It is basically the same thing as the dark chocolate bark, except that the base is a spice infused milk chocolate. And as you eat it, within the smoothness of the chocolate, the spices of chai present themselves. So as you taste the cardamom and cinnamon, you get an almond or a cranberry and, just like with the dark bark, they round out and counterpoint the other flavours.

 

But as you taste the spices, the chocolate, the fruit, and the nuts together, you start to realize that this is not only the flavour of chai, but the whole thing together starts to take on the character of fruit cake. And once you notice it, you start to see how much sense it makes. Almost like the comparison was always obvious. Simple things, executed with restraint and skill, can make for truly novel surprises.