France and Switzerland compete for 'fourth' type of chocolate

A fourth type of chocolate - " blonde" - is slowly making inroads into French confectionery, according to France, but has failed to gain official recognition and faces competition from the "pink" Swiss variety, AFP reports.

"Blonde" chocolate was born by accident.

French pastry chef Frederic Bau was demonstrating his skills at an exhibition in Japan and let his white chocolate warm up for too long in the cooking chamber... four days, to be exact.

"Accidentally, as if by magic... he turned blond! This chocolate emerged with an amazing color and smell," recalls Bau, who is the creative director of chocolatier Valrhona.

Bau immediately sensed the commercial potential of this "happy mistake," but it took seven years of testing to perfect its unique flavor qualities and texture.

The recipe remains a secret but has been officially registered by Valrhona and since 2012 has been sold under the name Dulcey.

The basic chemistry, however, is well known. It is the 'Maillard reaction', a series of chemical reactions between amino acids and reducing sugars that produce browning and flavors akin to toasting.

To taste, blonde chocolate has the milk fattiness of white chocolate but is much less sweet, with a mild caramel taste and an aftertaste of roasted coffee.

'It is very different from other chocolates. It imparts a very biscuity, very pleasant taste," says Nice-based confectioner Philippe Tayac, who combines it with hazelnuts for tartlets.

Bau combines it as a pure fondant dessert with freshly baked apples and Tahitian vanilla cream, and also recommends "breaking it up" with more expressive fruit combinations, such as citrus or red fruits.

Despite efforts, Valrhona has been unable to convince French legislators to reinstate its legal definitions.

So blonde chocolate remains officially just another type of white chocolate, which is the last one legally recognized - after dark and milk chocolate - after its invention in the 1930s by the Swiss company Nestle.

And France's Alpine neighbors are not waiting to be overtaken in the search for a fourth variety.

Valrhona's main competitor in the world of professional chocolate, Swiss giant Barry Callebaut, launched a marketing campaign in 2017 for its own fourth variety: bright pink and derived from Ruby cocoa beans grown in Ecuador, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast.

Barry Callebaut calls its Ruby chocolate "the biggest innovation in chocolate in 80 years".

"The best chocolate in the world is the one that gives you a moment of pleasure - no matter where it is produced or what color it is," the company said. / BGNES