What chocolate do we use?
Our underpinning philosophy at Josophan’s Fine Chocolates focuses on quality without compromise, with the use fresh, natural, local wherever possible and ethically sourced ingredients being paramount.
We choose not to use preservatives, or artificial flavours.
Our fine chocolate ganache fillings are flavoured by infusing fresh cream with ingredients like fresh mint leaves, basil leaves, lime, orange, Tahitian vanilla bean, saffron and locally roasted roasted coffee beans to name a few.
Josophan's fine chocolates with fresh fillings, therefore have a shelf life more like a patisserie product, rather than a long supermarket shelf life product, and are best eaten within 7 days. Should you require a longer shelf life on your fine chocolates, we can make you a selection of our chocolates that have less cream content in the ganache filling, which have a 2-3 week shelf life.
We use fair trade Callebaut Belgian couverture chocolate in the vast majority of our chocolates, and where stated, we use other chocolates that are made from premium beans grown in Single Origins – ranging from Magadascar to Peru. In several of our fine chocolates we also use extraordinary single plantation Michel Cluizel chocolate, manufactured in a boutique manufacturing plant in the Normandy region of France. This direct trade chocolate has an exchange between grower and manufacturer that is entirely transparent, where the manufacturer works directly with the farmer to support the growing and harvesting of the best quality cacao possible. Each of these single plantation chocolates have been made from beans grown in the one plantation, eg. the Mangaro chocolate has been made from beans grown in the Mangaro plantation in Madagascar.
How long will my chocolates last?
A general selection of our individual chocolates with fresh ganache filling will last for 7 days from purchase. This is due to the high content of fresh cream, natural flavours, and no nasty artificial preservatives.
If you require a longer shelf life on your chocolates with ganache fillings, just let us know, and we'll put together a collection of our chocolates that have less cream content in the ganache centres, but are equally delicious!
All of our chocolate blocks, figurines, slabs etc, have a much longer shelf life, as they don't contain the fresh ingredients like cream and butter, that is found in the chocolates with fillings. A 'best before' sticker will be on the product, which will typically be many months.
How do I store my chocolates?
Unless your house is especially hot, do not store your chocolates in the refrigerator! The refrigerator is especially moist, and condensation will effect the condition of your chocolate, leading to sugar 'bloom', causing a grainy texture and white finish on the surface of the chocolate. It will also make the whole eating sensation less pleasurable, as the chocolate will take much longer to melt in your mouth. But hey, if you love your chocolate from the fridge, who are we to tell you what to do?!
Chocolate also absorbs aromas very easily, and will take on strong aromas such as garlic and onion, if stored next to these kind of items. Yuk!
The ideal condition to store your chocolate is in an air tight container, that has minimal smell (watch our for plastic containers giving off a smell), in a cool, dark place (bottom of a pantry is ideal), and kept under 20degC. (16-18 deg C is ideal).
How should I eat my chocolate to get the maximum taste pleasure?
Use all of your senses.
Look at the chocolate - to ensure it has been kept in ideal conditions (shiny appearance on the side of chocolate that has been moulded, with no white 'fat bloom' on the surface - which is the cocoa butter content moving around as it is no longer in a 'tempered' state, due to incorrect storage temperature.
Listen to the chocolate - No this isn't listening to the chocolate saying "Eat me, Eat me"!. Break your chocolate and listen for a clear 'snap', indicating the chocolate is in a good tempered state, and cocoa butter is stable.
Smell the chocolate - it is argued the aroma of chocolate is of even more importance than your taste buds! The complexity of aroma, particularly with a high grade dark chocolate, will often be what sets the tasting experience apart from a lesser quality, non aromatic chocolate.
Feel the chocolate - as it melts in your mouth. A good quality chocolate should be smooth, not gritty, and should melt in your mouth. Don't chew it up! Let it melt (cocoa butter will melt at your body's temperature), and as it melts, the aroma will change and enhance the overall taste experience. If you chew it up and swallow it, you never even gave the chocolate the opportunity to release its more complex aromas.
Taste the chocolate - as it melts and releases aroma, the chocolate taste sensation may change from the first taste when it starts to melt - the 'top note' - through to the 'mid note' - and finally the 'end note'. It's about finding a chocolate you love through the whole taste journey!
What is cocoa butter?
Couverture chocolate contains loads of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter melts at our body temperature, and is responsible for that 'melt-in-the-mouth' sensation when you have a beautiful chocolate. Couverture chocolate is very fluid when melted, hence the name couverture, which means 'coating or covering' in French, as it's fluidity makes it ideal for this purpose. The ingredients of a couverture chocolate should inlcude cocoa/cacao mass or liquor (made from ground up cacao beans (nibs) without the shell), extra cocoa butter, sugar, sometimes vanilla (make sure it's not vanillan, as this is an artificial vanilla and a very good indication the chocolate is not of a high grade), and sometimes an emulsifier to hold all the fats together, like soy lecithin in very small quantities. Milk chocolate will also contain milk in the ingredients. High grade white chocolate, which is pretty much sugar and fat (which is why it tastes so good to so many people!) only contains cocoa butter and not the mass/liquor component of the cacao bean. Check the labels on your white chocolate, if it doesn't contain cocoa butter, but uses another fat, there is nothing in the product from the cacao tree, and no, it's not a chocolate product! It's basically a chocolate flavoured confectionery.
Compound or 'cooking' chocolate does not contain cocoa butter (this is sold off to other industries such as the pharmacutical or cosmetic industries), and the fat is replaced with hydrogenated vegetable fats like PALM OIL. This may be described simply as 'vegetable oil' on the ingredients label. Palm oil does not melt at our body temperature, and when chewed up to digest (as opposed to cocoa butter melting in your mouth), often leaves a 'waxy' film and texture in your mouth. Palm oil is a trans fat, and is very unhealthy. Because of the higher melting point, some argue compound chocolate is better in cooking, as it keeps its shape. Quite frankly, I'd be very concerned if a chocolate chip in a cookie still held it's shape after spending time in a 200 deg oven. Jodie's advice - go couverture all the way!
Who is Josophan?
The founder and owner of Josophan's Fine Chocolates is Jodie Van Der Velden. Josophan is an amalgam of Jodie's name, and her two daughters Hannah and Sophie. JOdie, SOPhie and HANnah! Josophans Fine Chocolates is a wholly Australian owned and family run company.
Jodie was committed to bringing luxury, fresh, ethically traded and locally handcrafted fine chocolates to the Blue Mountains.
Josophan's opened the door of the first store in Leura mall (now Cafe Madeleine - and still owned by Josophan's) on Easter Saturday, late March 2005.
Jodie entered the Sydney Royal Chocolate competition soon after, and won overall Champion Chocolate Exhibit. The Sydney Royal is a commercial competition, and was a great professional acknowledgement that what Josophan's was bringing to the industry was special. Fresh chocolates with a short shelf life were not common in commercial chocolate industry.
Jodie entered the Sydney Royal three times, taking a swag of medals and overall Champion Exhibit twice. Rather than continue entering, Jodie wanted to contribute to the industry, encouraging excellence and helping raise the standard of quality in the industry overall. Jodie began training as a judge, and is now the Chair of Judges of the Sydney Royal Chocolate Competition - and has helped sculpt the competition into the contemporary competition it is today, with a student category, sponsorship and rewards for winners that include trips to overseas chocolate training academies, encouraging innovation and excellence.
Jodie has won several Salon Culinaire medals for dessert making, and won the Callebaut Australia Chocolate Dessert Competition in 2009, winning training in a brand new chocolate academy in Chicago in 2010 to study chocolate sculpting and plated desserts for fine dining. She travels to France and Belgium regularly, visiting the Salon du Chocolat Professional bi annually, and visits cacao plantations around the world, from Central America and the Caribbean to Africa - to get to the source and understand the impact of good farming and harvesting practices, including ethical treatment of farmers and workers, on the final raw product.
Whilst Jodie leads the way for Josophan's, a team of committed and highly skilled chocolatiers handcrafts chocolates day to day in the Leura production laboratory, which can be viewed from the Leura boutique.