Nuts and chocolate- yes, tried and tested..
Raisins and chocolate- yes, that has also been tried and tested
Cranberry and chocolate- well, ummm errr.. Sounds interesting, but do the flavours match? 

This was the question that popped in my head when Nitin Chordia mentioned the event that was in collaboration with US Cranberries. Having known and interacted with him for a few years, I knew now that it was going to be an interesting & insightful afternoon. So I headed to Cocoashala, their outfit in Gopalapuram curious to taste, see and experience the combination! 

But then it turned out to be quite an eye opener with ref to Cranberries. I have eaten the berries and tasted the sauce that my Uncle makes, but that was it! The juices we get here are quite sweet, and I know the fruit is quite tart and sour as well [ almost like a cherry]. 

That evening I was introduced to the dried cranberries, frozen fresh cranberries [ these are frozen berries that have been thawed] and cranberry juice [Ocean spray, that contained 27% cranberry juice as against others that had 4-5% only] 

It was a delight to experience the flavours of the fruit and see it being used across various dishes. There was Cranberry salsa and Cranberry thokku- both of which I loved… a good way to include the berry in our meal.. 






Drum roll please…. Time for the session on Cranberries and Chocolates. His wife/partner in crime Poonam Chordia [India’s 1st certified female chocolate taster] took over the reigns and showed us three dishes made using Cranberries & Chocolate.  The first two was made using dark chocolate, which also happens to be vegan [ no dairy included] and the last one was with white chocolate [ which contains milk in it, substitute would be condensed milk ]



Cranberry dark chocolate Mousse


Having watched enough of Masterchef and Heston’s shows, I knew the various methods of making mousse. One of them was chocolate and water, and a few years ago during a Magnum ice cream launched we witnessed Janice Wong make a similar mousse.  And so I knew it was possible, but today was seeing the same thing being made with cranberry juice instead of water. Pure cranberry juice [ no additives, no added sugar] was heated, and poured over the dark chocolate chips.. It was allowed to sit for a few minutes before being whisked over a ice bath. And voila, the mousse took shape right in front of our eyes, it was creamy & smooth and within minutes was beginning to dry out…  

I sprinkled a tiny bit of salt over it and must say it tasted yummilicious!! The tartness of the berry, the bitter dark chocolate and the salt was a match made in heaven… Few years back a friend was the one who showed me how salt enhances the taste of any chocolate based dessert, and since then I always add a tiny pinch of salt to chocolate based desserts/drinks… 







Cranberry dark chocolate ganache that was turned into truffles

Similar to the mousse, the ganache was also made by heating the liquid [ cranberry juice] and pouring it over the dark chocolate. Only difference being, after it was mixed in, a cling wrap was added [making sure it touched the surface of the chocolate] and left in fridge to set for a while … 

The mixture was then scooped up, rolled and coated with pistachio powder to form truffles… They melt in your mouth- literally, actually they start melting while you pick em up and pop em in your mouth…







Cranberry white chocolate payasam


Being a South indian, we make quite a range of payasams and so I was eager to experience cranberry in a payasam. This one was made with vermicelli, white chocolate [ which was the only element with sweetness in it], some water, coconut milk, and cranberry juice..  Allowed to simmer for a while , the final product was thick and delicious with the tartness of the cranberry ensuring it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet.. 


                                                   


Well, after that session in chocolate and cranberry, we continued to chit chat about chocolates, food and so much more.. Neelima Sriram & her husband shared insights on their life, change in lifestyle since they moved to Vegan & whole foods… It was overall a fun afternoon indeed..  Must add, my love for the berry has gone up a notch and I can’t wait to try my hands on these dishes… Maybe even experiment further~! If only I could find someone who would send me a box of them berries periodically 😀 


Stay tuned to Cocoashala’s facebook page for updates on upcoming events/workshops….