A Trip to Perugia to Attend Eurochocolate 2021
We all want to be happy: happiness is the deepest and most pleasant emotion for the human being, but there is no time or road that leads us to it. Happiness it is not an objective, but the road itself–the existence in the world of something that makes us happy. My road took me to EuroChocolate in Perugia, where I actually found – and in great abundance – something that makes us truly happy: chocolate!
A joy to eat, an extension of feelings which generates in us the so-called “love hormones”. The history of chocolate starts from afar, in North America, where the cocoa tree grows spontaneously, more than 4000 years ago. Cocoa beans were used as a currency as well as an energizing food by Mayas and Aztecs. Cocoa arrived in Europe thanks to the colonize, Hernàn Cortèz. Over the years, it has passed from monasteries to the first chocolate factories to finally, reach us in an endless range of shapes and combinations: ready to delight every kind of palate. Eurochocolate takes place every year in October. It is an international event that attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world: the Eurochocolate.
History of Eurochocolate
It is a real chocolate festival born from architect Eugenio Guarducci ‘s vision. While visiting the Oktoberfest in Munich, he dreamed of a great event for his city dedicated not to beer, but to chocolate. Perugia is in fact a city with a great chocolate tradition. It is also home to the historical chocolate factory Perugina: producer of the Baci Perugina, the famous chocolates containing small love notes.
Today, Guarducci is the president of this great International Festival. Eurochocolate has become an unmissable event for cocoa producers and for gourmets from all over the world. This year, for security reasons, the event moved from the historic center of Perugia to the Umbriafiere exhibition center. It’s in nearby Bastia, a strategic point between Perugia and Assisi–two of Umbria’s major touristic cities. A special indoor edition is anticipated for the return to the Umbrian capital that will hopefully happen next year (with even a double edition).
My visit, nevertheless, was immediately exciting. To see families, couples and groups of friends wandering serenely and orderly in the middle of this huge chocolate market was already worth the price of the ticket in itself. The price, by the way, is really ridiculous considering the multitude of entertainment, itinerant routes, games and tastings present. My entrance was immediately accompanied by delicious gifts and the warm welcome of Willy Wonka and his mascots.
The air is festive and smells of cocoa, the atmosphere is that of a fairy-tale and is guarded by the imposing Statue of Montezuma: the famous Aztec ruler and great consumer of chocolate. It is hard not to get carried away by the atmosphere and by the thousands of products ranging from simple chocolates with gaudy wrappers to liqueurs and pasta. All are strictly made of chocolate, present in every form and variety. The spell is not broken even by participating in the rich program of workshops and cooking shows. Each was conducted by experts and historical names in Italian and international pastry making including: Iginio Massari, who opened the dances; and Ernst Knam who I was lucky enough to see at work and enjoy his creations.
The art of pastry making combined with the oratory of these masters was an engaging and formative experience for an enthusiast like me. And, of course, a great sensorial pleasure too. I left in the late afternoon with two bags full of chocolate, a smile on my face, and the conviction that there are only two solutions to heartaches and sadness: time and chocolate. Since it’s hard to wait for happiness to come, it is better to go and meet it halfway. I believe that Eurochocolate is on the right road that can make us happy and ‘fondenti’.*
A play on words (in Italian) that combines the words ‘contenti’ (content) and ‘fondenti’ (fondant, referring to chocolate).
“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”Aristotle
Here is my recipe inspired by a visit to EuroChocolate:
Torta al cacao, Rocher, riccioli di cremino, mousse al bacio
(Cocoa and Rocher cake, Cremino curls, Bacio mousse)
For this cake I was freely inspired by this weekend in Perugia and by some of the most famous Italian chocolates that have a curious history. Rocher, for example, was dedicated by Ferrero to the Madonna of Lourdes. Its name and shape are in fact, inspired by Roc De Massabielle–the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette.
Cremino and Bacio
The Cremino was invented by Ferdinando Baratti and his partner Edoardo Milano and it owes its popularity to the famous car manufacturer FIAT from Turin. In 1911, FIAT launched a competition among the chocolatiers of Italy to create a new chocolate designed for advertising purposes. This chocolate was to be reserved exclusively for the presentation of the new Fiat model Tipo 4: a luxury car built from 1910 to 1918.
Finally, it seems the Bacio (kiss) was the result of Luisa Spagnoli’s idea to mix in the hazelnut fragments which were thrown away during the production of sweets. The result was a strange chocolate with an irregular shape, like that of a closed fist where the most protruding knuckle was represented by a whole hazelnut. For this reason it was initially called “Cazzotto” (punch). There are so many stories around these popular chocolates that it was worth telling them with a cake which enclosed them and represented our chocolatiers’ excellence.
For the Cremino
- 300 g milk chocolate
- 150 g white chocolate
- 120 g hazelnut paste
- Melt the milk chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Once melted, turn off the flame, add 80 grams of hazelnut paste and stir well
- Now pour the mixture into rectangular molds, filling them only 1/3 of their capacity.
- Place the molds in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Now melt the white chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan.
- Once melted, turn off the flame and add 40 grams of hazelnut paste and mix until the mixture is uniform.
- At this point, you must pour the mixture in the molds filling them up to 2/3 as a second layer of chocolate.
- Put the molds back in the freezer for another 15 minutes.
- Finally, take the molds and cover them with the remaining melted milk chocolate.
- Put them in the freezer for about 1 hour.
- After the cooling time, let them rest for half an hour at room temperature. Then remove them from the molds.
For the Kiss Mousse
- 400 ml fresh cream
- 200 g of dark chocolate
- 80 g of chopped hazelnuts
- The ideal temperature of melted chocolate is between 45 and 50°C.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie checking that it is within this temperature range.
- In the meantime, work the cream until it becomes semi-whipped, that is semi-liquid. In this way, by continuing to stir the cream when you add the melted chocolate at 50°C, it will finish whipping and you will obtain a frothy mixture.
- Add the chopped hazelnuts and set aside in the refrigerator.
For the Rocher
- 150 g Milk chocolate
- 80 g hazelnuts
- Melt half of the chocolate in a bain-marie.
- In the meantime toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 180 ° C for a few minutes
- Pour the melted chocolate into hemispherical molds, letting the excess drip off
- Place the molds in the freezer for 1 hour
- After this time, melt the other half of the chocolate
- Chop the toasted hazelnuts and add them to the chocolate
- Remove the chocolate hemispheres from the molds and put them on the back of the mold
- Take the chocolate with the sprinkles, which should be warm, and brush the hemispheres until achieving an even coating
- Place back in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
For the Cocoa Cake
- 200 gr of flour 00
- 50 gr of bitter cocoa
- 200 gr of sugar
- 200 ml of milk
- 2 eggs
- 100 ml of seed oil
- 1 sachet of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Combine the milk, seed oil, eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl and work quickly with a hand whisk
- Add all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sifted cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt and mix quickly by hand.
- Pour the mixture into a mold of 22-24 cm in diameter buttered or lined with parchment paper
- Bake the cake in a preheated oven at 180 ° C 30-35 minutes
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, before unmolding.
- Cut a slice of cake and rest it on the side of the plate.
- Cut the cremino with a potato peeler to form curls with which you will decorate the cake.
- Place in the center two rocher hemispheres
- Fill them with the kiss mousse and decorate with chocolate chips and hazelnuts.