18th century, Paris: Chocolate wasn’t always considered an after-dinner treat. When it first arrived in France from Latin America, the French weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Parisian doctors soon declared that chocolate has therapeutic properties and thereafter, the number of confectioners in Paris mushroomed by the dozen.
21st century, Mumbai: We smell an uncanny analogy here. There has been a spurt in the number of chocolatiers and pastry chefs operating in the city- either by establishing their own cafes or retailing online. And they aren’t just restricted to blue-blooded Bandra or the crest of Colaba. Plus, Mumbaikars have certainly moved over the classic Chocolate Truffle and Black Forest and are trying out new options. Cupcakes have become a popular item, with every café offering an endless list-smiley cupcakes to photo cupcakes, cupcakes with figures and the miniscule, bite-size ones as well. ‘Tart’ at Nariman Point promises outlandish frostings ranging from Chanel logos to bikinis, sunglasses, phones, umbrellas and lipsticks too.
For those who cannot travel far and wide to get their hands on an original French Crème Brule, even that’s available in Aamchi Mumbai. Le Pain Quotidian (Apollo Bunder) is the best place to dig your spoon into one.
Classics such as macaroon, tarts, fruit pies, custards, puddings and melbas are slowly reappearing on most dessert menus across the city. “It is precisely the love for nostalgia that has caused these oldies to surface on the dessert scene. Also, dessert does not necessarily spell chocolate,” says Aashiyana Shroff, owner of Tart. “It seems there is something rustic about them. It reminds people of something that their grandmothers baked at home,” opines Mehernosh Khajotia of Celebrations Fine Confections at Warden Road.
As far as gifting options are concerned, more and more people prefer giving chocolates instead of ladoos or pedas. These chocolate treats are making their presence felt strongly not only during weddings or birthdays, but festivals like Raksha Bandhan and Diwali as well. There are myriad options-right from the humble Cadbury to Belgian 22-carat gold-plated chocolate and even chocolate modaks.
Why the sudden shift? Simply put, people are now being more experimental and do not wish to stick to conventional options. Gifting chocolates spells class and they have a longer shelf-life as well. Plus, a serving of low-calorie, dark chocolate has almost half the calories than two small gulab jamuns. Moreover, customized gift-boxes of doughnuts are also doing the rounds during every festival, be it chocolate kalakand during Diwali or red-cherry hazelnut during Christmas. Classic desserts in shot glasses are another novel, delightful way of presenting gifts.
Bottom-line: Mumbai certainly can’t get enough of desserts. Even if fractional redemption is showered upon us.