One chef, one ingredient: chocolate by Pierre Marcolini
For Belgian pastry chef and chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, no other ingredient comes close to chocolate.
What led you to choose this ingredient? What is your best kitchen memory associated with this ingredient?
Pierre Marcolini: Chocolate is an ingredient that has always inspired me, which explains why I became a chocolatier. The memory I most associate with this ingredient dates back to my childhood. When I was a boy, my mother used to make a pastry called a Merveilleux. It’s a simple recipe that combines different flavors and textures: whipped cream, flavored with vanilla, is placed delicately between two meringue shells, and the entire preparation is generously covered in chocolate shavings. It was served in a large bowl, and I would sometimes go back for third or fourth helpings. It was the dessert we all waited for impatiently on Sundays.
When is this ingredient in season?
PM: Chocolate is eaten all year, but a little less in the summer. I thought about the best way to add a bit of freshness to this ingredient that can sometimes seem heavy, by combining it with fruit and/or herbs.
What other ingredients can be combined with chocolate to delight and surprise the tastebuds?
PM: Chocolate goes perfectly well with savory dishes. One can combine it with foie gras or use it to season game, or even add a bit to red mullet.
What are the most common mistakes made when preparing this ingredient?
PM: The mistakes can come from cooking methods: chocolate is a dry matter, so it can burn very quickly. Or during serving: one should avoid serving chocolate with overly sweet wines.
How do you offer chocolate in your shops?
PM: We recently created a collection of colorful herbal chocolate candies, to be savored fully chilled.
What wine (or other alcohol) is best paired with this ingredient?
PM: Dark chocolate is perfectly complemented by wines from the Rhône region. For milk chocolate, an aged white wine from the Burgundy region is a perfect match.