Artisan Chocolate – Music for the Palate

The artisan chocolate scene in Zagreb is stronger than ever before. Of course, the chocolate confectionery industry has always been strong here and good chocolate is highly appreciated.

But on top of that, when you have a small-scale chocolate business driven by passion and based on creativity, then you get something really special. Besides, two chocolatiers that I wish to present have something more in common than just their love for chocolate combined with a lot of imagination and innovativeness. As it turns out, making music is a good pre-condition to become a top-notch artisan chocolate maker. As well as basing your workshop in Novi Zagreb.

“Taman’s business card – their regular gourmet chocolate bar series.” Image credit: Taman Artisan Chocolates FB

The name Stiv Kahlina is not unfamiliar to those who listened to Croatian hip hop music in the 1990s. Under his stage name El Bahattee, he recorded two acclaimed album and enjoyed a well-earned reputation among Zagreb rappers. Today he is a certified Master Chocolatier and one of the leading experts on chocolate in Croatia, with an impressive number of international awards for his creations. The brand is called Taman Artisan Chocolates and it was officially established in 2015. It all started with a casual visit to a big chocolate fair in Paris years before. Step by step, Stiv and his wife Sanja entered the wonderful world of chocolate, and he educated himself, determined to learn everything there is to know, from theory to practice.

“Stiv travelling to the source of cacao beans in South America – that’s dedication!” Image credit: Taman Artisan Chocolates FB

I first noticed their chocolate bars in some of Zagreb's deli shops a few years ago. Apart from their minimalistic elegant design, they attracted my attention with interesting flavours like „dark chocolate with orange, pepper and thyme“ or „milk chocolate with roasted sesame and curry“. This set of around a dozen gourmet chocolate bars is their regular product, but where their imagination can run a bit wilder is the area of custom-made pralines. Taman team is also happy to organize workshops to spread their knowledge and enthusiasm. Apart from delivering high-quality chocolates, Stiv is dedicated to raising the awareness of chocolate culture, from ethical and sustainable sourcing to the final product. This can be seen in their latest creation, a limited series of “bean to bar” chocolates for real connoisseurs, made from carefully selected cacao beans from famous microlocations. The intention is to show that chocolate can also have its terroir, just like wine.

“You really have to love chocolate to take your hobby to this level.” Image credit: Chozen Peace of Chocolate FB

Another praline revolutionary is found under the brand name Chozen, with the slogan „Peace of Chocolate“. It's a one-man operation, and the man is Dražen Zeljković. And his connection with music? Maybe not so direct like Stiv's, but as a digital compositing artist he collaborated with musicians and took part in the production of music videos. What he does with handmade chocolate pralines is also a kind of art. Not only are their flavour combinations irresistible, they are also a visual treat. What started as a hobby became a business this year, and Chozen has already made an impact on the craft chocolate market. His standard box of pralines includes six regular flavours (like lime and cardamom, or hazelnut and popcorn). Occasionaly Dražen also makes some limited series or custom-made products, and we expect a lot of great and tasty things from this promising newcomer. A box of these beauties is the best present a chocolate lover can get.

“Aren’t they cute? Chozen’s special winter pralines. ” Image credit: Chozen Peace of Chocolate FB

See, music and chocolate are connected in a way, in the case of Taman and Chozen. But as every chocolate freak out there knows – a beautiful praline can make music in your mouth with its symphony of textures, aromas and flavours.

“Making artisan chocolate takes a lot of skills, patience and, above all, love.” Image credit: Taman Artisan Chocolates FB

Header image credit: Chozen Peace of Chocolate FB

Author: Morana Zibar / Taste of Croatia