Now girls will probably come to this particular dream after marrying prince charming and riding a unicorn. Most boys after defeating Darth Vader and taking off with his space ship. Charlie was a simple boy - this is the only thing he ever wanted. To visit the chocolate factory.
Now of course, I have not been visiting chocolate factories in Dubai - the whole idea of desert heat and chocolate brings to mind a chocolate deluge of disasterous proportions - Even Willy Wonka's chocolate river would overflow here. But I got to do the adult version of the dream - a chocolate tasting.
Has anyone ever heard of Sprüngli? Anyone? Can you even pronounce it? Try "schproongly" - it's about as close as I could get (not "sprun-glee", as I first thought). I had no idea they even existed, let alone were in Dubai, until I attended a tasting at their office in the Dubai Flower Centre (they also have an outlet at the Movenpick Bur Dubai, called "Sweet"). We were met by Gorgeous Chocolate Women Numbers 1 and 2, who welcomed us with smiles, espresso coffee and a table choc-a-block with hand crafted Swiss chocolate.
I had been on a diet.
Sprüngli are not quite like the standard chocolatiers you see around Dubai, eg. Galler, Godiva, Patchi, Alison Nelson, (who are all worthy of a visit, I must say) - most of Sprungli's sales are direct, and not through an outlet. In fact, their office is an excellent demonstration of "it's all about the product", rather than the appearance of the furnishings. No ambience, people - the party is only in your mouth.
So we tasted the chocolate.
Ok - I'm not going to take you piece by piece, because then you will discover the complete decimation of my diet. My behavior was really quite disgusting - but what would you expect when you let a hedonista loose in a chocolate depot? But let me say, there is chocolate, and there is chocolate. I've always been a fan of plain, ordinary, creamy, luscious, mouth watering milk chocolate. And there was one little piece looking like a perfect tiny rosebud that was so smooth and pristine in appearance, it looksed like it was slightly melted. Sorry Deb and Samantha (my tasting companions), all mine! Not only was it perfectly firm, and unmelted (until it reached my mouth, anyway), but it also had a touch of hazelnut, and a dried cherry fleck in the center to add a touch of sour and bitter to offset the sweet - clever.
Then the nougat truffle: a chunky praline pyramid, with crispy caramel flecks, nougat and wafer - a little like a toblerone and a ferrero rocher and a Fauchon caramel eclair all rolled into one. Then the white chocolate truffle, which I was eating while Gorgeous Chololate Woman Number 1 was telling us all about the cows and the high altitude and the herbs they ate, which in turn affects the creaminess of the milk, the tiny nuances of flavour, and thus the quality of the chocolate, particularly in an item such as white chocolate, where the flavor is decidedly transperent due to the lack of bitter cacao. It is creamier than a Lindor ball, not as sweet, better, but funkier. Serious white chocolate, and I like it.
Then Gorgeous Chocolate Woman Number 2 opened the box of Luxemburgelis. Done macaroons to death yet? I thought I had too. But these are serious macaroons. A tweet with the heading "best macaroons ever!" received a response that shows that the world is still not sated with these little amaretti-meringue hybrids. The best were the caramel, which has sepia crystalline chunks of salt on top to offset the cloying sweetness of the caramel flavor. The cappuccino has a dark chocolate ganache instead of a butter cream in the center, and I prepared myself for a bitter hit, but it is delicate, slightly sweet, and sure, it has the bitterness, but not the gunshot of it I was expecting. The lemon tastes like a lemon merangue pie - exactly. But the best was the raspberry - inside it has a tangy sweet and sour slither of jelly - perfectly emulating the perfect mix of a fresh raspberry. All macaroons shatter like a thin egg-shell, are only semi-sweet, and have only a tiny little element of chew, and are masterpieces in the art of taste-bud management - it really does not get better than this.
There were some samples that were not as spectacular as I had hoped - the pineapple wedge dipped in white and dark chocolate, was nice, but boring. The Amaretti were lovely, but without the kirsch, missing the bitter/alcohol tang I think they need. The Pistachio macaroons had the almond essence flavor everyone seems to use when making anything pistachio flavoured. But all in all, the taste sensations far outweighed the disappointments.
While I was tucking away my leftovers, trying to make out I was less of a pig than I actually am, I asked Gorgeous Chocolate Woman Number 1 and 2 how they could possibly remain so svelte of limb and skin, whilst working for a Chocolatier. They eat chocolate every day, they say. But I still questioned how much. "Oh, one or two with my coffee", number 2 says. "Ahh, so it's portion control?" I ask. I've never been to good with that. But we discussed the chocolate diet, and the benefits in particular of small amounts of dark chocolate for appetite suppression. And then we talked about Mr Maag.
Mr Maag puts the princess almonds on the Princess Chocolates, and he eats 200 - 300 g every day, and he never gets fat. The reason? He's an Oompa Loompa.
Sprungli generally ship all their products directly form the factory in Switzerland - yes, that's right, Swiss chocolate cannot be produced anywhere else in the world, so carbon footprint here we come. They ship with dry ice and copious amount of bubble-wrap and very rarely have issues with delivery. Often it is as fast as two to three days, and so even the freshness of items such as macaroons can be guaranteed.
The Dubai office is the only international dispatch. Possibly this has something to do with the UAE postal service? (Still waiting for my Blurb book delivery 6 months and two tries later...)
Chocolates are hand made to order. You can even order boxes to be printed with names or designs, or the chocolates themselves! Many of their orders are for personalised bonbonniere and baby celebratory gifts.
Pricing varies from 50AED for a 55g box of 8 chocolates to 1100 AED for 1.4kg of assorted truffles in a fabric box. The astounding macaroons are 100AED for 16 mixed, up to 320 for 72. And no, they don't do pièce montée - you would have to arrange that yourself.
contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or +971 4 220 0704 for a full price list
This is an impartial review - not an advertisement or a paid endorsement
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