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The Chocolate Holidays!

Sandra Abballe

Hello Chocolate Lovers,

I bet it hasn’t even been a week since you’ve heard that holiday jingle: “It’s the most, won-der-ful time, of the year.” Well, it really is. Why? It’s that wonderful month of holidays, parties and Secret Santas.  The best part of this for all of you, would be that the go-to gift for all of the above occasions is chocolate!

The holidays are pique chocolate celebration days. Chocolate makes the perfect gift. Whether it’s a small chocolate bar with a card that you give away to a colleague, or a giant box of delicious handmade chocolates you give to that special someone – everyone loves chocolate gifts.

Chocolate has a larger place in this holiday season than the typical mass-market giveaway would suggest. There are quite a few traditions that can be linked back to chocolate.

It is both a Christmas and Hanukkah tradition to receive chocolate coins. During Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, it is customary for families to celebrate with “gelt” which translates to money. This comes in the form of chewy chocolate coins that come wrapped in silver and gold. In the Christmas tradition, the chocolate coin is said to be derived from the deeds of Saint Nicholas.

Chocolate is also very present on people’s tables for holiday meals. Chocolate creations may even be the centre of attention in some cultures. For instance, ever since its creation in the late 1800s, on Christmas Eve, the French indulge in the Christmas Yule Log which is essentially a sponge cake covered in chocolate buttercream to look like the bark of a log. The presentation of the “Buche de Noël” (Christmas Log) is the focus of the French holiday meal.

Clearly, chocolate has a history of being a part of the holidays. This is that beautiful time of year to indulge. Chocolate is nature’s gift to the world so do receive it with great joy and enjoy it this holiday season. Give the gift that puts a smile on almost anyone’s face and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Happy Holidays! 

The Season of Chocolate and Wine

Sandra Abballe

Hello Chocolate Lovers,

Fall is here, the leaves are changing and the weather is dropping. Put away the ice cream and take the furniture off of the patio because there are no more long summer nights. Many may be sad about this, but all the chocolate lovers out there know that this is just the beginning of the best time of the year.

Now, there may be no more patio parties but people can still have plenty of fun and social gatherings indoors – you just need to know how. What could possibly be a better way to get the party started than a delicious bite of your favourite chocolate? This is a rhetorical question because everyone knows that there is no better way than with chocolate.

That then leaves the question: where’s the wine? Well the great news with chocolate and wine is that you never have to decide between the two. Like peanut butter and jelly, the two go well together. People love to indulge in chocolate and wine at the end of the day, might as well pair the two.

Chocolate and wine pairings have been around for a while, but have recently become more of a trend. The two are exceptionally similar. Both have ancient histories. Chocolate was even enjoyed as an alcoholic beverage for years as the sweet pulp of cacao was fermented to produce alcohol. Chocolate and wine both begin their journey to their finished states with fermentation. People that are well versed in chocolate will know that chocolate has hundreds of flavour profiles – even more than wine. This is why the two pair so well together.

Naysayers out there who don’t agree that chocolate and wine pairings work are not doing it right. The trick is to take a nice coverture chocolate with a darker bolder taste, and pair that with a fruitier or sweeter wine. The sweetness of the wine will compliment the chocolate well. Darker origin chocolates deriving from a single location are always a good bet. The key is all in matching the lightness of the chocolate with the lightness of the wine.

That being said, I leave the rest in your hands. For the next party, why not ditch the cheese and pair some chocolate with your wine? It will certainly add an elegant and informative touch to any social gathering. Forget the baking and opt in for some delicious ready-made chocolate plate and engage in a luxurious tasting experience with your guests. 

Forget the Trick - Give me Some Chocolate Treats

Sandra Abballe

Hello Chocolate Lovers,

It has finally come, the month we have all been waiting for that drives our cravings mad – October! By this point, we have all seen the chocolate value packs and other sweet treats that line the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets in preparation of Halloween.

Shoppers are on high alert trying not to fall victim to their chocolate cravings when marching their carts down the aisles. This is for good reason too - chocolate is North America’s favourite flavour. If you ask any trick-or-treater, they will tell you that they are looking forward to getting chocolate bars in their sacs.

However, this leaves one pondering the question of how this all came to be. Let’s take a quick look at some historical ties between chocolate and Halloween shall we?

The tie between chocolate and Halloween actually goes far beyond trick-or-treating. It can go back to the Mexican tradition of the “Day of the Dead” which derives from 15th century Aztec mythology of offerings for the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the ruler of the underworld.

In Mexico during the festival of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), chocolate was a very popular beverage offering for the spirits along with coffee and tequila. Chocolate has actually been interwoven into the fabric of the holiday.

In addition, the practice of trick-or-treating has many roots – it didn’t start out with people getting candy. One root would be that it derives from an Old Catholic tradition of going from house to house and begging for food in a practice called “souling.” Masquerades also occurred during the beggings and through the interesting process of tradition evolution, this led to trick-or-treating.

Once sweets were given out at the door during this practice, there was no doubt chocolate would be given out as well. Chocolate was a giveaway of choice for decades. In fact, Waldorf chocolate was a primary Halloween candy of the 1900s. They were priced at 25 cents per pound no less. My how times have changed.

By the 60s with larger chocolate manufacturing companies (i.e. Hershey, Nestle and M&M) becoming more mainstream, is there any question as to why chocolate has become the favourite?

So what’s the moral of this history lesson? This is a time where you should indulge in chocolate! Chocolate is a major part of Halloween and has been for centuries –enjoy it!

Happy Halloween! 

Alto El Sol

Sandra Abballe

Lost in the depths of the lush Amazon jungle in Peru, the Alto el Sol plantation stands near to pre-Colombian ruins-the remnants of a culture that already knew the secrets of cocoa 1,000 years ago. Here you will find Amazonian Criollo trees, renowned for their file and delicate beans.

Plantation chocolate couverture offers a vintage specific to each year.

Developed from the best beans, the two plantations are harvested according to Bio NOP regulations (products derived from an organic farm: certification according to European and American regulations). The fact that the beans come from a single plantation allows Cocoa Barry to offer products with consistent and unmistakable flavor. The three references that are part of the Plantation range contain 65% cocoa, giving the chocolate a powerful aroma and a strong personality. An exceptional chocolate, this coverture has a character of unparalleled intensity. Its acidity and pronounced bitterness blend subtly with aromatic and notable notes of yellow fruit.

Because every plantation has its own flavours, because every season has its own specificity, the Alto el Sol beans possess a unique and outstanding personality. Bite into an Alto El Sol Plantation chocolate bar this Fall. 

How the Nations Enjoy Chocolate

Sandra Abballe

Hello Chocolate Lovers,

Let’s face it – we all love chocolate. Of course there are different degrees of how much we all love chocolate, but this magical, versatile and delicious creation has been around for centuries for a reason. With International Chocolate Day in this month, what better way is there to celebrate than by looking at international love for chocolate?

We of course must address the fact that there is a difference between the countries that produce chocolate and those that get to enjoy the finished product. Countries that produce most of the cocoa needed for this chocolate do not typically engage in its consumption. For instance, Africa produces more than 75% of the world’s cocoa. About 35% of the world’s cocoa can be linked back to the Ivory Coast alone, whereas the whole continent of Africa makes up only 3% of the world’s chocolate consumption.

The chocolate industry is quite a fascinating area to look into. The statistics behind chocolate consumption can actually be very surprising.  


Indulging in chocolate in its finished state is a very Western-dominated area. For example, statistics show that chocolate is North America’s favourite flavour.

It would then stand to reason that North American countries top the charts in chocolate consumption right? Wrong.

European countries actually take the (chocolate) cake on this one. The most recent statistics suggest that European countries consume the most chocolate on a per capita basis. The top chocolate-consuming countries are:

1.     Switzerland

2.     Ireland

3.     United Kingdom

4.     Austria

5.     Belgium

Canada is actually the first non-European country to appear on that list being situated right under Denmark. Canada is ranked number 9 with about 6.4kg of chocolate consumed per capita.  The United States would be ranked 15th on that list.

So when International Chocolate Day rolls around on September 13th, celebrate the best way possible - by indulging in your favourite chocolate. Who knows? You just might move your nation up on that list!

Fun Fact: Chocolate Makes You Happier

Sandra Abballe

Did you know that chocolate makes people happy? Of course you did. It is delicious to eat. Chocolate  provides a moment of bliss from the stresses of everyday life. How wouldn’t it make us happy? 

Aside from the fact that it is a delicious treat, there is actually scientific backing to support what we all know about chocolate. It has been proven that there are actual chemical properties in chocolate that can make people happier. 

Scientists and doctors all say that chocolate releases hormones including serotonin and dopamine which affect human feelings and make people feel good. When you feel good, you feel happy. 

This just proves that the next time you need an afternoon mood-lifter, reach for some chocolate!

Our Newest Succulent Chocolates Fan!

Sandra Abballe

Succulent Chocolates found their newest fan - Prime Minister Stephen Harper! On March 18th, 2015, Chef Sandra Abballe had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Harper at a private announcement he made specifically for entrepreneurs and small businesses. 

During this announcement, Mr. Harper stated that the government would take measures to support and open new markets for small and medium-sized businesses. This is good news for ambitious entrepreneurs like Chef Sandra. 

After the announcement, Chef Sandra had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Harper. Turns out he is a fan of Succulent Chocolates, pictured holding a box of Chef Sandra's award winning Crunchy Apple bonbons and a chocolate Succulent Chocolates logo. 


Women's to Women's Symposium with Arlene Dickinson

Sandra Abballe

On Wednesday, November 13 we took part of a wonderful event put on by the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. The Women's to Women's Symposium with 60 vendors and guest speaker Arlene Dickinson. Her speech was very inspirational, especially for a young female entrepreneur! 

We were sampling an assortment of our product line including our hand painted chocolate bonbons. At the event, we were raffeling off a chocolate lovers basket valued at $100.00 which includes; 21 hand painted bonbons, 2 packages of pate de fruit, 2 packages of hand piped chooclate sticks, a jar of chocolate hazelnut spread and a 1 KG box of origin chocolate. And the winner is... Anna Marin of Marin Media Group! Congratulations. I will be dropping of your basket to your office location before the end of this week. 




We launched our holiday box - perfect for corporate gifts.
The Box includes: 

Jar of chocolate hazelnut spread 
Box of 5 raspberry pate de fruit 
Box of 10 origin chocolate sticks
Chocolate holiday ornament 
Instant sipping chocolate with homemade marshmallow
Box of 2 ice wine truffles 
Peppermint chocolate plaque

Value: $55.00 


The World Chocolate Masters... Finals in Paris

Sandra Abballe

Italy's Chocolate Showpiece

Netherlands' Chocolate Showpiece

Australia's Chocolate Showpiece

I was lucky to be selected as on of the chocolatiers from Toronto to be sent to watch the World Chocolate Masters Finals in Paris. A three-day, intense competition between nineteen national chocolate masters. And the winners are:  

1/ Davide Comaschi - Italy
2/ Marike Van Beurden - The Netherlands
3/ Deniz Karaca - Australia

These chefs brought chocolate to a whole new level. The theme is consistent with the preselection; Architecture of Taste. A very broad theme and we saw how it was interpreted in many different ways. Each chef was required to create:

1. Chocolate Showpiece
2. Dipped Praline
3. Chocolate Layered Cake (Entremet) 
4. Gastronomic Chocolate Dessert
5. Moulded Praline (Bonbon)
6. Architect of the World Mini Showpiece  

After competing at the Canadian Preselections in January, I have a deep understanding of the patiences and dedication that goes into a competition at this level. It was an honor to have just been selected to compete at the preselections and a thrill to have won the category of Canada's Best Molded Bonbon. Chef Oiliver Tribut, who won the Canada's Preselection, was there to represent Canada and did a our country proud!! We were also there to support our fellow Torontonian, Chef Sergio Shidomi who was representing Brazil. 

For more pictures and videos from the WCM 2013
Please visit: 

A selection of the Hand Dipped Praline at the WCM Finals 2013

Canada's Chocolate Showpiece 

World Chocolate Masters Finals 2013

During our time in Paris, we had an opportunity to visit some wonderful chocolate & pastry shops. We were lucky to receive a private tour through the Patrick Roger Chocolate Lab. It was wonderful to see the contrast between his hand carved  life-size chocolate sculptures and the delicateness of his hand painted moulded bonbons. A true master of our craft! 

Inside the Chocolate Lab of Patrick Roger

Patrick Roger's Hand Painted Bonbons  

The Luxury Chocolate Show

Sandra Abballe

On November 3rd we took part of the 3rd Annual Luxury Chocolate Show at Roy Thompson Hall. Guests had the opportunity to taste our hand painted bonbons, pate de fruit and origin chocolate sticks. I always love when guests bite into the chocolate and their face lights up. For me, that makes everything worth it! Seeing that moment when the person is transported to a place of happiness is so special. I recently read a quote from Elsa Schiaparelli "A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness". I couldn't agree more! 

I did a demo at the show where I talked more about origin and plantation chocolate (now available under Shop). Origin chocolate means that all of the cacao beans are grown and harvested in one country, whereas plantation chocolate means that all of the cacao beans are grown and harvested on one particular farm by the same farmer year after year. This is a very special chocolate as it has a limited crop and offers an unique flavour. Typically chocolate is grown throughout the world and the chocolate manufacturer collects their beans to develop the cacao percentages that they are looking for. Very similar to wine, depending on where in the world the chocolate is grown, the flavour will change. You can have a 75% chocolate from Tanzania and a 76% chocolate from Ecuador; even though they are only 1% difference they will taste very different. 

Origin chocolate means that all of the cacao beans are grown and harvested in one country, whereas plantation chocolate means that all of the cacao beans are grown and harvested on one particular farm by the same farmer year after year.
Luxury Chocolate Show_Succulent Chocolates10.JPG

I went on to explain how I used both an origin chocolate and a plantation chocolate in my Award Winning Bonbon from The World Chocolate Masters Canadian Preselection. The chocolate is a combination of diced caramelized apples and a salted peanut butter ganache. I used a combination of Alto el Sole Plantation Chocolate from Peru and Origin Chocolate from Ghana to make the bonbon shell and I also used Origin Chocolate from Ghana to make the Salted Peanut Butter Ganache. 

Guests at the show had an opportunity to enter a draw for a Chocolate and Wine Pairing Party for 6. I am happy to announce that the winner is LARRY HUMPRIES. With such an overwhelming response and in the spirit of the Holiday Season, we have decided to offer second prize of a value of $50.00. 2nd Prize goes to CANDIDA DE CLOU. 

A Sexy, Chocolate Filled Event!

Sandra Abballe

On Saturday, August 3 Succulent Chocolates took part of 50 Shades of Vain, hosted by The Vanity Events at Berlin Nightclub. It was a sexy fun filled night dedicated to celebrate the uninhibited sexuality of women!  

Succulent Chocolates provided a full chocolate tasting table paired with STLTO / VIP Wines. With the Malbec having aromas of fresh cherries and hints of vanilla, I decided to pair it with a chocolate stick made from 75% Single Origin Chocolate from Tanzanie. I topped the chocolate with dried cherries and caramelized pecans. The cherries helped to accentuate the fruit flavours and the pecans provided a nice balance to the acid.

Single Origin Chocolates are cultivated in limited quantities, harvested exclusively in one country, offering a unique flavour profile. 

I also paired this Malbec with a 65% plantation chocolate from Peru. Plantation chocolate is very rare since all of the cocoa beans are grown and harvested on one farm, called Alto el Sole. This allows the rich, intense flavours of the cacao beans to really shine through. Even though this may be labeled as a 65%, it has the body and intensity of at least 75% +. That's what makes this a perfect pair for rich, full bodied red wines. 

I always like pair white wines with one of our hand painted bonbons. This ensures that the cacao flavour is not too overpowering, allowing the flavours of the wine to still shine through. This Pinot was light and clean with undertones of green apples. It has a slightly floral nose with a touch of fennel and almond. I decided it pair it with Canada's Best Bonbon, the Crunchy Apple. The caramelized apples worked perfectly with the apples flavours, while the salted peanut butter ganache helped to keep a sweet balance. I also paired this wine with our Fennel Seed Bonbon, a flavour from our adventurous bonbon line. Since this wine already has aromas of fennel, this pair was a perfect match. It's always fun to see people's reaction as they indulge in one of the adventurous flavours.They are sceptical at first, but it always ends with a big smile on their face! The ladies loved the fennel seed bonbon with the wine - it was the perfect pair! 



Chef Sandra with Owner of STLTO Wine, Sarah Liberatore


Chef Sandra with our two lucky draw winners of one $75 Basket of Succulent Chocolate Products! 

Chef Sandra sharing her passion for chocolate!  

The Chocolate Ball

Sandra Abballe

Succulent Chocolates at The Chocolate Ball

On Friday night Succulent Chocolates was featured as one of the chocolate vendors of The Chocolate Ball in support of The Heart and Stroke Foundation. It was a night dedicated solely to chocolate, with chocolate infused in to the four course meal. Hosted by Global Toronto's Antony Robart. Partial Proceeds went to The Heart and Stroke Foundation. 

We were set up throughout the duration of the evening giving away our hand painted chocolate bonbons, chocolate origin batons and raspberry pate de fruit to cleanse the pallet from all the chocolate! 

40% Ghana Chocolate topped with Caramelized Hazelnuts and Sage ---- 75% Tanzanie Chocolate topped with Rosemary and Cranberries

The most wonderful part of the evening was seeing people's reactions when they first bite into the products. There is always that moment of curiosity and then genuine surprise and delight. It's always rewarding as a Chef to see people enjoy all the hard work and love I put into my products

Hand Made Chocolate Flower with Raspberry Pate de Fruit (in the Background)

The two flavour we offered: The Crunchy Apple (Winning Bonbon) and Espresso Bean Bonbon

At the end of the night Antony Robart (Global News at Noon) and I gave away a gift basket with a value of $75.00 - just in time for Mother's Day. Congratulations to our lucky winner!

The lucky winner of our Mother's Day Basket Raffle with our event host Antony Robarts and Chef Sandra