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CACAO CRAZY!

July is the sweetest month, with World Chocolate Day and The Good Food and Wine Show (GF&WS) as two of its confection-filled highlights.

Whether it’s hot or cold, dark or white, or in solid or liquid form, chocolate is, and has always been, an internationally beloved treat. This is why many countries, including South Africa, will observe World Chocolate Day on 7 July.

Folks vary when explaining why this date was chosen for some countries (the US has International Chocolate Day on 13 September). Many claim that it’s the date chocolate was first brought to Europe, about 500 years ago, while some food historians say it was when modern chocolate bars were first introduced in the 19th century.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good excuse for having pain au chocolat and a hot Mocca Java for breakfast, cooking something savoury that incorporates chocolate into its ingredients, and finishing the day off with a big slice of cake and a mug of hot chocolate. Or, y’know, you could just wolf down a good bag of whispers during your lunch break.

And if that doesn’t leave you sated for a while, then there’s always The Good Food & Wine Show (GF&WS) to attend. Held from 28 to 30 July, the extravaganza’s Johannesburg instalment will play host to a bevy of exhibitors from across South Africa, all ready to show off their chocolatey goods.

The ever-popular treats made by Sally Williams Fine Foods will be on display, many of them covered in Belgian milk and dark chocolate. These include their famous nougat sweets and lemon- , rose- and orange-flavoured Turkish Delights. They also make chocolate bars (some mint-flavoured) with roasted nougat pieces.

On the subject of Belgian chocolate, Durban-based Rhubee’s Chocolatiers will be exhibiting their own sucrose-free and handmade variety, as well as their cacao nibs and powder, sourced from Tanzania and other parts of Africa. Added to that, Gauteng’s Moer Lekker are showcasing their exciting collection Belgian chocolates…which are filled with liqueur! Look forward to flavours as varied as Cherry, Amarula, Coffee and Turkish Delight, among others.

AFRIKOA, who won silver in the Shell Scheme Stand category at the Cape Town iteration of GF&WS, will also be sharing their delicious treats with is in Joburg. Made with cocoa beans sourced, once again, from Tanzania, AFRIKOA's milk, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate slabs will satisfy all chocoholics in attendance.

There’ll also be pastry and baked goods galore on display at GF&WS, and you can be sure that they’ll be offered with a healthy dose of chocolate. Paquito’s Treatery will be spoiling all with a Spanish delicacy: churros. Commonly called Spanish doughnuts, they are long thick strings of fried choux pastry that are best served with a yummy hot chocolate dip.

You can also treat yourself to a beignet, another choux pastry delicacy, this one from France. The Beignet Brothers specialise in these delights, and their food truck will be open to all. You can smother your beignet in Nutella sauce or sprinkle it with an oreo or choc mint topping.

The Stylish Baker, a Joburg-based store that supplies bakeware and a variety of baking ingredients, also boasts a selection of goods that’ll satisfy your chocolate craving when you’re at home. The produce a variety of chocolate buttons, from dark to white, that’ll make your favourite chocolate cake recipe all the more enticing.

From baked to frozen we go, and if you scream for ice cream, then GF&WS is the event for you. The N2 Ice Cream Lab will make an appearance, wowing all with their desserts that get frozen before your very eyes with a good blast of Nitrogen. You can choose Chocolate or Banting Chocolate-flavoured ice cream; mix it with white chocolate, Toblerone or choc hazelnut; and top it with such chocolatey faves as chopped Flake, Smarties, Oreos, Astros or Bar One.

You’ll also come across Yococo’s dairy-free artisanal ice cream, which incorporates flavours as diverse as granadilla chocolate swirl and beetroot with dark chocolate. These desserts will be a dream come true for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

In fact, there are a few exhibitors at GF&WS who cater specifically for people who are health-conscious or allergic to certain foodstuffs. Small Joburg business Gluten Free Cakes will be selling, among other goods, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate cake and cupcake pre-mixes, all of them free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts.

Atkins SA will also be exhibiting for those who are carbon-conscious but retain a sweet tooth. Look out for their various bars that combine chocolate with hazelnut, orange, peanuts and caramel, coconut, raspberry, and mint. They also sell a ready-to-drink Milk Chocolate Shake, as well as Chocolate Shake Mix.

Last, but certainly not least, is de-LUSH-ious treats, who stock products by numerous South African brands. You’ll find wholesome chocolate slabs by The Drakensberg’s Chocolate Memories; some red wine and chocolate toffee by Darling Sweet, who’ll have a display of their own at GF&WS; chocolate fudge by Tasha’s; and even more confections by Sally Williams.

Willy Wonka has nothing on GF&WS. The culinary extravaganza, along with the celebrations that’ll take place on World Chocolate Day, will leave you perfectly sated come the end of July.

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