12 years ago, Katalin Csiszár and her husband founded their bonbon and chocolate making company, Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé. Not entirely satisfied with the flavour of the chocolate brands they used, they decided to produce their own chocolate. “It was good, but we wanted the best. So now we are a bean to bar chocolate and bonbon maker.”
A fine selection of cocoa beans
To produce the best chocolate, the Csiszárs select the best cocoa beans. When asked how the selection process works, Csiszár smiled and said, “in the beginning, we wanted to use the Venezuelan beans of the Franceschi family. It was funny: we asked them if we could meet in Venezuela and they replied, “Yes we can meet, we’re in Budapest.” The whole family was there! So we visited their workshop and we agreed to use their beans. My husband visited a lot of their plantations in Venezuela and brought back some samples. We picked the six beans we liked best. That was 8 years ago. Since then, a lot of cocoa bean farmers have asked us to use their beans. We now use beans from Madagascar, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Peru.”
Every bean has its own aroma. The Csiszárs are always looking for something special. But how do they do it? Csiszár: “It’s very difficult to say what we’re looking for, because there are more than 600 aromas in the beans. It’s kind of an art, you try to imagine what kind of chocolate it will be, and then you decide. You have to feel it. And you can only do that by eating a lot of beans. You can’t just taste one bean; you have to put two handfuls of beans in your mouth and chew, chew, chew. You actually make chocolate in your mouth and try to assess the right balance, knowing that when making chocolate you will lose a lot of the aroma during the process, and you’ll add some others too.”
Close contact with the farmers
The Csiszárs buy the beans directly from farmers and never from traders. “Although we buy the beans from the other side of the world, the food chain is short. Selling directly from the people is the only way to do it. It is very important to know the farmers, so we visit them regularly. I just got back from Tanzania, and my husband went to Venezuela in April.
The farmer ferments the beans and dries them. This process impacts the taste of the beans: the farmer controls the acidity, the aromas and the bitterness. That’s why it is important to know the farmers – the fermentation is really a crucial step. After that, it’s up to us. Our work starts with roasting, adding, grinding, conching… We roast at very low temperatures to preserve as much of the original taste of the bean as possible. Roasting at a high temperature will give the chocolate a roasted aftertaste, which I don’t like.”
From beans to bars and bonbons
The balanced selection of cocoa beans is transformed by the Csiszár family into all sorts of chocolates: bars, bonbons, dipped cherries… “We have fixed and seasonal products. The possibilities are endless, so we create what we like. We also produce special tastes, shapes and even sculptures on request. And, for a small number of restaurants, we create chocolate drops that the patissier can use. We sell the bars and bonbons in our own shop, but they are also sold in premium shops across the world. We didn’t do any marketing for that; people are just talking about us. It’s growing slowly, and that’s fine, we don’t want to grow fast.”
Misconceptions and true stories
“There are many misconceptions about chocolate; that it makes you fat, that it’s meant for children and that the taste depends on the cocoa percentage in the chocolate, but that’s all nonsense. You can make amazingly good chocolate with 65% cocoa and an awful chocolate with 95% cocoa. It’s the chocolate maker and the aromas in the bean that determine the quality.
What’s the truth about chocolate? It’s not a cheap product but it is easy to get and it’s eaten a lot. You have to realise, however, that it comes from the other side of the world and it’s not grown in large quantities. So when you buy cheap chocolate, you should know that it is not made from good cocoa beans, there may also be child labour involved. It’s sold very cheaply to big buyers by farmers that live in poor conditions. We really have to rethink the whole thing. A growing number of people want products they can trace. They want to know where it comes from and who made it. They want their product to be made by someone who cares about the environment. So that’s what we assure them. They are able to taste and smell the difference as well.”
We visited Budapest and were overwhelmed by the enormous range of interesting and inspiring baked goods concepts. You might also be interested in the article with our selection of Budapest’s best.
Disclaimer: the selection of this concept was done on an editorial basis. There is no commercial link in relation to this article.