Photos: Koutheïr KHANCHOUCH
The 5It is The edition of the Chocolate and Pastry Fair, which took place from the 23rd to the 25th of November 2023 at the headquarters of Utica, in Tunis, left us guessing the place occupied by this luxury among Tunisians. Unlike previous editions, where chocolate artisans jostled for visitors to taste their gourmet creations to stand out from other participants and resist the competition, this edition presents chocolate as a delicacy among many others! The stalls specializing in chocolate making could be counted on one hand. Any ! The good organization, the diversity and quality of the products on sale, as well as the jovial aspect of the event immediately gave a taste of the end of year celebration. Communicating.
The second day of the Chocolate and Pastry Fair was an opportunity for confectionery lovers to come and discover, among a wide range of delicacies, those that delight the palate and warm the heart. Career chocolatiers and confectioners were present at the event, as well as new artisans in the area. Mouna Ben Makhlouf is one of the new chocolate experts. His creations are truly mouth-watering. Chocolates with mirrored and marbled coverings gained trendy colors. “My sister and I created our project a year and a half ago. We decided to change specialties, as I am a designer by training and she is an architect. The choice of the project comes down, firstly, to a common passion but also to a product that increasingly attracts the attention of fine gourmets. Nowadays, chocolate is present in ceremonies. Demand is growing,” she says. And to better position themselves in the market, the two sisters received high-level training in the USA. They offer white chocolate with lemon, dark chocolate with dried fruits and milk chocolate with hazelnuts. The shine of fashionable chocolates comes from the cocoa butter used for this purpose. Their prices vary between 200 and 210dt per kilo. For classic chocolate, its price is 170dt per kilo.
Chocolate: the ingredient inevitable
A little further away, Khouloud Belhaj, manager of a pastry chain whose outlets span several provinces, finds it difficult to manage the spontaneously turbulent orders of young customers.
“We offer special personalized chocolates to celebrate births, weddings, engagements, as well as other chocolate-based treats such as macaroons and our succulent masterpiece, namely the famous samsa filled with hazelnuts and covered with chocolate crunch.”
The price of samsa is 98dt per kilogram; that of chocolate biscuits varies from 5 to 9dt. The chocolate itself is sold for 2.5 tons per piece!
Fans meet there
It must be said that the diversification of products on sale comes down, among other things, to the desire to respond favorably to visitor demand. Let’s admit that the price of artisanal chocolate doesn’t suit all budgets! Akrem Ben Othman, a company manager, never misses an issue. “This show represents, for me, an unmissable annual event. Compared to previous editions, this edition is much better organized and richer. Certainly, he continues, artisanal chocolate is expensive, but this is explained by its nature as a prestige and quality product. If adults are careful about quality and price, cherubs recommend only indulgence! Alissa Fratini is nine years old. This little girl is delighted to be in this little chocolate kingdom. “It’s beautiful. There I discover many things that I would like to buy and try”, he emphasizes, with his eyes shining. Sélima Ksouri speaks, interested as she is in the subject: “I love the decoration, the place and the chocolate that I like not too sweet”. As for Mayar Hamdi, she tells us that this is the first time she has visited such a large event, focused mainly on chocolate and pastries. “There’s chocolate that I like, macaroons, lollipops… I think it’s magnificent”, she adds.
Cakes and cookies
And that’s not all! As visitors stroll through the pavilions, they discover mini cheesecakes, carefully prepared by Zeineb Hada, a cheesecake lover whose professional career is just two months old! “Everyone who tries my cheesecakes asks for them.
This encouraged me, she says, to pursue a career as a pastry chef specializing in preparing this delicacy. I also participate in the show offering mini cheesecakes with raspberry, blueberry and three varieties of chocolate. I’m selling the piece for just 1.5tnd. Zeineb will certainly take advantage of the opportunity to establish professional contacts, particularly with other confectioners and raw material suppliers.
Small pastry workshops
Azza Jaouadi specializes in cookies. Her project is only a year old and is now progressing with steady steps, moving from selling ready-made biscuits and shortbread, whose prices range between 16 and 27tnd, to organizing workshops for children. “The workshops introduce children to baking.
From the age of three onwards, budding bakers can have fun preparing or coloring cookies.
This activity has a respectable demand for birthdays, Mother’s Day, clubs, etc. It is for this reason that I wanted to set up a small workshop within the stand itself, with a capacity of no more than five children, due to lack of larger space. I recently started giving pastry workshops to teenagers and adults”, he adds. Azza biscuits are sold in 5, 6 and 7dt. Boxes of cookies to decorate cost 15dt each.
“Garn ghzel” by Tataouine: finer, more refined
Traditional pastries were also present. Tataouine’s “garn el ghzel”, this delicacy with unparalleled flavor, was revisited by Wajdi Saâdi, a trained mechanic! “I thought I would highlight Tataouine’s culinary heritage by revisiting gazelle horns. This traditional cake seems a little too filling for some, to the point where they can’t eat the whole piece. So we thought about preparing smaller, finer and more refined pieces,” he explains. In fact, unlike the traditional recipe whose filling contains almonds, sesame seeds and peanuts, the Wajdi recipe is made entirely from almonds. A kilo of small-format gazelle horns is 35dt, large-format is 30dt.
When diet rhymes with pleasure
Chocolate, dry cakes, traditional cakes but also nutritious preparations that can also be consumed as is or used as ingredients for other recipes. Jihed Massaoud traveled from Gafsa to participate in the Fair and improve the visibility of its products. This young woman also chose to change her niche to enter the area of dietary and nutritional products. “I have a degree in financial management. However, I decided to change my niche by following an online pastry training course.
My project, on the other hand, consists of preparing dietary products such as biscuits made from sugar and date flour, different varieties of bsissa, nut butters or pastes, dried fruit zrir and other traditional recipes using pure butter and honey. pure”, she says, delighted. And despite the wide variety and good quality of its products, Jihed applies a very affordable price range: dietary bsissa preparations cost 20dt for a 200g jar; dried fruit pastes or butters vary between 15 and 45dt. Prices for special keto products for diabetics range from 15 to 35dt. As for granola, it offers 30dt for a 400g jar.
It should be noted that parallel to the Exhibition there was a workshop for children and a competition for pastry students. “The children’s workshop consists of familiarizing children with chocolate. We introduce them to handling chocolate and decorating pieces of cake. As for the competition, says Yosra Lachheb, trainer, it is aimed at students at the BTP or BTS level. The theme is chocolate sculpture.
Photos: Koutheïr KHANCHOUCH