I was invited recently to experience Leonidas and what they have to offer for the Hot Chocolate Festival (and then some)!

I met with the lovely Aisha who runs the Belgian Chocolate speciality store and has a passion for chocolates. All the chocolates are imported fresh from Belgium every 10 days. The chocolates are made with 100% cocoa butter with absolutely no fillers, wax, vegetable or animal fats.

There are also Liege waffles, macarons and pastries made locally and even Dolce Amore gelato – which makes it the perfect destination for dessert lovers.

There are six different hot chocolates you can try out during the festival: Raspberry Cheesecake (#HotPassion), Tosca, Frozen Noisette, Tiger Milk, Jamaican Kiss, Boho Secret.

I sampled three different types, the Frozen Noisette, TigerMilk and Boho Secret. What appealed to me was the fact that the ingredients used to make these offerings were exotic and not your typical choices.

TigerMilk is made with Leonidas white chocolate, saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, pistachio and almonds. The balance of flavours in this drink would work very well to appeal to the adventurous types without being too out there and for the discerning foodie. It almost tasted like a delicious dessert you would experience going to a Middle Eastern or Indian restaurant.

BohoSecret is a combination of Leonidas 72% Sao Tome origin dark chocolate, peppermint, turmeric, pepper and honey. Tumeric has many healing properties, as Aisha explains – it speeds up healing of wounds and has shown some cancer-fighting properties. The pepper is to balance out the taste – but there is a very very mild flavour of it. The honey and peppermint is to help ‘mask’ the strong flavours. Although I’m not too big a fan of peppermint, it is also very mild in this drink, so anyone could enjoy this.

I saved the best for last, the Frozen Noisette. This is Aisha’s favourite as well – made with Leonidas Gianduja frapped into frozen yogurt and hazelnuts. Seriously, this is the best chocolate-hazelnut drink I’ve ever tasted – anywhere. I say this because I’m partial to hazelnuts and also to Gianduja but also because it’s so refreshing and I feel less guilty since its fairly healthy. This cold drink is light but perfectly sweet, the crushed hazelnuts give it great crunch. I’m so glad that this is on their regular menu, as I’ll probably have to satisfy my craving for it every so often!

To pair with these hot chocolates, Aisha put together a Leige waffle, a Pistachio macaron (which is her personal favourite), Carrot Cake with Marzipan and a couple chocolates to try.

The Leige waffle is not your typical fluffy waffle – it is denser and chewier with pearl sugar within it. As you could probably tell from the name, it originates from Belgium and is the most common type of waffle there. The Leige waffle here is great, a perfect accompaniment to these drinks. While I prefer my waffle plain or with fruit, there are many other toppings you can add to it.

Leonidas also carries locally made macarons. The one I tried was the Pistachio, the macaron is average size and is less sweet than most I’ve experienced. While having a sweet, sugary pillow of heaven is a treat – this is more tasty and you feel less guilty enjoying several!

The Carrot Cake is dense with more nuts and a great marzipan topping. When eating it, its best to eat the marzipan along with the dessert. It gives a sweeter taste to the carrot cake.

I was much too full to finish the chocolates but I did get to enjoy them at home! Leonidas is one of the largest chocolate companies in the world, yet fairly new to the Vancouver scene.

I’d definitely recommend you check it out and say hello to Aisha if you’re in!

I’d like to thank Aisha for having me and also for the great recommendations for other good eats around town! See you soon!

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