Notwithstanding its incessant infantilization, to the cognoscenti, good chocolate is as much of an adult pleasure as fine wine or a Cuban cigar. While artisanal manufacturers Earth Loaf and All Things now offer an alternative to mass market chocolate, the luxury segment is still anyone’s game.

Or was, given that diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd has firmly stamped its claim on the sector with its newest brand, Fabelle. After an astounding nine years in the works, the first store-in-hotel opened in Bengaluru last month; it is to travel to ITC’s flagship properties in Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai by the end of the year. The prototype store is at par with the best in the world, 1,172 sq. ft of gleaming marble, contemporary chandeliers and two temperature-controlled display cases set to exact degrees Centigrade for the Elements and Ganache ranges.

Ah, the chocolates. As a bit of a snob myself, my preferred dark poison of late has been the Royce Nama Ghana Bitter. The Fabelle Rich Dark Ganache ( 675 for 20 pieces; also available in Creamy Milk), which uses chocolate from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, comes very, very close, also weighing in at 6g but a more solid-feeling bar, the shell dusted with cocoa and filled with butter and fresh cream. The best way to have it is to bite off a small bit, place it on the tongue and let body heat do the rest. The mouthfeel is something that will linger long after the melted chocolate has slid down the throat.

If the Ganache is for the chocolate aficionado you know very well, the Elements range of handcrafted pralines ( 400 for five; 750 for 10) is a more please-all package, five individual chocolates inspired by earth (dark chocolate, dark mousse), air (dark chocolate, aerated mousse), water (dark chocolate, dark mousse, acacia nectar, sea salt), wood (cinnamon, coffee, dark mousse) and fire (dark chocolate, white mousse, Ancho chilli, candied mango). Of these, the water variant was a favourite; the Ancho kick can be disregarded only by hardened chilli-fiends.

There are other takeaway options (chocolate cups filled and topped with various sinful things; single cups, 100; six cups, 500; and 12 cups, 1,000, personalized through a user-friendly tablet), but to my mind the chocolate boutique doubles up brilliantly as a dessert bar, something that Bengaluru sadly lacks. The four menu pages of in-house eats include a Chocolate Flower ( 525), a single-origin dark chocolate mousse with a raspberry confit set within chocolate petals that blooms dramatically at the table, and a killer Spiced Hot Chocolate ( 425) blending Madagascar chocolate with Chantilly cream.

Definitely one for the connoisseur.

Fabelle at ITC Gardenia, 1, Residency Road, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru. Open from 11am-11pm.

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