Friday, June 27, 2014

A chat with a professional flavourologist and a chocolate tart to soften the blow

So it turns out that being a flavourologist is a thing. Yep bugger the astronauts, racing car drivers and ballerinas, I want to be a professional flavourologist at Cadbury when I grow up. Seriously, where was that memo at all those bullshit career days and planning sessions we all endured growing up. Teenage angst would reduce dramatically if we even knew such jobs existed.   I get to chat to Carla Filia – Cadbury Dairy Milk Flavourologist and probably the happiest person on the planet. This woman is involved in just about every aspect of the way Cadbury Dairy Milk blocks are made, advertised, packaged and sold in Australia.

Describe what you do in 3 words.
Experiment. Create mess. Listen.

Where does your inspiration for flavour come from?
It’s a little bit research, a little bit listening to fans and little bit messy creative process where we get in a room with a bunch of raw ingredients and liquid chocolate and test crazy (and sometimes brilliant) ideas.
Has the success of any flavour combination ever surprised you?
Jelly popping candy and beanies in Marvellous Creations is a totally different way to experience chocolate. You have the noise and crackle from the popping candy, chocolate within chocolate with the beanies and a really surprising and delightful ‘mouthfeel’ overall (which is some Flavourologist lingo for you).

What would you call yourself? Scientist? Chef? Artist?
I’m a marketing manager who doubles as a Flavourologist because the process of creating flavours is central to what I do. I have research and science teams that feed information into the creative process so that a select few of us Flavourologists can lock ourselves away in a secret bunker and eat chocolate all day. So I would say I’m a chocolate eating athlete slash artist slash connoisseur.

Describe the elements of the ultimate chocolate flavour combination?
With my Cadbury Flavourologist hat on I’d say a good flavour has to surprise and delight, but also appeal to a reasonable sized group of people. That’s where we have to be smart with our research and try to put ourselves in the shoes (or tastebuds) of a particular group. You pick up quirky insights as you do that. Personally I’m an absolute Black Forest tragic (like a lot of our Facebook fans). There’s something very satisfying about the juicy jellies that have a little bit of chewiness and the crunchy biscuit pieces that surprise you after you work through the delicious outer chocolate layers…. This is making me hungry by the way.

Mint, pop rocks or caramel?
Everything! Let’s see if it works.

How much chocolate do you eat per day?
That’s for me and my personal trainer to know and for no one to find out.

How long does it take to develop a chocolate bar from concept to customer's belly?

It can range from 12 to 24 months.

Are you looking for any chocolate eating interns? If so how would I one apply?

Only if you’ve got some bright ideas for us! We have a yearly graduate program that people can apply for via

Advice for anyone wanting to become a flavourologist?
Our Flavourologists come from different backgrounds, but mainly from research, scientific and marketing disciplines. My advice to anyone wanting to work with flavours is to a) go for a job where you’ll get exposure to the flavour creation process and b) get creative and trial things at home. Then make sure they’re good ideas, bring them to work and hopefully others will agree. You might want a friend to help you filter out the crazier ones along the way. I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends that began, ‘what if we mixed…how does this this genius or am I crazy’?

Chocolate hazelnut soufflé tarts
1 x portion chocolate pastry (I used Careme)
225g hazelnut chocolate
110g butter, chopped
2 small eggs
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
Melted good quality dark chocolate for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 190˚C (fan-forced). Grease and line 4-6 individual loose bottom pie tins. Roll over the chocolate pastry, cover with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking weights (or dried beans or rice), and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 180˚C (fan-forced), remove the weights from the pastry shell then bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the shell is just dry. To make the filling, heat the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir every now and again until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove and set aside to cool.

In another heatproof bowl, add the eggs, yolks and caster sugar, and place the bowl over the saucepan of just simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it’s thick and holds a trail when you move the whisk through the mixture. Pull the bowl off the heat and gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated.
Place the pastry shells on a baking tray then pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry shells. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes or until just set – you want the centre of the tart to be slightly soft and fudgy. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over melted chocolate if using. Alternatively serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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