500 years of Calvin celebrated in chocolate

Something from Switzerland to sweeten your election eve:

Swiss chocolatier Blaise Poyet believes he has captured the essence of the Protestant reformer Jean Calvin in special chocolate pralines he created to mark the 500th anniversary of the religious figure who made his mark on European history.

“It’s not easy to represent theological ideas by using the taste buds,” acknowledges Poyet, a master chocolatier from Maison Poyet in Vevey, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Geneva, where the French-born reformer lived and worked. “But the key thing for Calvin is the glory of God, his excellence, his perfection. So we chose a chocolate that we chocolatiers find exceptional, rare and flawless.”

The chocolates were unveiled in Geneva on 2 November after a ceremony to launch a year called “calvin09” to mark the 500th anniversary in 2009 of Calvin’s birth, along with other products and events intended to capture the life and spirit of Calvin.

Here are the ingredients that make the chocolates especially “Calvin.”

The first layer is based on a classic smooth and runny praline mix. “But we have ‘reformed’ it,” says the Vevey chocolatier, by using crunchy caramelised hazelnuts, and using salt from the Swiss Alps to make the praline slightly savoury.

The second layer uses a “chocolate Grand Cru from Bolivia”, made from 68 percent cocoa paste, to represent Calvin’s theology of the glory and perfection of God.

“It is a real pleasure,” Poyet says of the Bolivian chocolate. “Paradise indeed.”

Some historians have noted Calvin was not always an easy person, yet “it is undeniable that in his actions, he demonstrated exceptional tenderness,” recounts Poyet. “So we have used a caramel made from Swiss cream that that slightly softens the chocolate to represent in a discreet way this love for one’s neighbour.”

Finally, a taste of lemon verbena, a perennial, represents Calvin’s ability to sow, to plant and to make things grow.

Read it all here.

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