Jean-Claude Petit puts a little Tobago love in homemade chocolate

Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sending this our way. Mouthwatering, indeed! Kinnesha George (Newsday) waxes poetic on Jean-Claude Petit’s artisanal chocolates at Tobago Chocolate Delights.

Like the rest of the world, Jean Claude Petit is learning to adapt. The owner and artisan chocolatier behind Tobago Chocolate Delights in Lambeau, Tobago, said his artisanal chocolate shop, opened in 2014, catered mainly to tourists. Now, because of the covid19 pandemic, he has been forced to shift his business strategy to target locals. “When I started, I was doing 80 per cent tourists and 20 per cent Tobagonians,” he said. The closure of TT’s borders has meant he has had to shift his focus. His chocolates are what he calls “bean to bar.”

“We roast the beans on site. We get the beans that have been sun-dried, we roast the beans, we separate the shells and the nibs, we grind the nibs, and we make chocolate liqueur, and that’s the start of making chocolate.”

Tobago Chocolate Delights, on the grounds of Shore Things Cafe, offers 30 varieties of chocolates, all with local fillings. He said 100 per cent local Trinitario cocoa is used. “I use mango, guava, pineapple, sorrel, passion fruit. Then I have flavoured chocolates amaretto, nutmeg, peppermint, cinnamon.

“These are in 65 per cent dark chocolates – the percentage means 65 per cent nibs, 35 per cent sugar. And I have 70 per cent bars, 80 per cent bars and 90 per cent bars, milk bars and white chocolate bars.” Neither artificial colours, flavours nor preservatives are used in Petit’s process. “We make what is called small batches so that they are sold out every day and it’s all handmade.”

Petit is TT-born, with French roots. A petrochemical geologist by profession, he said he worked in the oil industry for over 20 years in TT and abroad. His decision to get into the chocolate-making business was inspired by a visit to a chocolate factory in Florida, where he lived at the time. He enrolled in a school in Orlando to learn the art. “Once my children were finished with high school, I decided I was going back home. I remember coming back here, I remember I wanted to do chocolates. I met a gentleman by the name of Clement Bobb – and he is one of the most knowledgeable guys in Tobago in terms of cocoa. We started talking and I say, ‘Maybe I’ll do it here.’ The rest is history.”

Petit said the business has allowed him to marry all his skills. “I like cooking, I’m a scientist by nature and believe it or not, chocolate-making has a lot of science in it. I used to draw a lot…so I am using a lot of the skills I have.”

His line of chocolate creations certainly hit the sweet spot as the flavour of the cocoa is intense in each bite. Deep richness and an amenable bitterness are followed by a slight sweetness on the tongue. The chocolate is as soothing as it is delicious – a hard shell on the outside but chewy on the inside.

What’s his top seller? “Caramel with sea salt,” he said, “Locally grown-caramel with Himalayas pink sea salt. “A big favourite also is the guava jelly, because guava jelly in chocolates really tastes good. And we do a special Tobago rum cream.”

The shop also features products such as soaps, lotions and herbal teas made from chocolate and coffee, manufactured by other entrepreneurs from Tobago.

Tobago Chocolate Delights also does custom orders for events and special occasions. Tobago Chocolate Delights can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

For original article, see

Tobago Chocolate Delight: How local chocolate is made
Trinbago Vibes, January 16, 2021

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