Buvette Masthead

Enigma: Canberra chocolate for Easter

Natassja Hoogstad Hay

My love affair with chocolate has been going for a very long time now.

As a teenager, I’d sometimes cajole my dad into driving me to the shops late at night so I could pick up a family size block of Cadbury just before the shops closed at midnight.

Now, I usually have a stash of some kind in my desk at work. A couple of squares of dark chocolate are my favourite afternoon pick me up.

With my long history of chocoholism, I was very excited to speak to creator of Enigma Chocolates, Stuart Strutt-Shotton, and to try a few of his chocolates, which looked amazing from the photos I’d seen.

Stuart with his creations

Working in between a day job as chef at Glasshouse Café in Civic, all of Enigma Chocolate’s creations are hand made in Stuart’s small kitchen in his Lyneham home.

A regular at the Kingston Bus Depot Markets since June this year, Stuart has spent the last few months testing different types of chocolates and getting to know his customers.

Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, Stuart learnt the chocolate trade from chocolatier Paul A Young in London, who owns a boutique handmade chocolate shop. The dream (eventually) is a similar set up to that of Paul A Young, selling hand made chocolates, where people can come along and watch chocolate being made in store.

enigma stall

Stuart’s stall at the Old Bus Depot Markets

For now though, it’s creating new flavours and speaking to customers at the markets, along with custom orders for weddings, engagement parties and corporate events.

It’s clear from chatting to Stuart that he really knows his stuff.

Talking directly to customers at the markets means he can “get them out of the idea that it’s just dark, milk and white” and explain more about where the cocoa is from and the influence this has on the chocolate’s flavour.

The single origin chocolate Stuart uses (chocolate from one place, in a similar vein to coffee), tastes different depending not just on the percentage of cocoa, but also where in the world it’s grown.

Butterscotch popcorn truffles

Butterscotch popcorn truffles

The chocolate Stuart uses is beautiful, creamy, Valrhona Chocolate from France. While he doesn’t make the actual chocolate himself, his truffles and chocolate bars are all hand-tempered and moulded, and although the chocolate might be imported, Stuart is incorporating local ingredients and flavours into the chocolate where he can. So far he’s used local popcorn, honey, berries, and Ona Coffee in various creations.

At his last stall Stuart had about 20 flavours of chocolate bars and 12 truffles to choose from. He admits that he’s highly influenced by what customers ask for, so if there’s a flavour you want, ask and he might make it for you! Flavours like mint, chilli and coffee, he says, have all been inspired by customer requests.

In addition to getting that local flavour into his chocolates, Stuart says he wants to keep things interesting.

“It’s good to keep people on their toes a little bit, using flavours that people aren’t normally used to or expecting.”

Crowd favourite truffles include burnt honey caramel (a twist on salted caramel), champagne, butterscotch popcorn and lamington.

If you want to go a little more adventurous, you could try the 66% Caraïbe (dark) spiced with chipotle chillies, or the peanut butter and jam toast truffle.

66 Caraïbe spiced with Chipotle

66 Caraïbe spiced with Chipotle

If you do spot Stuart, however, make sure you try the 100% truffle, made with Venezuelan origin Willie’s Cacao.

Although it sounds like it could be horribly bitter, it’s sweetened by a little bit of agave syrup, and using Stuart’s signature ganache made with water (rather than cream or butter), you’re just left a rich, intense chocolate flavour that’s not too sweet. My other favourites were the raspberry cream and passionfruit filled truffles, but I’m a bit of a sucker for fruit centres.

Once again, Canberra shines as a fantastic place to start up a new business. “To do something like this down in Melbourne or Sydney it’d probably be a lot more of a struggle. Because there’s nothing really like it here in Canberra it’s been a really good market to get into,” says Stuart.

Enigma_1 (003)

Stuart has been busily preparing for Easter 2016, with a range of amazing and unique Easter treats for sale at the Old Bus Depot Markets this Easter Sunday.
Enigma Easter2
Treat include mini Easter bunnies in a range of cocoa strengths as well as white, hazelnut, milk and even popcorn! There will also be the classic Easter eggs in a range of sizes and flavours, as well as small whole eggs, larger half filled eggs with toasted coconut and unique hot cross bun truffles.
Enigma Easter1
“In addition to our Easter treats, we’re back with our range of classic truffles including popular flavours like burnt honey caramel, champagne and our 40%, 70% and 100% cocoa. We’ll also have all our popular bars made using Valrhona chocolate,” explains Stuart. Watch out for Enigma Chocolates at one last market stall this month on 24 October before the summer heat sets in. Stuart promises he’ll be back next year after a summer spent refining and developing even better chocolatey treats.
Enigma Easter3
the essentials
What: Enigma Chocolates What: Enigma Chocolates
When Easter Sunday, 27 March When Sunday 24 October
Where: Old Bus Depot Markets Where: Old Bus Depot Markets
Web: facebook.com/enigma.chocolates


Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Natassja Hoogstad Hay is a communications professional working in Canberra. An unashamed foodie, she loves cooking and going out to eat, and has a special love of coffee and wine. She’s obsessed with social media (handy in her field!) and is working on perfecting her Instagram game. In her spare time you might find her at a yoga class, cosied up on the couch with a book or the TV, or outside taking photos of beautiful Canberra sunsets. More about the Author