If there was ever a chocolate diet, we'd be the first ones on it!
Safe to say, we take our chocolate very seriously. So when we heard news of an all-chocolate store called Aztec opening in Karachi, our sweet tooth radar immediately went on high alert.
Sorry boss, we have a meeting with Willy Wonka and we won't be back anytime soon.
Situated on Main Khaybane-e-Badar, Aztec promises sweet indulgence and chocolate at its finest. Hoping it lived up to its word, we swiftly made our way inside the little shop and only briefly stopped to feast our eyes on the colourfully packaged chocolates meticulously laid out in front of us.
A side glance at each other and a satisfied smile screaming 'Cha-ching!' later, we were gorging on decadent chocolate presented elegantly on small silver platters to us.
And would you believe it, we found the Promised Land.
"I've been wanting to [open a chocolate store] for a long time - I used to make handmade chocolates 17 years ago and sell them on occasions," a jaunty Naila Naqvi, the brains and CEO behind Aztec, tells us.
Offering 45 varieties of chocolates, many of which come in pairs of milk and dark, Naila explains that not all the chocolates required experimentation, like the mini-Oreos covered in chocolate. However, chocolates like The Pyramid, which is milk chocolate stuffed with feuilletine, brittle crispy flakes, and the Cheesecake, took quite a few trials to get right.
None of the chocolates contain local ingredients, Naila adds, and all of them are made abroad. "We worked with a Belgium supplier - the flavours and everything. They use the best Belgian chocolate."
It would be a sin to talk about the chocolate on offer and not let you in on our favourites. Here are our picks in order of the most loved.
1. Lotus Biscuit Milk
An absolute winner and not surprisingly, Naila's personal favourite from the lot. The Lotus Biscuit Milk is the love child of the widely popular Lotus Biscuit (a caramelised, crunchy biscuit) and milk chocolate. Yes. It's that simple.
One would expect the biscuit to be heavy, but the minute you bite into it, the camarelised biscuit splendidly melts in your mouth with the chocolate coating and leaves a feel-good taste. It's super light and if you're hoping one would be enough, you're wrong. Because the biscuit is so light, the rectangular bar can easily be broken into pieces and shared, which we did, but you should not! Do not share this chocolate!
2. Dragee Coffee
Can we just take a moment to say that the Dragee collection is flawless.
These tiny pellet-like chocolates pack some serious punch, especially the Dragee Coffee, which are coffee beans covered in milk chocolate. One would hesitate before biting into a solid coffee bean, however, the chocolate coating provides the needed sweetness and definitely gives you a kick - you'd be good just eating one and savouring it. Trust us.
The Heart is pure chocolate indulgence. If you're into rich chocolate with a creamy filling, then this is your best bet. The hard chocolate shell paired with a cream praline filling is enough to make any heart flutter. (Gosh, aren't we cheesy?)
Which brings us to our next favourite.
Honestly, we were eyeing this one from the start and we were so afraid this would be a disappointment but we were wrong. The Cheesecake chocolate actually tasted like cheesecake! We know. Surprising.
The cheesecake cream filling worked wonderfully with the hard chocolate coating. The filling even had a cheesecake-like consistency to it, which made the chocolate even more of a treat to eat.
This one intrigued us the most, mostly because of its name. Though it didn't taste anything like it, this cylindrical chocolate is a rolled wafer covered in milk chocolate. Again, super light, and the combination of the two — the crunch and flakiness of the wafer and the chocolate melting in your mouth — adds welcome texture to the chocolate.
Bonus: the wafar (like the Lotus biscuit) was not soft or soggy, it was actually crisp.
6. Milk Carre
Pure milk chocolate is a classic you can't go wrong with. Period.
7. Dark Carre
This one was dark, oh so dark and rich. We loved it. The Dark Carre with a hot cuppa would be divine right about now.
Even though Naila knows Pakistanis prefer milk chocolate above everything else, she made sure to include dark variations of as many chocolates as she could and boy are we glad she did.
8. Diet Dark Carre
First of all, kudos to the team for making chocolate for people with diabetes. The Diet Dark Caree is 85% dark and contains no sugar.
The chocolate surprisingly did not taste as bitter as we expected and was a little on the sweet side (a tad bit sweeter than the Dark Caree), but we savoured it nonetheless. Who are we to say no to good chocolate?
This without a doubt was the fanciest of the lot. Shaped like a pear and wrapped in a gold sheet, it was a treat to look at and unwrap. One of these and you're probably good for the day.
The hardened chocolate when bit into oozes a generous amount of milk cream filling in your mouth and you're left with the chocolate's hard texture, some truly rich cream as well as some crunch. Delicious.
10. Dragee Almond/Dragee Raisin
Like we said, you simply can't go wrong with the Dragee collection. It may seem basic but the quality of raisin and almond coupled with rich milk chocolate makes one go gaga. Sometimes it's all about enjoying the simple things.
To truly enjoy these treats, Naila lets us in on a care tip: Make sure the chocolate is room temperature before eating it, so you can savour its actual taste.
Having tried a bunch of Aztec chocolates, the only thing we're looking forward to? A spiced chocolate flavour.
Now, please excuse while we enjoy our chocolate coma.