By Natasya Rallios
Photos Leon Shoots and Thomas Barnes
Deniz Karaca started his career at 16 as an apprentice at the esteemed Cron & Lanz patisserie in Göttingen, Germany and developed his own unique style making pastries and desserts. Since then, he has worked at a number of prestigious restaurants, hotels and chocolateries around the world.
“My two passions in life are wine and chocolate. I spent most of my career in hospitality developing my chocolate skills and I eventually learnt how to make chocolate from scratch by experimenting on my own,” he said.
After working as a pastry chef and chocolatier for almost twenty years, it was natural for Deniz to create and sell his own chocolate and open his own workshop with his wife Kylie.
“We founded Cuvée Chocolate from our kitchen base in 2014. At first it was a hobby, but our premises kept growing and in time we built a chocolate facility in Carrum Downs. We produce all of our chocolate in – house with cocoa beans, that are sustainably grown, sourced from all around the world’ said Deniz.
Deniz and Kylie sell their handmade chocolate Australia-wide and you can place an order on their website. They offer a range of dark, milk and white chocolate flavours.
“We started supplying to restaurants this year and we work closely with a lot of wineries and restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula. Local wine makers are delighted to put our chocolates alongside their wines. It’s also great to see restaurants using the flavours of our chocolate in their featured desserts,” said Deniz.
His genuine passion and creative approach to desserts has won Deniz many awards. In 2013 he represented Australia and was ranked among the top three in the World Chocolate Masters in Paris. The renowned international competition invites the world’s best pastry chefs to represent their countries and unveil their talent to a global audience.
“I had to qualify to take part in the competition and I competed against twenty-two other nations. One of the assignments for the competition was to create a chocolate sculpture and bring a unique flavour from our nation.
“I thought that this was a great opportunity for me to showcase an Australian wine. I paired up with South Australian wine maker Penfolds and created a sculpture that matched all of my chocolates to their famous wines,” he said.
Being a Master Pastry Chef, Deniz’s accolades include Australian Patissier of the Year 2016, #1 Chocolatier in Australia and Asia in 2012 and 2013, and in 2017 he appeared as a guest chef on Masterchef Australia as part of a pressure test elimination where contestants had to reproduce his “Passion for Caramel” tart.
Deniz is committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise with the next generation of pastry chefs and has served on the industry advisory boards for Holmesglen and William Angliss Institute.
“It’s really important to train local students and provide them with more experience. I’ve seen the challenges that the industry has faced with COVID-19.
Most international workers have gone back to their countries overseas and our locals don’t have the same expertise. Kylie and I regularly open our kitchen and offer masterclasses and internships to TAFE students in addition to the qualification they’re pursuing so they can broaden their knowledge and learn about how chocolate is made. The students gain more respect for the ingredients and the process of making chocolate,” said Deniz.
With every Cuvée chocolate bar that you purchase you’ll receive a suggested wine pairing. Deniz said that matching wine with chocolate is all about finding the right balance and it can be complimentary or contrasting.
“My favourite is a 75% dark chocolate with a glass of Australian Shiraz. Another wonderful match is a milk chocolate and a glass of rosé. It depends on the season and the occasion. I have to admit, though, that nothing beats Friday night Netflix with chocolate and wine,” he said with a laugh.
A lot of customers have said that what makes Cuvée chocolate special is that the chocolate is made the old school way and it isn’t sweet or bitter.
“We get really excited when we see our customers enjoying and appreciating our Cuvée chocolate.”
White Chocolate & Ginger Crème Brûlée
Yields approximately 8 brûlée
- 370g cream
- 150g egg yolk
- 70g Cuvée Bianco 30% White Chocolate
- 5g ground ginger
- 80g caster sugar
Start by breaking your Bianco white chocolate bar into small pieces, roughly the size of five cent pieces or smaller and place them into a bowl.
Add the cream, egg yolk and ginger into a small bowl and combine with a whisk.
Over a hot water bath and whilst constantly stirring, heat this mix to 82˚C, but be careful not to overheat as this will curdle your egg yolks and ruin the brûlée.
Pour the hot mixture through a fine strainer or sieve over the chocolate bits and leave it to melt for 1-2 minutes before thoroughly combining with a whisk.
Fill the brûlée mix into shallow, wide dishes and place them into an oven tray filled about 10mm high with water.
Cook in the oven at 110˚C, uncovered for approx. 30minutes (you know whether the brûlée is cooked or not if you shake the dish lightly and there is little to no movement on the surface).
Just before serving, sprinkle the brûlée with caster sugar and caramelize using a blowtorch.
For an extra crunchy top, burn the layer of caster sugar and then sprinkle with sugar again and burn a second time!