BEIRUT: Chocolate enthusiasts seized every moment when visiting The Chocolate Hall factory for a tour to discover how their favorite treat is made.
Before roaming around the factory, attendees enjoyed a brief discussion about chocolate with the owner Tony Khairallah, where many myths were debunked.
“Chocolate is primarily healthy, but it is the unhealthy ingredients that are usually added to it that make it unhealthy. Palm oil, artificial colorants, and unnatural flavors make it unwholesome,” explained Khairallah.
He continued to recount the dangerous effects of palm oil. Although it’s rich in antioxidants, it contains high amounts of saturated fats, which in the worst cases can cause heart disease.
Trans fats are usually found in foods like pastries, French fries, doughnuts, and popcorn; they are banned in the US and Canada due to their dangerous effects on health.
As an alternative for chocolate spreads that contain palm oil, The Chocolate Hall has made two new recipes of chocolate spreads. One contains hazelnuts, almonds, milk and sugar; and another that contains the usual recipe but with 45 percent hazelnuts and no milk (suitable for lactose-intolerant people).
The discussion also tackled the issue of “dietary” products.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about sugar-free and fat-free products. Most sugar-free chocolate products contain a lot of fat and most fat-free chocolate products contain a lot of sugar. To sum up, beware to read the ingredients and nutrition facts so you know what you’re eating,” Khairallah said.
After the discussion, participants got to witness every stage of the chocolate-making process.
“What differs this factory from others is that we start our chocolate recipe from scratch; we don’t melt a chocolate bar and mold it again into pieces. We don’t use any artificial colorants or palm oil. As for the types, sizes, decorations, and flavors, the options are infinite,” Khairallah noted.
Chocolate lovers witnessed how the chocolate-making process is fully automated, which ensures hygienic safety.
“To me, chocolate is a sip of happiness and this tour is like a tour in paradise. It’s interesting because not only do you get to enjoy a live show of how the chocolate is made, but you also learn facts that can blow your mind,” said Gabriella Zaarour while indulging in a freshly prepared chocolate piece.
Although a chocolate souvenir won’t last long before reaching the belly, the tour ended with a workshop where kids and adults had the chance to craft their own chocolate token. Some made their own chocolate in a cup or in a lollipop, others made hot chocolate and created amazing chocolate drawings. Finally, they topped them with what satisfies their taste buds and ended the day with a sweet memory.
“This summer, I wanted my children to try different new activities. I loved the idea of a chocolate tour where they were able to learn, craft and buy mouth-watering products from The Chocolate Hall’s boutique,” said Loulou Daou who came with her two kids.
The Chocolate Hall is a Lebanese chocolate factory that took the initiative to show chocolate lovers the process of making chocolate live from the factory in Halat. Tailor-made for families, chocoholics, and anyone with an interest in food, the factory tours at the Chocolate Hall are conducted every Saturday; the entrance fee is only 5$.
“We have been welcoming Lebanese Scouts, school groups, families and teenage friends and the experience is heartwarming. Children spread an amazing vibe in the factory with their innocence and interest, and it’s always nice to see happy faces at the sight of chocolate,” Khairallah told Annahar.
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