Rating: ★★★★★

Address: Unit B&D, 88-102 Ivy Street, Tai Kok Tsui 大角咀埃華街88-102號B&D舖

Telephone: 2789 1330

By Invitation – Thank you black n white for inviting me to this chocolate-filled tasting!

Having gone through a few rather excruciating weeks at work, there was nothing that cheered me up more than the invitation to a dessert-filled afternoon at black n white, an up-and-coming dessert cafe in Tai Kok Tsui.

Being a HK-Islander myself, my venture zone in Kowloon is usually limited to Elements and 1km within the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. However, I was completely surprised by how easy it was to get to Tai Kok Tsui – I took the MTR to Olympic station, came out of Exit B, turned left on the footbridge, walked down the stairs on the right hand side and voilà, I arrived in a dessert emporium!

Co-owner Chef Jeffrey Koo is somewhat of a local celebrity, and boasts an impressive profile: he has worked in the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop for 13 years, won a range of awards along his career path, and has spent time training with Pierre Gagnaire in France, before opening this cafe in December 2011.  Many Hong Kongers would recognise him as the host of the TVB seriesSweet Corner” (“甜心先生“), in which he taught celebrities how to prepare a selection of chocolates and desserts.

Having spent years at the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop, Jeffrey likes to create spectacular, complicated cakes which are displayed all over his cafe.

Jeffrey has opened his own culinary school in Kwun Tong, CHEFS (Chocolate & Culinary School), where classrooms are furnished with the newest and most sophisticated baking equipment and classes are taught by Jeffrey himself. It seems like the perfect place for us foodies to learn how to make a macaron or two for our loved ones! As Jeffrey is so keen to share his knowledge of desserts with everyone, he has drawn diagrams on the walls of the cafe, explaining the different layers and ingredients in his cakes!

(1) Jeffrey insists on using the finest Venezuelan chocolates in his desserts, as these exquisite chocolates give a sensuous, delicious aftertaste. I was fortunate enough to start my tasting with this Grand Marnier Chocolate Opera Cake ($45), and at first bite I already knew that this cake was enough reason for me to come back to the cafe. This set below was a Grand Marnier Opera Dessert Set ($68), and it came with a small cup of icy Grand Marnier granita which you could sip while enjoying the decadent opera cake.

Even though Jeffrey loves his desserts, he is aware that sometimes indulging in more than one piece of such relish can be quite filling, and therefore he prefers to use a lot of sponge cake layers, which means you can eat more than one piece of cake without being overly full! Layered with orange zest butter cream, Grand Marnier chocolate ganache, blood orange jelly, vanilla sponge and chocolate sponge, the opera cake was, quite literally, intoxicatingly delicious…and if you are a coffee addict like I am, they also have a Rum and Coffee Opera Cake available. 

(2) This N-I (Vanilla Napoleon) ($38) is another signature dessert at black n white. A layer of caramelized puff pastry helped break up the soft textures of crème Chantilly, vanilla custard and chocolate sponge, and the dessert held together to give a marvellous variety of flavours and textures.

(3) I am very attracted to anything salted caramel-flavoured, from the salted caramel ice cream at Teakha to the salted caramel Mille Feuille at Passion by Gérard Dubois, and this Salted Caramel Mousse Crumble ($40) was an absolute winner for me! 

An ornate white chocolate dome sat on top of some creamy Himalayan Pink Salted Caramel Mousse. A touch of saltiness penetrated the sweetness of this dessert, while its texture was enhanced by the crunch of coffee and almond crumble. If you love salted caramel desserts, then this is just a dessert made in heaven!

(4) This beautiful Cassis Marshmallow ($40) had a mélange of magnificent textures – the softness of marshmallows, the crunchiness of meringue, the smoothness of cassis mousse and the silkiness of white chocolate mousse. The cassis (blackcurrant) gave natural sweetness to the dessert, and the meringues and marshmallows were both delicious and comforting at the same time!

 

(5) This Dark Chocolate 72% ($48) was a cup of exquisite chocolatey goodness. A piece of dark, velvety chocolate sat on top of the cup, while layers of dark chocolate mousse provided a symphony of rich flavours.

(6) When it comes to the gelato counter, Jeffrey is able to have some fun with the ingredients!

He playfully created a Chinese almond (南北杏) gelato (left) – you know, the Chinese almonds that are used to make soup – and it tasted fresh and bright, with a perceptible almond flavour. Jeffrey explained that essential oils are sometimes used in other restaurants to flavour ice creams, and while the essential oils give a strong aroma, they will result in a weird feeling on the tongue after you finish eating. Jeffrey only uses fresh ingredients in his gelato, and the resulting flavours are amazing! Besides the Chinese almonds gelato, I also tried the caramel gelato (middle), which had cocoa bean bits in it, giving it more of a bite. The passion fruit sorbet (right), which was mixed with some white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate bits, was light and refreshing. Lastly, that piece of almond cookie is worth a mention. Fantastically buttery and crunchy with a strong almond taste, you could use it to scoop your ice cream instead of using a metal spoon!

(7) Even though I have gulped down many delightful desserts, I decided to ingest even more sugars by trying their signature hot chocolate, Sinking Island ($38), which comes in 3 different flavours: white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate (72%).   

This was definitely a cup of hot chocolate that had a lot going on! The delicate, artistic chocolate dome was specially handmade, and you are supposed to put the chocolate dome on top of the hot, freshly made chocolate drink and watch it slowly sink into the “ocean” (you should have guessed by now why this drink is called “Sinking Island“!) I went for the milk chocolate flavour, which was rather sweet, so if you want something which is not incredibly sweet you should go for dark chocolate!

(8) My dessert stomach seemed to have an unlimited capacity, so as a final treat, I tried black n white‘s house made Matcha Latte (Hot/ Cold, $32). Ever since my visit to Urth Cafe in Los Angeles in May 2012, I simply could not get enough of green tea lattes, so I was really happy that the Matcha Latte at black n white was so yummy, with the combination of aromatic green tea and hot, frothy milk giving an attractive, soothing taste.

If these utterly indulgent desserts are not enough to tempt you, black n white is also introducing its homemade Red Date Scones and Red Date Jam, using the finest red dates from Xinjiang (新疆), as part of its upcoming Christmas selection. Scone-lovers, here’s something to mark in your diary! 

Conclusion: The way local establishments, such as black n white, introduce Chinese ingredients into quintessentially European desserts never fail to bring a smile to my face. Chef Jeffrey Koo is not afraid to use imaginative flavours in his desserts, and I was delighted to be able to try his thoughtful, innovative creations. I only hope his staff don’t get freaked out by how often I plan to come back here!