This Valentine’s Day Meet The Willy Wonkas Of India Craft Architectural Chocolates, And Cake Art

  • 13 Feb '24
  • 1:44 pm by Satarupa Datta

The confluence of chocolates and architecture has existed for a long time. Making an appearance in Roald Dahl’s 1960s story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was made into a Tim Burton movie staging a paradisiacal cacao factory run by the confectioner extraordinaire Willy Wonka. In the 21st century, pastry chefs with their artistic experiments and culinary touches have broken moulds. In Netflix’s food series, The School of Chocolates, we saw Pastry chef Amaury Guichon coach the chocolatiers to model chocolate sculptures, monikered as edible illusions. Creating chocolate without an existing mould and turning it into an illusion requires immense skill and technique in the art of chocolate sculpting. That said, Indian pastry chefs and chocolatiers are not far behind in their endeavours to create theatrics through sculptural chocolates

Whether it is designing decadently contoured pastries of rich chocolate ganache, stunning chocolate sculptures, or hand-painted cakes akin to a painting on a canvas, these Indian Willy Wonkas are conceptualizing new forms, textures, flavours, and bringing cultural influences to the chocolate-making arena. DP brings together a list of contemporary Indian pastry chefs and brands taking art as a salient feature to craft patisserie and chocolatier to consult this Valentine’s Day. 


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Vanilla Miel’s signature hand-painted edible illustrations on entremets to create memories. (Image Credit: Vanilla Miel)

#1 Vanilla Miel Mumbai Creates Memories With Artsy Confections

The founder duo of Vanilla Miel, Isha and Mansi Shetty launched a designer cake delivery that brings simple ingredients to the fore – vanilla and honey to cherish memories with the comfort food one has grown up with. The end product is nothing less than an edible canvas which is why the head pastry chef Isha Shetty rightfully says, “Art is the central vein running through the ethos of Vanilla Miel.” Isha, a graduate of Le Cordon bleu and Les Roches Switzerland with promising stints in the Australian pastry industry decided to take her exploration of craft patisserie and chocolate to her homeland, India. Together with her sister, Mansi, a co-founder and the business head, they run the all-women cloud kitchen, a space where art, dessert and sisterhood flow. From layered entremets, and multi-textural tarts to artisanal nut loaves, tea cakes, jars of butter, craft chocolates, praline sticks, and spreads that unabashedly hero its ingredients, the kitchen creates an assortment of treats. Isha’s love for the French tart gave rise to the decadent Vanilla Miel’s tart collections that take on an experience of biting into silken textures & bright decadent fillings, often reiterating the story of the rich terroir. With locally sourced Ratnagiri Mangoes, Soleil is the French tart inspired by the rich juicy flavours of  summer mangoes which in design look like a bright ray of decadent sunshine.Isha says, “We respect the complexity of creating the simple, celebrating the elegance of seemingly effortless minimalism – reflecting nowhere more prominently than in our line of hand-painted desserts”. The rich emulsified ganache takes the form of a smooth canvas, a medium over which each stroke is permanent, void of the undo option – a testimony to the perfection and the exquisite execution of Vanilla Miel’s artistry in handpainted cakes. 


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These brush strokes of flavoured buttercream are executed in perfection like a painting on canvas elevating the moments of celebration. ( Image credit: Vanilla Miel)


The Valentine’s Week Special: Love Letter, a dark chocolate-heavy, multi-textured entremet ​completed with a crackly top of tempered chocolate resembling an envelope filled with 70% single origin chocolate from Saint Domingue, extra virgin olive oil from Greece & locally sourced sourdough bread. Order Now: Vanilla Miel

Chef Tejasvi Chandela reinvented the Rajasthan Ghevar into a French entremet layered in multiple textures and enrobed with a glaze akin to an art canvas. (Image credit: Dzurt Patisserie)

#2 Dzurt By Chef Tejasvi Chandela in Jaipur Reinvents Modern Patisserie That Incorporates Indian Mithais 

Dzurt Pâtisserie founded by Chef Tejasvi Chandela is the first French-style pastry store set up in Jaipur. Dzurt’s dessert creations combine traditional Indian ingredients, flavours, and techniques with French artistry. Chef Tejasvi Chandela, a Le Cordon Blue, and master in chocolate making from EPGB, Barcelona also co-founded All Things Chocolate, a 100% made-in-India, bean-to-bar chocolate brand which stands out for its chic packaging and unique flavour pairings. Her insatiable passion for fusing Indian and traditional metal techniques with modern pastry has resulted in desserts we never heard of in the Indian pastry business. She has put her pastry skills to the test to make a dainty array of choux pastry, buns, profiteroles and éclairs, filled with crème pâtissière, fruit and other seasonal Indian flavours— guava chilli petit gateaux on a gajak base, rose caviar paired with pistachio lamington with pistachio praline & soan papri are Instagram-famous.The showstopper to be on the cover of a food magazine is the Clementine & ghevar entremet which looks like a work of art. In various layers and textures, the dessert comes in an almond dacquoise sponge that is masked with a clementine veil and crowned in a circle of ghevar topped with vanilla & saffron mousse.


The Dzurt cafe in Jaipur and the new entry to the menu – boondi- lemon curd mousse tartlet and clementine ghevar petit gateau. Order Now: Dzurt Patisserie & Cafe

By employing techniques of mirror glazing, spray painting, high-brush strokes, shading and layering of colours, La Folie’s bonbons are designed as jewel-toned. ( Image Credit: La Folie)

#3 La Folie Mumbai Show Their Architectural Prowess in the Craft of Dessert Designing.

La Folie is another bean-to-bar project in Mumbai that is working to support a more sustainable chocolate industry, with a low carbon footprint. In crafting some of the most exquisite chocolate creations, Chef Sanjana Patel, the creative head aims to explore flavours of Indian cocoa in depth. Coming to designing handcrafted chocolates, La Folie is always ahead of the curve. Its new architecturally inspired chocolate bars take a sleeker, edgier design using moulds created by 3D printing. Their crowd-pleasers are the range of chocolate bonbons –  bite-size of a thin, crisp chocolate coating over a silky, soft centre that looks like miniature objects de art achieved by delving into geometry and design techniques of tessellation. These beauties are steeped with unique flavour pairings – the apple cider beer bonbons packed with citrus green apple cider gel and warm spiced beer ganache or the mint bonbon that combines rich chocolate infused with mint ganache and lemon verbena gel promise to be a party in the mouth. 

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This glorious creation spotlighted the relationship between the animals, humans and this fragile ecosystem and that which is interdependent. ( Image Credit: La Folie )

Chef Sanjana’s sculpted Bûche de noël which takes the form of a geometric Christmas yule log encased with tessellated triangles along the cake’s facade defines the melting glaciers and cracks across the Arctic ecosystem. Arctic animals made of white and milk chocolate cuttings rim the log. 


‘Bali’, its range of bonbons hand brushed with dotted orange, splashed with green – is vegan and dons sumptuous flavours and the crunch of black sesame. Order Now: La Folie

Chef Vinesh Johny’s love for Harry Porter and the World of Hogwarts inspires this chocolate showpiece. (Image Credit: Arjun at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts)

#4 Chef Vinesh Johny’s Sculptural Chocolates Are Both A Trick-&-Treat, Bangalore

Chef Vinesh Johny, a Bangalore boy who returned to India after many global stints in dessert making, started an international standard pastry school which was uncommon for India. His avant-garde chocolate creations speak for themselves and teach us that chocolate should be seen as an experience and not simply as a treat. He believes there is a huge potential to experiment with Indian sweets as every state showcases an array of signature mithai withs culinary roots in the royal homes of Maharajas. His modern interpretation of classic achappams dipped in hazelnut gianduja and dusted with toasted sesame is the Indian version of a bather fried rose-shaped mille-feuille.. What is head-turning in the Lavonne pastry school are those sculpture models carved out of melted chocolates by the students under the guidance of Chef Johny. The process is akin to architectural drawing and execution – it includes creating a blueprint, the chocolate base, melting, tempering it, texturing and giving it a form and lastly carving a design and filling it with edible colours forged with cocoa butter.  He works with themes that are inspired by the natural and manmade world.

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The chocolate fantasy forest where every element connects with the child’s imagination of the forest floor. ( Image Credit: Arjun at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts)

Chef Vinesh Johny has continued on his quest to elevate the country’s pastry scene, a mission well recognised when India scored a surprise silver medal in the global World Skills competition in 2017. Chef Johny has appeared on the first-ever ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ Asia list in the Arts category. His chocolate creations are playful, quirky, and supersede in storytelling that is nothing short of magical. The vintage clock and piano, the carnival, the space, The Giant and the Beanstalk and the Ramen-themed chocolate sculpture amassed more than 50k views on Instagram. 


The utopian Christmas Tree made with a three-tier slide that doubles as a marshmallow delivery system made entirely out of chocolate, aiming to drop each chocolate-encased marshmallow straight into the hot chocolate cup.  See it to believe it in Chef Vinesh Johnny’s IG feed. To get a sneak peek  of the cacao magic, head out for the Lavonne cafe with your valentine in Bangalore or order here: Lavonne Cafe

Eugénie orange blossom is a crunchy white chocolate shell and a hidden heart with orange blossom and Sicilian mandarin gel. ( Image Credit: Ladurée India)

#5 Ladurée Debut in India Brings a Slice of Paris’s ​​Haute Cafe Culture 

Anybody who is in love with Paris and on a stroll to the Champs-Elysées would have been introduced to the iconic Ladurée macarons. History says that in the mid-20th century, the inimitable Ladurée macaron debuted and since then the brand’s iconic status has only been on the rise. The latest delight Eugénie, a crunchy shortbread biscuit with a melting center and chunky chocolate coating is a great pick-me-up. It is available in twelve unique flavours. Eugénie is said to be “An unexpected wedding of textures in chocolate or fruity versions.”

Marie Antoinette features layers of Hazelnut dacquoise biscuit, milk chocolate ganache, and milk chocolate, and is beautifully decorated with white marzipan and sugar petals. (Image Credit: Laduree India)

In its design, Eugénie echoes the iconic macaron but inside the textures and flavours are poles apart. Laduree latest creation Eugénie is a celebration of the powerful female character, Empress Eugénie, a major figure of her time who questioned the cultural canons of the French. The good news is that Laduree outlets have been opened in Delhi, Gurgaon and the latest one in Mumbai at the Jio World Plaza. This Valentine’s Day don’t miss Ladurée’s limited editions, the heart-shaped ispahan and the Marie Antoinette plaisir sucre pastry. 


The chic Parisian gift set boxes whose original design was done by the artist Amandine Delaunay who drew her inspiration from jewellery. Order Now: Laduree India