Every Friday afternoon here in the AHA loft, we gather around for a fika – aka coffee break. The national habit of fika is one of the wonderful things our founder Shauna Mei picked up during her time in Sweden, (the others being fabulous products), where the world stops at 3 pm everyday for a 20 min time-out of chitchat and caffeine. An authentic fika is always accompanied by something sweet, and our hands-down favorite treat is the Four Elements Chocolates from –wouldn’t you know it- Fika Choklad, a Swedish café in NYC with its own one-man chocolate factory.
As created by Håkan Mårtensson, Fika’s resident chocolatier and pastry chef—he’s a sort of Swedish Willy Wonka transported to New York City—these truffles, each of which takes three days to make, ingeniously evoke earth, wind, fire and water.
Earth is simulated by a, well, earthy-tasting and rich hazelnut gianduja. Wind combines four different liquors (Baileys, Kahlua, Frangelico and Amaretto), for an effect akin to that of being at the center of four winds blowing from four different directions—what Mårtensson calls “a tornado of flavors.” Fire tastes first of cinnamon then of Tabasco; the latter seems to run down the throat like a (gentle!) stream of lava. And water is a gloriously smooth caramel topped with sea salt; its sweet saltiness explodes in the mouth like a wave.
The Four Elements look as distinctive as they taste, making them the perfect finish to an elegant dinner party. Earth is a mottled brown color, like the earth in a garden. Wind is depicted by a swirl of white on the mound of chocolate. Fire is streaked with yellow and red. And water is white chocolate with a wash of blue.
Looking at them, it’s evident that Mårtensson isn’t kidding when he says that his chocolates must look as good as they taste. “You eat with your eyes,” he says. “It should be an experience for all of your senses.”