Dubai’s newest craze: Camel milk chocolate
Ever have a candy bar made of delicious camel milk chocolate? Or how about a glass of refreshing camel milk? Over in the United Arab Emirates, several firms — including a company owned by the Emir of Dubai — are betting gourmands will go crazy for them.
Al-Nassma, founded in 2008 by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has launched a campaign to sell European, North American and Chinese wholesalers on the virtues of camel milk chocolate. As with all things in Dubai, the company does not do novelty food marketing on a budget: the firm owns a farm of 3000 camels and is expecting to produce 100 tons of premium chocolate annually. Rather than producing budget Hershey’s or Cadbury’s-style bars, Al-Nassma is instead producing high-end bars with flavorings such as coriander and dates.
Meanwhile, two companies are applying for permission to export camel milk to the European Union.
If all goes well, Al Ain Dairy’s “Camelait” and the Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products’ “Camelicious” will be on European shelves in 2011. Camel milk is a popular drink in the United Arab Emirates and in some other parts of the Middle East: Camelicious produces 5000 liters a day.
Camel milk tastes largely similar to cow’s milk but has vastly more vitamin C and insulin.
A major selling point in efforts to market camel milk to Europe, China and North America is the beverage’s lack of lactose: Lactose intolerance-sufferers can drink camel milk with no problems at all.
This reporter has sampled camel milk before. While it does not taste unpleasant, it’s not going to go in his fridge anytime soon.
But the important question: How does camel milk chocolate taste?
The good people at Candyblog gave it a try:
The Whole Milk Camel Milk Bar is nicely molded and tempered. It’s quite a dark looking milk chocolate bar. It has a distinct, thick snap to it.
The flavor is immediately a bit salty to my tongue. The caramel flavors are noticeable as is the smooth texture but still on the rustic side. It’s not quite fudgy but also not completely slick or oily like some milk chocolates. It’s sweet but also well rounded with toasted notes and maybe a hint of malt and cheese. The ingredients on all bars list honey, though it’s far down on the list and I didn’t really get the honey notes here. The chocolate flavors are mild but more to the malt and woodsy side of things than raisins/berries or coffee.
But standing in the way of Al-Nassma’s cornering of the gourmet chocolate market is one thing: Dubai (and the Emirates) lack a processing facility for high-end chocolate. Al-Nassma sends shipments of camel milk to Vienna, where high-end manufacturer Manner processes the chocolate and sends the bars back to Dubai to have flavoring added.
Al-Nassma is opening retail outlets throughout the UAE and is beginning to sell their chocolates through retailers such as Harrods in London; Americans eager to give camel milk chocolate a shot can contact San Francisco store Chocolate Covered, who already stock them.
Sheikh al-Maktoum, Al-Nassma’s founder, is widely believed to have causd Dubai’s economic meltdown through his poor business decisions.