Interview – Kate from the Mallow Tailor

What got you interested in chocolate?

It’s no secret but Janet and I (Kate) who run The Mallow Tailor love chocolate and art, so wanted to combine these together to make something really special. How many times do we all buy something that looks great and tastes disappointing, or tastes great but looks unappealing? Having experienced this ourselves, we set our benchmark very high to ensure our chocolates not only look the part but also deliver on taste. Never having made chocolates (apart from truffles occasionally for friends), we started right at the beginning and learnt how to mould chocolates, developed our fillings and added an artistic twist and since then we’ve not looked back. Chocolate has always been our indulgence of choice, but now it’s our best friend.

When did you first make chocolate?

I first made boozy chocolate truffles about 8 years ago and have been making marshmallow for friends for 15 years. I am an awful cook, so would entice friends over with my sweet treats rather than my usual burnt offerings. Janet on the other hand is a great cook but had no experience of making chocolate or marshmallow. Between us, we made our first batch of moulded chocolates in December 2018 and then spent 4 months perfecting our technique and fillings and launched our business in March 2019.

The Mallow Tailor - Marshmallow chocolates range

How was your first attempt at making chocolate? 

Before we started making chocolates professionally, we had both given up our present careers so knew there was a lot riding on getting it right. We initially attempted to dip marshmallow and salted caramel into melted chocolate which was challenging to say the least, the product tasted great, but we realised we would struggle to scale this up. Our first attempts at moulding chocolate were frustrating with not achieving the right shell thickness and chocolates not coming out the moulds – we learnt so much more from what we’ve got wrong rather than what we got right.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

We only buy high quality ingredients and source locally where we can. We use Callebaut chocolate which is one of the best chocolates in the world. We make our salted caramel filling with Welsh dragon butter and double cream, and flavour with Halen Mon Sea Salt – these local ingredients make the texture and flavour something else. Our marshmallow is infused using loose tea from our local tea emporium in Brecon. We are very lucky living in Wales as there are so many great products you can buy and we try and reflect this in our chocolates. We don’t use any preservatives or artificial flavours in our products so what you taste is 100% real.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products? 

We are a very young company but have drawn in much interest and received endorsements from food professionals and fantastic reviews from customers. We provided wedding favours for our first wedding job which created quite a storm (in a positive way!) which was a very proud moment for us. We’ve also exhibited at the Royal Welsh Show and have been successful in getting a place at the Abergavenny Food Festival so a lot to smile about in 5 months!

The Mallow Tailor - Sea Salt Caramel chocolates range resized

What’s your best-selling product?

Our Caramallow in milk chocolate is our best selling product, along with our Salted Caramel in dark chocolate. Our Caramallow is made up of 2 layers of marshmallow with salted caramel on top which people love. Our salted caramel chocolate is a firm favourite with our vegetarian customers.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Producing chocolate and marshmallow in a sustainable way, without giving on quality and taste. I’m also very proud of our website, having designed and built it.

What are your ambitions for the future?

We want to be well established in and outside of the UK and to be successful in supplying our products to at least one of the prestigious UK retailers. Our production is currently done at home, so would like to expand our manufacturing capability away from home and build a team of great chocolatiers/mallow makers.

What’s your mission statement?

To be an internationally recognised artisan that makes the one of the best artisan chocolates and marshmallow and to be a company that people really enjoy dealing with.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Oh god, there are so many! I love the Little Welsh Chocolate Company’s milk chocolate and orange bars of chocolate – they are super smooth and the orange works perfectly with the milk chocolate. Janet loves Lindt chocolate and enjoys the pick and mix counter (too much!) – her favourite filling is orange. So it looks like orange wins here eh?!  Maybe we should develop some orange chocolates, there’s an idea…

The Mallow Tailor will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival with their range of filled chocolates, but if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on some you can order from their website by clicking here.

Interview – Amanda from Langley’s Rocky Road

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What got you interested in chocolate?

At birth I think – I have always loved chocolate.

When did you first make chocolate?

I started to make my product when I adopted my 2 children and it quickly became a family favourite, always made on special occasions and a firm favourite at the office.

How was your first attempt at making chocolate?

Like a beginner, awful now I look back but also a really important part of my journey.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I love to use local ingredients where I can, there is nothing quite like Cornish seasalt and combined with lime (a childhood flavour) makes for my surprise flavour.

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Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I have come into the industry as a complete beginner, I love the reaction that I get from my customers and the lovely comments always make everything worthwhile.  I love the thought that I am inspiring my children to be entrepreneurial and to do what they love.  The seven Taste of the West awards in my first year of trading have been the icing on the cake.

What’s your best-selling product?

Lime & Seasalt has now overtaken my classic Orange.  I love this as it is a flavour inspired by my Dad and his loves, so has real meaning for me.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Actually starting my business – it was hard to leave my career as a Solicitor where I had been Managing Partner of a firm which I have seen through a merger of 4 practices.  To change to doing something so creative was a big decision but I love what I do, the challenges and rewards.

What are your ambitions for the future?

To develop as a business – I would love to grow and to be able to pass my passion on to other people.

What’s your mission statement?

As a small business its really simple – to produce the best product I can to delight my customers.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

One of the things I love about chocolate is its diversity – so I don’t have a favourite and it very much depends on my mood.  I love to try new flavours and to be surprised!  My most recent delight was a Ruby Chocolate with a lemon centre – delicious!

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Amanda will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival in November, and at the Torbay Chocolate Festival next April. But, if you can’t wait that long to get your hands on some of her award-winning Rocky Road, you can buy on her website by clicking here!

 

Salcombe Dairy – From Ice Cream to Bean-to-Bar Chocolate!

History

Salcombe Dairy has been making artisan ice-cream in South Devon for forty years – and celebrated this milestone birthday in June 2019. The alchemistic factory has been at the heart of the town’s meteoric rise in popularity as Devon’s most stunning holiday destination. Still based on Island Street where all of the ice-cream is made, Salcombe Dairy is well known for deliciously indulgent ice-cream made only from natural ingredients, as well as a range of natural sorbets. Salcombe Dairy has been proudly making scrumptious ice-cream in this beautiful place since 1979, using local cream combined with the best recipe ingredients we can source locally and around the world – to create one of the Great Taste top fifty foods in Britain.
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Awards

Salcombe Dairy’s ice cream, sorbets and now chocolate have won more than sixty Great Taste, Taste of the West and Food & Drink Devon awards. That’s a lot of trophies! Blush. The secret to our success is staying modest and always striving for perfection – for example it took us over a year to perfect the recipe for our new Salcombe gin sorbet, and a new product is never launched until the entire production and tasting team are 100% happy with it!

Ethics

We’re a small company with a big heart. We have a very loyal team of workers livin’ the dream of working in an ice cream and chocolate factory in Devon…so when you eat our products you know that they have been made in Salcombe with love and care – using cream from the local farm. All of our chocolate and ice creams are made in a factory which is entirely nut free, palm oil free and egg free. We will never use any artificial ingredients – everything we make is 100% natural. That’s probably why customers have been asking for our ice cream consistently for the past forty years!
We are striving to leave a lighter footprint in the beautiful part of the planet we work in – and are always trying to source less single use plastic packaging and consumables, and more reusable and recyclable and now compostable packs.

Non-Dairy

We recognise that vegan and dairy-free connoisseurs still love high quality chocolate and ices! Our range of dark chocolate is dairy free and suitable for vegans as well as being indulgent and sumptuous…and we even make a chocolate sorbet.
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Chocolate

Our new baby is bean-to-bar chocolate, launched in Spring 2018. We source organic, fairly traded cacao from the Peruvian rainforest and melange the nibs in Salcombe with raw cane sugar before conching, tempering and moulding into chocolate of the highest quality to make outstanding chocolate in a spectrum of flavours our fans rave about. In the 19th Century, Salcombe was a busy trading port for ships carrying fruit, cocoa, sugar and rum. At the mouth of the estuary lies The Bar, a sand spit mentioned in Tennyson’s famous poem ‘The crossing of the bar’ so it seemed appropriate to call our chocolate The Bar, and mirror in chocolate all of our ice-cream flavours for which we are famous.
We’ve already won a Great Taste Gold award for our dark chocolate ginger, and the milk chocolate with Devon sea salted caramel is popular. Chocolate enables us to keep our trusty Oompa Loompas busy during the winter when customers are eating less ice-cream – so it makes us more sustainable as a business too!
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Feedback

Tell us what you think! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Exeter Chocolate Festival and are always keen to hear feedback on our chocolate or hear your requests for new flavours!
Lucy and Dan Bly
Email: dan.bly@salcombedairy.co.uk
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Chocolate Making with the Exeter Cookery School

Working in chocolate has it’s perks, and one such perk I was fortunate enough to enjoy recently was a visit to the Exeter Cookery School to participate in one of their half day chocolate making and tempering workshops.

The course is advertised on the cookery school’s website as “two and a half hours of pure wicked indulgence”. That it certainly was! The chocolate got everywhere, in my hair, under my fingernails and on my face. I am certainly not complaining, as a practising chocoholic, I took every opportunity for some sneaky finger-licking.

The Exeter Cookery School is situated on Exeter’s quayside. Founded by Jim and Lucy Fisher, it has been offering cooking classes and courses since 2016. Jim was a fantastic host on the chocolate making workshop. He was both knowledgeable and encouraging while keeping the session at a good pace, and everyone laughing and enjoying themselves throughout.

Jim took us through the whole process of making a filled chocolate from start to finish. Step-by-step we made our own little bonbons under his excellent guidance and he willingly jumped in to perform the occasional rescue! We started by exploring the moulds used for filled chocolates, discussing where to purchase them, and cleaning techniques to ensure the best shine on the finished chocolates. We then learnt how to melt and colour cocoa butter to create a shimmery design which we painted onto the inside of the mould.

After this came the tempering. This was the part I was most looking forward to, as having dabbled at home (rather unsuccessfully), I was keen to learn from a professional and go away with some techniques that would be easy for me to continue with solo. Jim was very happy to answer my many questions, and I came away with what I believe to be a foolproof method… watch this space!

Using the dark chocolate (which we tempered ourselves), we created a thin shell inside the mould ready for the caramel filling. The shells were cooled and then the filling was piped in, cooled once more and then capped off with the remaining melted and tempered chocolate.

But of course, the most exciting part of the morning by far, was tipping the finished chocolates out of the moulds to marvel at how beautiful (if a little imperfect) they were. We then got to put our chocolates into a box to take home and share with our families. Leaving with chocolates and certificate in hand, I really felt as though I had accomplished something special and can’t wait to sign up for the next course! Don’t they look beautiful?

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If you would like to attend Jim’s chocolate making course yourself (or indeed any of the other exciting workshops on offer at the cookery school) you can book on via their website. Click here to take you directly to the website.

Interview – Taylor from Bake Free

What got you interested in baking and free from foods?IMG_1229

I’ve always been interested in cooking, food and flavours but really began baking when I found that I need to follow a gluten free diet. My wife has food allergies and my daughter does too, so this naturally lead to baking free-from recipes and experimenting with creating foods that we were unable to buy elsewhere.

When did you first make your famous brownies?

I think the current recipe is about attempt number 17! I tried a lot of recipes which I found in books and online but wanted to keep pushing to see how rich I could get the chocolate flavour and also pursuing a great texture. Now I make them in a range of flavours but the nutty ones are my favourites – Peanut Butter Swirl and Hazelnut Praline!

How was your first attempt at gluten free baking? 

I actually used to really dislike baking as I didn’t like to follow recipes and measure ingredients. I was a bit of an “experimental” cook! Now that I create my own recipes and transform traditional recipes into free-from bakes, I enjoy the baking a lot more. I enjoy having the freedom to create.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

From a huge range of places! I’m often limited by allergy statements and production methods but make sure that my ingredients are responsibly sourced/produced and I try to have minimal ingredients in recipes and to keep as much of a wholesome approach as baking allows.
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Anything you are particularly proud of about your products? 

I constantly get feedback that nobody would know that my products are free-from and many people prefer them to the so-called “normal” items that they buy.

What’s your best-selling product?

Brownies, both at events where I trade and I also wholesale locally too.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Taking the step to begin my own business and I hope that this will be a good example for my daughter to not follow the beaten track.

IMG_1281What are your ambitions for the future?

I’d like to have a small cafe or deli one day.

What’s your mission statement?

Just to make food that people enjoy. My favourite is when people get tippy-tappy feet when they eat something good.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

I’m a dark chocolate fan, particularly 85% and upwards. Combination-wise, I enjoy chocolate with nuts, ginger and coffee.

You will be able to get your hands on Bake Free’s yummy gluten-free goodies at the Exeter Chocolate Festival! If you would like to find them before then you can visit their facebook page for details of other local events.

Interview – James from J.Cocoa

What got you interested in chocolate? IMG_0653-38

I have always loved food, cooking and eating, and I have always been interested in how foods are produced and their origins etc, and who doesn’t also enjoy a bit of chocolate? But it wasn’t until I was at a chocolate demonstration at a food festival that I really got drawn down the rabbit hole. It was a demo on how to flavour chocolate, fill chocolates and whatnot, but at the end of the demo someone asked ‘but how do you make the chocolate?’ to which the exhibitor had to admit that she just buys it all in ready made, so this got me thinking, how many companies actually do make their own chocolate? And to my surprise, very very few do. So in my over casual manner I stupidly thought ‘well how hard could it be?’ and so it began…

When did you first make chocolate?

The curiosity all started in 2015, but depends what you mean by chocolate, as my early attempts certainly didn’t replicate any chocolate I had ever seen before. The appearance, taste and texture should probably be described as ‘rough’. It is safe to say making chocolate proved more difficult and complex than I had ever imagined, but I was now hooked and driven to make something at least edible.

chuno milk miniHow was your first attempt at making chocolate?

As mentioned it wasn’t exactly plain sailing and to be fair I had no idea what I was really doing. There was no one that I knew of who actually made chocolate from bean to bar to ask for help or tips so everything has been done with in depth research online, reading history of food books and a significant amount of good old trial and error, with mostly errors, but they say you learn from your mistakes and that I certainly did. My first attempt was made up of unintentionally burning the cocoa beans to a brittle horrid flavoured mess followed by cracking them with a rolling pin, de-shelling with a hairdryer (what a mess that made) and grinding them up in a blender. If I part any wisdom on future makers, do not do the last part. It took me to blow up two blenders to realise that making chocolate in a blender doesn’t work.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I start by working directly with the growers or co-operatives to ethically source the highest quality cocoa beans paying a premium of over 5 times the Fairtrade rate. This means that finally the farmers are getting greater recognition, and a true price for the demanding work and time that goes into growing and cultivating the cocoa, enabling farmers to actually make a living from their cocoa instead of just surviving. They can keep their children in schools and re-invest to grow their businesses instead of being forced into selling their cocoa to large confectionery companies at ridiculously low prices. Only Organic ingredients where possible are added to my chocolate, with only 2-3 ingredients in my dark chocolate bars. I never use emulsifiers, strongly believing that for great chocolate, Less Is More.

Is there anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I am immensely proud that my chocolate has come a long way in the 4 years since seeing that demonstration and its very humble, chaotic beginnings. What started as curiosity, turned into a hobby and became a full business. My bean to bar chocolates are internationally award winning, collecting an award for every bar created and entered so far. Including winning Gold at the 2018 international chocolate awards.

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What’s your best-selling product?

My hand painted giant Easter eggs. They are all individually decorated in different colours and slightly different designs so that every one sold is unique to that person enjoying it, packaged in my zero waste own design boxes. However that’s only seasonal, in general the best selling chocolate variety is the new coffee milk chocolate. This is the one that collected gold in 2018 and flies out as soon as I make a batch. It is enjoyed by cafes, restaurants and bar customers alike for its truly natural and subtly blended flavour.

What achievement are you most proud of?

One of my greatest achievements is not only ethically sourcing ingredients but also sustainably producing and packaging my chocolate. At J.Cocoa I make a specific pledge to the environment to protect our planet, after all, this is the only planet with chocolate on it! I have reduced the businesses waste to an absolute minimum. Any packaging from deliveries either gets reused, repurposed or recycled. Nothing gets wasted throughout production, and I have designed most of my machines and equipment which have then been built here in the UK from recycled stainless steel, and everything is either powered manually or by electricity.

Packaging is the biggest issue when it comes to waste, particularly plastics. So I set about designing my own zero waste chocolate packaging that was still functional, hygienic and protected my bean to bar chocolate. It took me the best part of a year, but it eventually all came together. My single origin bars are packaged in fully compostable starch-based wrap, inside a totally glueless recyclable acid free card box, all of which is produced here in the UK minimising fuel usage. My hot chocolate stand up pouches are re-sealable and also fully compostable. My shipping boxes are custom fit to the bars minimising movement and the need for excessive protective packaging. Though in circumstances where this is needed I either use paper, compostable pellets, or simply re-use protective packaging from deliveries I have received. The boxes are then secured with fully recyclable tape.

I am most proud of persevering with making chocolate too. It has brought many highs bars twistand lows and it is no easy product to produce. It is a very complex time-consuming process, and by changing one small aspect within it will yield a completely different end product, which at times has been a nightmare. But I do it because I love it, and I want others to enjoy what I make.

I am proud to use the chocolate as an avenue to implement real change particularly in cocoa growing countries which also happen to be some of the poorest regions on earth and historically taken advantage of.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Looking to the future I want to carry on making chocolate, sounds obvious but it is a tough path to walk. I also want to continue increasing the range of chocolates I make, working with more amazing growers and invest in fully renewable energy sources such as solar panels, rain water storage with purifier and wind generators etc to eventually become totally sustainable and continue to form a business and product that creates a big taste impression whilst leaving no imprint on the planet.

What’s your mission statement?

To produce the most delicious bean to bar chocolate in a fully ethical and sustainable manner, to use the chocolate as an avenue to implement real change economically and environmentally. To enjoy making something that brings joy to others.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Very difficult, I love so many different chocolates dark, milk, white, filled, bars etc. There’s so many really amazing chocolate makers and chocolatiers. Some of my favourite go-to chocolates are basically anything from Zara’s chocolates, Eponine and Fifth Dimension, the triple chocolate truffle from JK chocolates is incredible! Chocolarder’s Sambriano Dark bar is one of my all time favourites and bars from Dormouse and Solkiki are too brilliant to name just one. And that’s to name just a few!

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You will be able to try James’s award-winning chocolate at the Exeter Chocolate Festival! But if you can’t wait until then, you can order direct from the website by clicking here.

Interview – Samuel Brook

What got you interested in chocolate?fullsizeoutput_d24

I’ve always had an affinity for pastry work and chocolate, whether it’s been making things with it, cooking or eating. As my career has developed and I have learnt more about chocolate, the different types there are and the different flavour profiles that they have, my appreciation and enjoyment for chocolate work has only increased.

When did you first make chocolate?

I have not made bean to bar chocolate yet. But making individual handmade chocolates with different and intricate designs is fast becoming one of my favourite things. The phrase I hear most often is ‘they look like marbles or shells’ or ‘they look too good to eat’.

How was your first attempt at making chocolate? 

The first attempt went well, but then it’s easy when someone is teaching and helping you. Since then it has taken a lot of practice to get to the stage where I’m happy with the way that my chocolates look and taste.

CW0fbgO4Sl2EDh748hyULAHow and from where do you source your ingredients?

I use Valrhona chocolate, because there is no comparison. There are so many different types and flavour profiles, which then offers me so many options when it comes to making chocolate and truffles. Matching the chocolate to the correct flavour enhances the end result which makes the chocolate more enjoyable.

What achievement are you most proud of?

People’s reaction when they taste some of my patisseries is something to be really proud of and happy with, and is without doubt the most rewarding part of my job. Achieving 2AA rosettes with my first review when I was in my first head chef job. I am yet to put forward my chocolates or patisseries for any awards.

What’s your best-selling product?

Chocolates and Macarons – gift boxes and wedding favours

What are your ambitions for the future?fullsizeoutput_d62

My goal is to open a patisserie shop, a real French style patisserie. Hopefully in Exeter, where I would serve brunch, afternoon tea and sell chocolates, macarons, patisseries and if the time allows, real viennoiserie, made and baked everyday.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Valrhona Bahibe 46%. It is a milk chocolate with a slightly increased amount of cocoa and it has a brilliant balance between the two profile of milk and dark. It is also the chocolate that I use for Millionaire’s Shortbread, which is the reason I am where I am and where my career began.

You can find out more about Samuel and his business ‘Pretty Little Pastries’ here.