Interview – Nikki from Frandie Macaron

What got you interested in Macarons?

I started with cake decoration about 8 years ago, and then decided to learn more patisserie and went to the Ashburton Cookery School to get a diploma in professional patisserie. I found then that my favourite items were macarons, and tempering and moulding chocolates. I took over Frandie Macaron last year, and hope to soon add moulded chocolates and truffles to the selection of products, as well as many more chocolatey flavours of macarons and fillings!

How was your first attempt at making Macarons?

My first attempt was a disaster back in 2014, but this was before I really knew what they even were. I really overmixed it and ended up with a baking sheet with one massive splodge of macaron mix spread over it from edge to edge. Needless to say, I baked it anyway and snacked on it, but didn’t even attempt to make a filling and finish it properly.

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How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I try to stay as local as possible, most of my ingredients are from Forest Produce who get it all from around Devon, using the best quality possible of everything. Chocolate is also from them, I tend to use Callebaut for most of my recipes, and Vahlrona cocoa powder.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

The salted caramel macaron, lemon meringue macaron, and the salted caramel Gloop! sauce all have Great Taste Awards from recent years. I have also had some great fun in recent months coming up with new chocolate flavours using both white chocolate and dark chocolate.

What’s your best-selling product?

Salted Caramel Macarons, Salted Caramel Gloop! and Chocolate Fudge Gloop!

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What achievement are you most proud of?

My Diploma from Ashburton Cookery school, and taking over Frandie Macaron and continuing the business alone as a sole trader!

What are your ambitions for the future?

I plan on adding a few new products to the business. I am also looking into other jobs within the food industry that I may be able to do alongside the business.

What’s your mission statement?

Keep Calm and Macaron! I pride myself on providing the world around me with perfect little round macarons filled with pure joy and love! Happiness makes the world go round, and sweet treats are one of the leading causes of the ever contagious smile! Frandie macarons are also much bigger than the standard macaron size, which is what makes them that little bit more special.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

All of them!!! Probably has to be between the Callebaut Gold, and Valrhona dark chocolate range.

 

You will be able to buy from Frandie Macaron at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. If you can’t wait until then to get your hands on some, you can buy them by clicking here.

Interview – Helen from Harth Truffles

When did you first make chocolate?IMG_4607

The first truffle we ever made was to showcase a chocolate tart from our restaurant in Bath. We attended a handful of local festivals to promote the restaurant in the early days of taking it on and felt we needed something tangible to show people our food. After receiving some lovely feedback and having quite a few people interested in buying them, we decided to set up a separate project focused solely on chocolate.

What is your mission statement?

Chocolate should be an indulgence and something to be savoured. Having a small amount of something delicious should be a treat and the beauty of our product is that you only need a small amount to get your fix! We truly believe in only using the simplest and finest of ingredients and working as responsibly and sustainably as possible. It also needs to look pretty!

Where are you based and what do you love most about the area you work in?

We’re based in a small rural village called Ubley in The Mendip Hills. What I love most about our peaceful location is how beautiful the views are. We can see both Blagdon and Chew Valley Lake from our upstairs window and I feel very lucky to have the countryside all around us. It feels like a little pocket of calm.

When did you set the business up and what inspired you?

We started Harth back in 2017 in between having our two boys. We also own a Vegan
Restaurant in the heart of Bath and Harth developed from a chocolate dessert we used to sample in the form of a truffle at various festivals to showcase the restaurants’ food. Our customers showed an interest in buying them, and so Harth was born. Our inspiration has always been to create food simply, using the finest ingredients. As with the restaurant we work with incredible seasonal plants rather than using substitutes to replace animal products. The same can be said for our chocolate. We add no preservatives or additives and believe all things can be enjoyed in moderation.

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What do you love most about what you do?

Making chocolates is a gentle process and requires patience and calm. This is something that feels a world away when being a full time mum, so the contrast for me is a welcome one. I also enjoy meeting new people at the different markets we do. Everyone has a story and it’s fantastic meeting other traders and hearing their creative journeys as well as getting to see and enjoy their products.

What is your favourite product and why?

I love our Fireside truffle. For me, it is the perfect balance of flavours and conjures up beautifully my favourite time of year, Autumn. I love food that strikes a memory or a feeling and this truffle always makes me think of sitting round a campfire, quietly enjoying the evening sunset. I also love watching peoples reaction when they try it. I like seeing them go through the transition of flavours and tasting something they didn’t expect. When the warmth of the Cayenne sings through at the end, I like seeing them smile as if they’ve just experienced something completely new.

How/where do you source your ingredients?harth2

We choose to use Chocolat Madagascar who responsibly source their cocoa from the
Sambirano Rainforest in Madagascar. Farmers are paid fairly for the quality of the rare cocoa harvested and the beans are crafted in to fine chocolate in the local factories, which helps to raise the skills, values and ultimately contributes to the Madagascan economy. Chocolat Madagascar pride themselves not only on the craft of their product but on providing sustainable wealth at source, whilst reducing the impact on the environment.

For our truffles we use 100% cocoa solid chocolate, which contains no sugar. Because of this we are also able to use our own blend of sugars, including an organic, unrefined cane sugar, and completely control the sweetness of our product. For our peanut butter caramels we use an incredible sugar called Panela, made sustainably in Columbia from freshly harvested cane juice.

What are you proud of and what are your ambitions?

I am extremely proud of how far we’ve come with Harth as it has been a side project and grew organically from the resources available to us from our restaurant. In between having children, Harth has grown to be something special which I hope will inspire our children to see both of their parents putting something they truly believe in, out in to the world for people to experience. The beauty of Harth is it could take us in many different directions, depending on what products we create and how they fly. I believe as long as we stay true to using great ingredients and putting ourselves in to our product, then Harth with continue to grow. It has a long way to go, but only time will tell what that direction may be.

Harth Truffles will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival, but if you can’t wait until November to get your hands on some of their scrummy vegan truffles, you can buy direct from their website by clicking here.

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.