Interview – Amanda from Langley’s Rocky Road

IMG_2655

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.

lobbs pic

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!

langleys-rockie-road

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.
shutterstock_59732917

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.
p

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!
p (1)

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
p (2)

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?

dav

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.
IMG_1584

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 – 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.

 

Interview – Seed Chocolate

What got you interested in chocolate?SEED LOGOS White on Blue

I have always had an avid interest in chocolate from the very moment I trained as a pastry chef in my teens.  It wasn’t until recently, that I started to really think how chocolate was made, from the raw ingredients & the chemistry within cocoa.  This has guided me to become a bean to bar chocolate maker.

When did you first make chocolate?

Just under three years ago.

How was your first attempt at making chocolate? 

It actually went really well.  We haven’t hit too many hurdles luckily.  Our biggest challenge was the heat of the summer of 2018, damn that was a learning curve!
It’s all down to the preparation of your ingredients & sourcing the right equipment.

seed1How and from where do you source your beans?

We currently source our variety of cacao from Peru.  We have a great relationship with the smallholder supplier.  We are very proud to source our cacao directly from these small farms & cooperatives.
We get sent samples from all around the equator.  It’s a real privilege to us that they believe we can make a great end product with their harvest.
We are looking into new origins from Central America & Asia for future cacao varieties.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

We are very proud that in our first full year (2018), we received five awards for three of our chocolate bars from The Academy of Chocolate & Guild of Fine Food.  We were also awarded Specialist Food & Drink Retailer 2018 by The Taste of Staffordshire.

What’s your best-selling product?

Our Toasted White Chocolate bar always sells out.  This is more than likely because it has been ranked top four (in the white chocolate category) in the world, by The Academy of Chocolate.  It’s is the only non-vegan bar we create regularly due to demand.

What achievement are you most proud of?seed2

I am just happy we have grown organically whilst keeping our identity & ethos of creating great single origin chocolate from the finest ingredients we can get our hands on.  It’s hard as I have a fractured spine.  But the rewards do push me forward.  We have met so many lovely people on our adventure so far in the chocolate making world.

What are your ambitions for the future?

We have a few secrets up our sleeve for the future, but our main objective is to get our packaging onto the next level.  We aim to have all of our packaging home compostable by 2020.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Dark chocolate all day long!  The flavour notes you get from different varieties is mind blowing. And unroasted cacao is a great snack food.
******
I can vouch for their toasted white chocolate being absolutely delicious! If you want to get hold of some before November, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Interview – Solkiki Chocolatemaker

What was the point of starting your own chocolate label?

In 2007 we were looking for a decent dairy-free white chocolate, but there were very few options and none were delicious, so we started experimenting. That same year, we sampled fine flavour dark chocolate in San Francisco and were excited by the flavours and nutrition but also the ethics behind the fine flavour movement.  The point? Deliver exploitation-free chocolate that tastes great and protects everyone in our chain; from the creatures and trees in the rainforests, to the farmers and our customers. Consuming fine-flavour chocolate really makes a positive difference, and we want to be part of that change and make good decisions easy for people to make!IMG_2803

Is chocolate a luxury item?

What is a luxury item?  Something you don’t really need.  Because of its high nutrition we think fine flavour, low processed chocolate is a necessity, like apples and broccoli – only more powerful and beneficial!  Is ultra-processed industrial chocolate a luxury? Absolutely.  The planet would be better off without industrial chocolate.

How did you go about starting the company?

We started with a very basic shoestring budget. We invested in simple equipment and wanted to recoup some of the costs so we tested selling online as a hobby and found there was a demand for our product. Some of the most important steps were; finding great farmers, finding reliable sources of great cacao, finding the route to market, gathering equipment and obtaining government approval to import, make and sell.

What were some of the biggest challenges?

Finding affordable space in which to build our workshop.  We found a very old building to renovate in the rural countryside and it took a long time to make it ready for 

IMG_2832

production.  As well as an international relocation and raising a young family, it was a true challenge to get Solkiki off the ground.

Did you find any aspect of setting up the company to actually be fun?

Almost everything about it is fun! Coming up with the name and logo, and finding the Solkiki way to do things is great fun. Starting something new, with hopes and experiments and energy… it’s a dream come true. You’ve got one life, so try to enjoy it, right?!  We’re really lucky to have found our passion, and to be rewarded while doing it is something we appreciate every day.

What inspired the company name?

Sol means the Sun, and Kiki comes from a Dutch word (Iris is Dutch) that speaks of nature, all things that grow, live and die. Solkiki – it speaks of all the things we really need. We added ‘Chocolatemaker’ to make the distinction between chocolatiers (remelters who use chocolate made by others to then be made into bonbons etc) and chocolatemakers (who produce the actual chocolate made from the cacao bean).

How do go about developing your recipes?

We feel that every variety of cacao bean that we work with has a right to shine, whether as a single source bar or with an inclusion. We like to find the things that are special about the bean and put it in the spotlight. How we go about it is different per cacao bean. Sometimes it’s in the flavour of the unroasted bean, sometimes in the roasted bean. Other times we find inspiration in something less directly related – a memory of a flavour or perhaps an aspect of a dish we recently tried, etc. We find that when you follow a lead it can bring you to very interesting roads. Many dead ends too! We are not afraid to fail, but persevering sometimes brings you to a very delicious place where the chocolate is just divine and it was well worth meeting the dead ends that came before.

What do you want the buyer to come away with after tasting your creations?

We work to generate a feeling of discovery and excitement for fine-flavour chocolate. We create chocolate that hopefully excites you and makes you feel great – mind AND body!

Who is doing exciting things in the chocolate area, in your opinion?

The Heirloom Cacao Preservation initiative is working hard to find, promote and conserve delicious and especially unique cacao trees.  Their work here is invaluable because if people don’t act immediately then many amazing cacao varieties will be lost forever.

The International Chocolate Awards and the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting are doing an incredible job of promoting fine flavour cacao and chocolate tasting worldwide, and of course the International Chocolate Salon do a great job promoting fine flavour chocolate in North America.

Are there any developments in the field that you find very exciting?

There are more and more chocolatemakers popping up around the UK and also around Europe. There is a steady interest for quality chocolate that is different and new, and we also see a growing interest from the public in understanding and exploring the ethical side of cacao.

Chocolate made without dairy is receiving more interest and we feel this is really motivating because we feel that dairy should not be an automatic ingredient for white and milk chocolate. This might sound strange at first, but we feel one can enjoy an extremely delicious white, milk or dark milk chocolate using other types of milk, like coconut milk for instance. They’re at least equally delicious.

We are also seeing new bean-to-bar specialist shops run by enthusiastic chocolate curators popping up more and more throughout Europe. It’s really great to see more interest in cacao as a food, and people understanding that cacao is a lot like fine wine, not just something to quickly satisfy a craving with (although there is nothing wrong with that too!), but that it can also be a food to savour and enjoy at a deeper level.

Do you have advice for anyone wanting to get in the business?

If you want to learn about chocolate flavours, the best way to learn is eat as much fine flavour chocolate as you can. Pay conscious attention to the chocolate and compare at least two chocolates in any session.  You’ll learn a lot about what you like and dislike and it’ll give you the best possible grounding.  Taste, taste, taste again. The sort of chocolate you should make should be the sort of chocolate you like to eat, you’re the expert when it comes to your taste buds and no one comes close. So, trust your own judgement most.

Any comments on sustainability, the environment, fair trade or other areas of interest?

About sustainability. In a nutshell, cheap industrial chocolate which costs less than 10p/gram retail price does NOT come from a sustainable source. It is driving deforestation and human rights abuse on a huge scale. Industrial chocolate currently employs 2.3 million child workers and a total of 8 million workers earning half of the bottom line for absolute poverty.

We work using direct trade, which means cutting out as many middle men as possible and making sure the farmers are rewarded properly for their work. In return they look after their crops and fermentations well and can supply us with outstanding cacao. We do our best to then work with the cacao beans as best we can, making the best chocolate possible.

We would love to see more chocolatiers switch to buying from chocolatemakers that practice direct trade. The problem with chocolate from more sustainable sources where the cacao was bought through direct trade (not just fair trade) is that the end product is more expensive and not everyone will be happy to pay more for something they’ve always underpaid for.

There are a lot of issues with Fair Trade in chocolate that need to be addressed. Just because there is a Fair Trade stamp on the bar you bought, doesn’t mean it is sustainable. What it means is that only slightly more has been paid for the cacao, but it is not enough to make a difference on the farmers’ lives.

IMG_2441

If you can’t wait until November to get hold of some award-winning Solkiki chocolate, you can order it on their website – www.solkiki.co.uk

Photo credit: Michael Lucky.