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  • Beyond Good Salted Caramel Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes Recipe

    Beyond Good Salted Caramel Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes Recipe
    Sarah Dobson (@sarahschocolatestash) created this amazing recipe for mini chocolate mousse cakes, using the Beyond Good Salted Caramel 73% dark chocolate...

    Ingredients (makes 6)



    - 40 g Super Wine biscuits (4 biscuits)

    - 20 g Beyond Good Salted Caramel chocolate

    - 20 g unsalted butter

    Mousse filling

    - 50 g Beyond Good Salted Caramel chocolate

    - 25 g unsalted butter

    - 3 tbsp cream (45 ml)

    - 1 egg, separated (at room temperature)


    - Chocolate shavings (using remaining chocolate)

    - Small handful of chopped roasted peanuts

    - Softly whipped cream (~50 ml)

    Equipment needed

    - Food processor 

    - Electric beater

    - Silicone mini muffin tray (or similar)

    - 5 small bowls or ramekins (with at least two being microwave safe)





    1. Blitz the Super Wine biscuits into a fine crumb. Set aside.

    2. Chop up the chocolate and butter and place in a small, microwave safe bowl.

    3. Use a microwave to melt the chocolate and butter in short 5-10 second bursts (stirring in between).

    4. Once melted, add the biscuit crumb to the chocolate/butter mix and stir thoroughly.

    5. Firmly press teaspoonfuls of mixture into 6 mini muffin spaces. Ensure you have ~1 teaspoon of mixture leftover - this will be used for the topping. Leave this in the bowl.

    6. Place the muffin tray & bowl of leftover base (for the topping) in the fridge, and start on the mousse.



    1. Set out 4 bowls with the mousse ingredients. Prep each ingredient as described below...

    Bowl 1 (microwave safe): Chocolate and butter

    Begin by melting the chocolate and butter in the microwave, using 5-10 second bursts. Once melted, set aside to cool.

    Bowl 2: Cream

    Use an electric beater to whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

    Bowl 3: Egg white

    Using a clean beater, whip the egg white to soft peaks. Set aside.

    Bowl 4: Egg yolk

    Lightly whisk the egg yolk using a fork or small whisk.


    2. Slowly add the yolk to the chocolate mixture while beating the chocolate/butter mix on low speed. It should thicken slightly. Stop beating once incorporated.

    3. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/butter/yolk mix until incorporated.

    4. Finally, gently fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.

    5. Remove the muffin tray from the fridge and spoon mixture on top of the 6 cake bases. 

    6. Fill to the top of the muffin spaces and use a scraper to smooth the cake tops.

    7. Place back into the fridge and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.



    1. When ready to serve, whip ~50 ml of cream to soft peaks. Set aside.

    2. Finely chop up a small handful of roasted (salted) peanuts and any remaining chocolate.

    3. Add the peanuts and leftover chocolate to the bowl of leftover biscuit topping (from the base). Combine.

    4. Using a hot bread & butter knife, carefully run around the edge of each cake and pop out of the mould. The hot knife can also be used to smooth the sides if required.

    5. Place a teaspoonful of cream on top of each cake.

    6. Finally, sprinkle over the peanut/chocolate/biscuit base mixture of topping. Serve immediately.


    Recipe notes


    - As this recipe uses raw eggs, make sure your eggs are fresh and have clean shells.

    - For a lighter mousse, you may omit the egg yolk.

    - Unsalted butter is specified because the chocolate is salted.

    - Any high quality, craft dark chocolate would be suitable for this recipe, if you don't have the specified bar on hand.

    chocolate mousse recipe nz

  • Chocolatiers Using Craft Chocolate

    Chocolatiers Using Craft Chocolate

    There’s never been a more exciting time to be a chocolate lover. Whether you’re a fan of confectionery like bonbons and truffles or more of a bar fanatic, there are more options on offer today than ever before, with new chocolate brands popping up every year, new trends and techniques, new cacao origins, and new flavour experiences that previous generations couldn’t even dream about. It’s truly a delicious time to be alive.

    One thing that’s been particularly exciting to see in recent years is the emergence of chocolatiers using bean-to-bar craft chocolate. I decided to take a deep dive into this fascinating new world of collaboration, and to speak with some of the talented individuals who are leading the way...

    fawkes confectionery

    Before the rise of bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the vast majority of people who wanted to work with chocolate on a small, non-industrialised scale had to work with pre-made couverture, usually made by huge chocolate corporations in Europe or North America. Because this handful of megalith chocolate companies was (and still is) producing most of the world’s chocolate, and doing it whilst sacrificing quality and ethics in order to save time and money, the chocolate landscape that most of us grew up in was homogenised, bland and lacking depth of both culture and flavour. Whilst we loved mainstream chocolate at the time, the emergence of the bean-to-bar craft chocolate scene has opened many of our eyes to the vast world of flavours we’ve been missing out on. 

    Small-scale bean-to-bar chocolate makers started emerging around the mid-nineties, with the aim of bringing more diversity and quality to chocolate, whilst also improving the ethics of the industry. They rejected the use of mass-produced couverture and decided instead to make their own chocolate from scratch, using all kinds of innovative methods to replicate large-scale chocolate making equipment. They sourced rarer, higher quality beans than what was being used in mass-produced chocolate, and they made cacao the central focus of chocolate again, rather than masking it with large amounts of sugar, milk and unnecessary additives. 

    Today, there are thousands of bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers all over the world. Whilst it’s still a small segment of the industry, it is growing at a much faster rate than mainstream chocolate, and customers are gaining more and more understanding of the increased level of quality and deliciousness they can find in the craft sector. It’s been amazing to see the growth over the past ten years.

    craft chocolate new zealand

    Until a couple of years ago, it felt like small chocolate companies had two main options - make chocolate from scratch, from bean to bar, or be a chocolatier and use mass-produced couverture to create bonbons, truffles, etc. At times there has been a bit of a divide between the two camps, even though both chocolate making and chocolatier-ing are art forms in their own right, and skills that go hand-in-hand with each other. There are a few craft chocolate makers who are making things like bonbons and truffles from the bean (in New Zealand we have Miann and Lucid Chocolatier), but most companies do one thing or the other.  

    Now that there are so many established bean-to-bar makers, many of them having far outgrown the basements and garages they started out in, there are a lot of options for where to source craft chocolate, and more and more makers who can supply larger quantities. Because of this, an exciting new unity is evolving in the industry, with some of the world’s best chocolatiers using some of the world’s best craft chocolate. 

    nordic chocolatiers

    Peter Svenningsen from Nordic Chocolatiers in Denmark works with exceptional craft chocolate from the likes of Friis-Holm, Zart and Duffy’s. 

    ‘Using high end craft chocolate enhances the ingredients that we use. We work with approximately 12-13 different dark chocolates; different ones are used with the different ingredients/flavours. For example, O’Payo from Friis-Holm compliments our Pure Inland Ice piece and the Olive Oil Bergamot, whereas for our Strawberry Gastrique, the dark chocolate from Zart was a better match.’ 

    Peter also spoke about the importance of using high quality chocolate when it is one of only a few ingredients in a bonbon. 

    ‘Working with primarily water ganaches, there is a big focus on the chocolate. One cannot mask bad chocolate when working with max three to four ingredients, and when water is one of them, you have to be picky with the chocolate you choose.’

    David Crichton from The Careless Collection was also passionate about the use of craft chocolate in ganaches... 

    ‘The depth of flavour in the final product [of craft chocolate] is so strong that it is very difficult to dilute it. Hence I have found using bean-to-bar to make ganaches a bit of a game-changer. You would think putting bean-to-bar in a ganache would mask the chocolate’s flavour profile, but it transforms it into another dimension. I guess because a ganache is more liquid, the pure taste of the craft chocolate hits the palate before the hard chocolate has a chance to melt properly. So you get a double whammy effect.’

    David’s beautiful creations started out as a dessert he created when competing in Master Chef in the UK, but have now gone on to become retail products. He has a big love of Pump Street Chocolate, and uses their couverture for many of his products. 

    ‘I was always aware of Pump Street and loved their chocolate. However, I was tasked with creating a bar based on bread. I discovered the Pump Street Rye Bread chocolate and this proved to be my final eureka moment for my Buttered Toast bar. I sampled most of their couvertures and just knew immediately I needed to build a collection around it.’  

    the careless collection

    Jen Lo from Meltdown Artisan in Sydney has started making her own bean-to-bar chocolate, but she also collaborates with some of the best craft chocolate makers in Australia. Her recent creation ‘Trevor’s Breakfast’ not only credited the chocolate used, but was actually named after the chocolate maker - Trevor Smith from Metiisto Chocolate in Queensland. 

    ‘Funnily enough, it was heavily inspired by Trevor himself. I had been chatting to him about using his Mocha Milk in something, and I was pondering out loud as to what it would be. He jokingly said "breakfast" and I rolled with it.’

    Jen also spoke about the ethical benefits of working with small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate... 

    ‘I think the main benefit is obviously choosing to use chocolate that is traceable and sustainably sourced—you know that most bean-to-bar makers are hell bent on ensuring that their practices are sound from the farmer through to the consumer. It's less about making in 'mass' and more about making something unique, of true quality, with their own signature stamp on it. It means that as a chocolatier you're working with something that not many people would necessarily think to use instinctively. So beyond the ethical choices and benefits, it also becomes a positive point of difference.’

    meltdown artisan

    Hilary Harvey from Fawkes Confectionery in Oregon is also sourcing bean-to-bar chocolate from a local maker... 

    ‘When I discovered that there was a local bean-to-bar chocolate shop where I live (Seahorse Chocolate in Bend, Oregon) creating small-batch single origin chocolate, I was beyond ecstatic and immediately reached out to see if I could source from them. I'm very fortunate to have their support and their chocolate.’

    One thing that all the chocolatiers I spoke with mentioned was the benefit of matching the natural flavour profiles of the chocolate with the added flavour ingredients. Hilary was no exception... 

    ‘Most people think dark chocolate is just dark chocolate. But depending where the cacao is sourced from, and how its roasted and processed, chocolate is comparable to coffee or wine, with all the different flavour profiles and tasting notes. Having the ability to pair bright, citrusy cacao from Trinidad with a tangy lemon ganache, or a warmer, toasty cacao from Vietnam with a cozy cinnamon ganache is a really neat aspect that I love.’

    fawkes confectionery

    Rita Zamoshina from Carambole in Amsterdam uses couverture from a huge range of the world’s best chocolate makers. 

    ‘It is like an artist's palette to me. I can combine so many interesting flavours in just one bonbon! ... The process of making bonbons turned into a hunt for the flavour for me. Bean-to-bar has way more flavour potential, it has a human story behind it, it is sustainable and I love to tell this to my clients.’ 

    Rita also told me about how much she enjoys building relationships with all the different chocolate makers... 

    ‘To get to know their story, to be able to call and to ask for something customised, to know what new things are coming and will be developed. It is a field for collaboration. Most of the makers are very creative and small-scale, they are really generous and inspired people. New ideas get discovered. You have people in front of you, not corporations and telephone operators. Chocolate unites people of the same passion and soul.’

    carambole chocolate

    Speaking of uniting people, Yana Yakhnes from Only Child Chocolate Co. in Portland, Oregon, came up with a really innovative project when the Covid19 pandemic started. The Mixtape Series involved collaborating with four local chocolate makers (Chakralot, Cloudforest, Foxglove and Map Chocolate) to create a chocolate mixtape (literally) and a digital playlist to come with it.

    ‘When the pandemic started, I thought about how this project would be a great way to collaborate with other people while being apart. Additionally, music is such a great communicator of emotion, especially when you can’t find the right words. I loved the idea of people sitting around the country eating the same chocolate, listening to the same music, and having a guided experience that helped them tap into all their senses (sight, taste, smell, touch, sound). So I took this idea and thought more about how I’d love to work with particular makers to make flavours that matched only their chocolate. Just like a mixtape, it would have the right flow and a particular mood.’

    Yana also told me about the vast flavour possibilities with a project like this... 

    ‘Once you taste chocolate that is made by a small-batch maker, one who uses origins they carefully and lovingly coax to tell all of their flavour secrets, you realise that there are a hundred more possibilities to create unique flavour with unique chocolate. It’s like suddenly being able to see in colour, after only seeing in black and white.’

    only child chocolate co.

    When the pandemic hit, Riadh Aine from Bumble & Oak in Cambridge, UK, also created an opportunity to engage in more collaboration, using chocolate as a bridge to help people connect during lockdown. She’s worked with several different British chocolate makers, including NearyNógs, J. Cocoa, York Cocoa House and Anisa & Chocolate. 

    ‘I’ve proudly roped my close friends into doing collaborations, including subscription boxes during lockdown. [We’ve been] highlighting what they do, the difference between making chocolate and making chocolates, and I feature makers in my tastings.  It’s had a knock-on effect of perhaps inspiring other chefs and chocolatiers to consider where they source their chocolate, and following supply chains to their farming origins.’

    When talking about the benefits of working with craft chocolate, Riadh talked about the importance of finding suppliers who share her own values... 

    ‘Most, if not ALL craft makers share the same values. Care for their environment, not just their own immediate, but globally. And ALL those I know and work with have an innate understanding of how climate affects everything, from growing season, to disease control, and distribution. A much bigger picture, that includes families supporting families essentially. Sustainable, regenerative farming, supply chains, even distribution of wealth, small business supporting small business, cooperatives and collaboration over competition.’ 

    bumble & oak chocolate

    With all of these benefits to using craft chocolate, you may be wondering why every chocolatier isn’t jumping at the opportunity. The main reason is cost - as you would expect, small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate costs a lot more than mass-produced couverture. But for higher-end chocolatiers it is undoubtedly possible to make it work financially, and with a more delicious end product, customers are willing to pay more. This can actually result in a chocolatier making more money for the same amount of work and time, so I think fears about using a more expensive chocolate can sometimes be misguided. 

    The other difficulty with using craft chocolate is its technical complexity. Jen Lo told me that ‘It's almost like learning to re-temper chocolate when you start working with craft. In principle it's technically exactly the same, but with a lot of craft chocolate there is either no or very little cocoa butter in the mix—it makes it a lot more viscous and trickier to work with in terms of timing, especially when trying to do things like enrobing or moulding things like bonbons.’ 

    Johnty Tatham of Lucid Chocolatier is both a chocolatier and a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, and when I interviewed him last year he had this to say about the technical aspect of making bonbons with craft chocolate…

    ‘Fluidity is paramount for the chocolatier, as often the flavour of the chocolate being used isn’t the star of the show, however workability is. A classic example of this is a bonbon. We want the shell of the bonbon to be as thin as possible so that when we eat it, the shell cracks and the inside flavour bursts out onto the palate as the chocolate melts away nicely on the finish. If we were using thick, two ingredient bean-to-bar chocolate for this, we simply wouldn’t be able to achieve a technically exemplary bonbon. However if we use a chocolatier-specific chocolate, we are able to achieve extremely thin shells, and the beautifully formulated filling will shine through, reflecting the skill of the chocolatier. 

    Chocolate makers on the other hand, particularly two ingredient [cacao and sugar] makers, generally won’t prioritise the additional fluidity and melt in the mouth components of additional cocoa butter or lecithin, instead opting for potency, viscosity and originality of flavour. This is great for eating chocolate, as we are able to capture the true flavour of origin without offsetting it with cocoa butter. However, if we want to then take this chocolate and make a bonbon or a hand-dipped caramel with it, I can see many chocolatiers, including myself, pulling their hair out at the thought of it.’ 

    lucid chocolatier

    Hilary Harvey also spoke about this technical aspect... 

    ‘The thing that most people like about mainstream chocolate is that it's always the same, and from a production standpoint, reliability is key. But when you work with a smaller scale, bean-to-bar producer things can vary from batch to batch. You notice the nuances more. Which can be both bad and good, but I quite like it. To me, it's like getting a hand painted gift from a friend instead of a mass produced print from an online store. It's not going to be identical or perfect, but that kind of makes the end product even better.’

    Here in New Zealand there have been a couple of brief collaborations between chocolatiers and craft chocolate makers in the past, but currently there are none happening. I would love to see more of these partnerships forming, which is partly why I’ve written this article. It can be so disappointing when you taste a beautifully crafted bonbon that’s been made with average, mass-produced chocolate, and often I find this does a disservice to the talent of the chocolatier. Tasting bean-to-bonbons made by Lucid Chocolatier and Miann made me realise the full flavour potential of this style of confectionery. It can be a financial, technical and logistical challenge for chocolatiers to start using craft chocolate, but it can undoubtedly result in a superior product, both in terms of flavour and ethics. It also has the potential to strengthen personal connections amongst chocolate professionals from all areas of the industry, and to build an enduring sense of community that includes cacao growers, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, consumers, and everyone in between. In a world that can often feel fractured and divided, that unity feels more vital now than ever before.

    nordic chocolatiers

    Thank you so much to everybody who took the time to answer my questions, as well as providing the beautiful images. 

  • A Guide to Tasting Chocolate

    A Guide to Tasting Chocolate

    It’s a very exciting time in the world of chocolate and the craft chocolate movement has opened people’s eyes to the vast possibilities held within the simple cacao bean. What most of us grew up eating was not real chocolate - it was confectionery. And chocolate doesn’t actually just taste like chocolate, it can taste like different fruits, nuts, flowers, grains, spices, herbs and more - all of these flavours just coming from the cacao. What a revelation!

    Tasting chocolate is just like tasting fine wine, craft beer or artisan cheese. There are many different factors that affect the flavour of the beans, including the terroir (topography, soil conditions, climate, etc), the varietal of cacao, the fermentation methods, and the process of the chocolate maker (roasting, grinding, conching, etc). Listen to the story each bar has to tell and - most importantly - have fun.

    a guide to tasting chocolate new zealand

    How to taste...

    This might sound strange but there are different techniques for tasting chocolate. If you chew and swallow quickly then you probably won’t get the full experience. Good quality chocolate has several layers and stages of flavour, so you need to take your time and consider each mouthful an adventure, complete with a beginning, middle and end (we call this the ‘flavour journey’).

    A clean palate is essential if you want to do justice to the chocolate - if you can still taste the last thing you ate, try eating a slice of apple or cucumber and have a sip of sparkling water. Also, make sure the chocolate is at room temperature - cold chocolate will not release its flavours properly.

    When we taste new chocolate we are judging it on four main criteria: appearance, aroma, taste and texture. Here are a few pointers of what to look for in each area...

    a guide to tasting chocolate new zealand


    Start by examining the physical nature of the bar - does it have a perfectly smooth surface with consistent colour and texture? Does it have a nice shine? Does it make a nice clean ‘snap’ sound when you break it, rather than a dull thud? All of these things are signs of a good ‘temper’, and the marks of a master craftsman. 


    Be sure to have a good whiff of your chocolate before you taste it. What does it smell like? Do you notice any individual scents or is there a complex mixture? Does the smell evoke any memories? Examining like this helps to prepare your mouth for the tasting.

    Your tastebuds tell you whether things are salty, sweet, sour, bitter or savoury (umami). The rest of what we call flavour (fruity, floral, nutty, etc) is actually the aroma. Our brain combines taste and aroma to create the overall flavour experience.


    As we all know, texture is a vital part of our chocolate pleasure. Is the bar smooth and creamy or is their a roughness? Is it mouthwatering or does it leave your mouth dry? Does it melt slowly or quickly? In the highest quality chocolate, we look for a really smooth texture with a slow melt, which allows the flavours to develop over time. Cheap chocolate usually melts very quickly, and offers a basic monotone flavour.


    Now it’s time for the main event - how does the chocolate taste? Chew it a few times to get the juices flowing, then move the chocolate slowly around your mouth and let it melt over time. What do you taste at the beginning? Does it change over time? Is there a pleasant aftertaste?


    a guide to tasting chocolate new zealand


    You can use this flavour map to help you find flavours as you’re tasting, as well as searching your flavour memories. When you’re new to this sort of chocolate tasting, it can be tricky to pick out individual flavour notes, and you might feel like everything just tastes like chocolate. It’s a good idea to start with two single origin 70% bars that only contain cacao and sugar, but offer really different flavour notes. You might like to try comparing the Foundry Chocolate India 70% with their Vanuatu 70% - you won’t believe these bars are made with exactly the same ingredients! The difference in flavour is almost entirely due to the origin of the cacao.

    Over time you’ll build up experiences of trying different chocolates and finding different flavour notes. The more you have to compare, the easier it becomes to discover and understand new flavours, along with developing the vocabulary to describe things. It won’t happen overnight but it’s a fun journey to embark on.

    If you’d like to learn more about tasting chocolate, you might like to check out our Chocolate Tasting Course.

    a guide to tasting chocolate new zealand

  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 026: Clayton McErlane, Baron Hasselhoff's

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 026: Clayton McErlane, Baron Hasselhoff's

    The previous owner of The Chocolate Bar chats with good friend Clayton McErlane, Chief Chocolate Disciple at Baron Hasselhoff's.

    We're featuring two of Clayton's chocolate bars in our March subscription boxes. So, I thought it would be a good idea to find out what's been happening behind the scenes...

  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 025: Johnty Tatham, Lucid Chocolatier

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 025: Johnty Tatham, Lucid Chocolatier
    For my latest interview I caught up with Johnty Tatham, aka Lucid Chocolatier. Based in rural Wairarapa, Wellington, Johnty launched his business in December 2020, offering a stunning range of single origin bars made with the highest quality Peruvian beans available. Despite only being 23 years old, Johnty is making some of the best chocolate in New Zealand. I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with him and learn more about what's been happening behind the scenes...
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    What is your background and what led you to the world of chocolate?
    Arriving at the world of chocolate for me, is the current point of progression in a lifelong journey of following of passion. I have always been someone who will put their absolute all into something they believe in, and will most likely flunk out or ignore something they don’t.
    After being instilled with an art and design mindset for many years, I became immersed in the culinary world and haven’t looked back since. My original desire was to become a fine dining pastry chef, however as I got closer to this goal I felt like my curiosity was honing in on chocolate. After entering an open chocolate petit four competition and learning to properly temper chocolate I was hooked. The calibre of creativity that extended from this one product was astounding, and I wasn’t surprised to find that in France there were people whom had dedicated their entire lives to understanding and working with it. I am very inspired by the French chocolatiers, as they exude real passion and discipline in their craft. Starting work for Nico Bonnaud at Honest Chocolat was the beginning of my entrance to the world of chocolate, and the opportunities I received there are a core part of who I am today.
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    What made you decide to start making chocolate from the bean?
    It has been a fair few years now that I have been aware of bean to bar chocolate making. I always wanted to do it, but it never seemed possible until moving back to our family farm pre-Covid. The thought of making my own chocolate to use in bonbons and confectionery was dreamlike, however I was torn between starting a business as a chocolatier, or a chocolate maker. 
    There are big pros and cons to each, and the reality is that I knew I wanted to do both eventually so that I could have full control over both processes. 
    A major contributing factor, if not the contributing factor was calling David from Foundry Chocolate to ask about what his life was like as a chocolate maker. He was extremely accommodating to my request to speak with him, and solidified a lot of what I imagined the lifestyle to be like. I remember after going through my series of questions and hanging up the phone I thought to myself, well that settles that, and I went home and started writing the business plan.
    After making my first batch of bean to bar, properly ageing it, tempering it and tasting it, I knew this was what I wanted to do, and haven’t felt an ounce of doubt since.

    Why did you choose the name Lucid Chocolatier?


    I am viewing this as a two part question - first, why Lucid? Secondly, why Chocolatier as opposed to maker or chocolate etc?


    I had been toying with names for a long time, always wondering if I owned a restaurant, or patisserie, what it would be called. Sometimes names come to you out of the blue and I always felt inclined to write them down. Subsequently I had a list of names I was toying with, notable mentions being ‘Silva Chocolatier,’ and ‘Tranquil Cacao.’


    I can’t remember the exact moment I landed on the word Lucid, all I know is that I did. After doing some research I discovered that it was derived from the Latin word, lucidus, meaning shining. Lucid has been used since the 16th century as a way to convey clarity and luminosity, both of which I was hoping to convey in the business. For me the word in itself is interesting, unique, and I loved it more when I looked into it, so the choice here was easy.


    Choosing to use the word ‘Chocolatier,’ as opposed to ‘Chocolate,’ or ‘Chocolate Maker,’ etc really comes down to the vision and drive for the scope of the business. Again it was a decision that was inspired by the chocolatiers in France, whom have full control of the process from bean selection through to an array of chocolate products. Also thanks to Luke for the original suggestion!

    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    How has your work as a chocolatier affected the way you make chocolate?
    This is a juicy question. First I think it’s important to briefly break down how the two professions differ, in terms of what type of chocolate they require and why...
    Chocolatiers who are buying in good quality chocolate to begin with can expect good flavour, and a chocolate that is nice and fluid. Either through additional cocoa butter or some kind of lecithin. Fluidity is paramount for the chocolatier, as often the flavour of the chocolate being used isn’t the star of the show, however workability is. A classic example of this is a bonbon. We want the shell of the bonbon to be as thin as possible so that when we eat it, the shell cracks and the inside flavour bursts out onto the palate as the chocolate melts away nicely on the finish. If we were using thick, two ingredient bean to bar chocolate for this, we simply wouldn’t be able to achieve a technically exemplary bonbon. However if we use a chocolatier-specific chocolate, we are able to achieve extremely thin shells, and the beautifully formulated filling will shine through, reflecting the skill of the chocolatier.
    Chocolate makers on the other hand, particularly two ingredient [cacao and sugar] makers, generally won’t prioritise the additional fluidity and melt in the mouth components of additional cocoa butter or lecithin, instead opting for potency, viscosity and originality of flavour. This is great for eating chocolate, as we are able to capture the true flavour of origin without offsetting it with cocoa butter. However, if we want to then take this chocolate and make a bonbon or a hand-dipped caramel with it, I can see many chocolatiers, including myself, pulling their hair out at the thought of it.
    Moving forward I intend to bring my chocolatier skills into play utilising bean-to-bar, and I will be creating chocolates specifically for each intended purpose. The three ‘Purist’ bars I have created for Lucid’s launch are designed to reflect the three different types of chocolate I see being used across the industry. The 67% is almost a two ingredient bar, exuding all of the expected characteristics of such. The 72% is a small percentage cocoa butter chocolate which can go either way, it is just fluid and workable enough for a chocolatier, but still potent enough for a two-ingredient maker to marvel at. Thirdly, the 78% is a high fluidity bar, designed to be a chocolatier’s dream. It has an extremely smooth flavour profile, not too sweet, and melts in the mouth like a bar of Zotter.
    What have been some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business from scratch?
    The biggest challenge has been juggling the many hats that need to be worn as a sole trader, along with the insane amount of learning that has needed to be done to get to this point. Originally I didn’t respect the amount of effort and determination required to go from scratch and this saw me nearly not being ready to get off the ground last year.
    On top of the learning and juggling, the aspect I have found most difficult has been to simply looking after myself. It is very easy to wear yourself out, become antisocial, and prioritise the business at all costs. I barely saw my friends or felt able to leave home for the majority of last year, and I hope that as I move forward into 2021 I learn to better manage my time and maintain a more balanced lifestyle, whilst pushing forward with my goals for Lucid. 
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    Why did you decide to exclusively use cacao from Peru?
    I am not someone who likes to have their fingers in many different pies. In fact, I would say I prefer to have a whole hand in a single pie.
    As a child, one of my favourite things to eat was spaghetti Bolognese. Everywhere I went I would request spaghetti bolognese, whether it be at a restaurant, at home, or a family friend’s house. After some time, I developed a very in-depth understanding of the dish. I began to notice very subtle differences in the way the pasta was cooked, the mince-to-sauce ratio, and the balance of cheese on top. It was almost obsessive, to the point where I was critiquing every meal of it I had, and I loved the in-depth comparison, always existing within the frame of ‘spaghetti bolognese.’
    I view my approach to making chocolate using beans exclusively from Peru much the same. Although there are many great origins (other dishes) out there, I know what I like, and I would rather explore all of the different origins I can, coming from within Peru, than chase beans down from other parts of the world.
    I analysed nearly thirty samples from different parts of the world before making the choice I did. Some of them were outstanding, but three out of the top five were from Peru, and it was a simple choice for me. Believe it or not, I think this opens more doors than it closes, and I am absolutely loving learning about Peru and South America in general. I really hope that one day I am able to travel there to visit the places where my beans come from, and I look forward to learning and offering more from there in the future.
    How do you source new cacao origins and how do you test the beans?
    Sourcing is an interesting one. I think there are a few really solid options for makers starting out, such as Meridian Cacao and Uncommon Cacao. Trade Aid is also a great option for within New Zealand. I think opting for suppliers outside of this bracket opens up a whole new world in terms of rarity but it also comes with risks. I have heard horror stories from other makers around the world, talking about receiving top tier sample packs then having a tonne of commodity trade cacao turn up, which would really sting. Thankfully my partners in Peru have looked after me so far and I am excited to continue working with them.
    Regarding testing the beans, I don’t have a bean cutter so my analysis is pretty much on a case-by-case basis. I take notes on the aroma, the overall look and distribution of size of the beans, and the list goes on... I then theorise a roast profile based on my analysis and go from there. All samples I have received to date have been made into chocolate, and this is the single most important part for me. You might think you know what the chocolate will turn out like, but you never really know until you take it through the entire production process.
    Some beans appear to have been poorly fermented and according to industry standards aren’t ‘good beans’, but they turn into beautiful chocolate. Some appear to be very lacking in flavour but after ageing they develop potent and distinctive profiles you didn’t think would come through.
    Before I had ever analysed an origin, I read countless articles and forum posts about it and I didn’t know what information to take in and what to reject. I have notes from all over the show on this subject, and truthfully I don’t think there is one single way to analyse the beans, other than on a case-by-case basis. I know that for me, being here at the start of my journey, there is still a lot I don’t know, and as the years progress and my knowledge base expands, perhaps I will have a clearer answer on this in the future. For now though, I am happy as I am until some clearer patterns emerge.
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    We’re featuring your Caramel Tonka milk chocolate in our February subscription boxes. What attracted you to tonka beans?
    I picked up my first jar of tonka beans about two years ago at a specialty supermarket, when I was looking for some vanilla pods. I was interested because it was completely new to me, and it was described as being a nutmeg-like substitute for vanilla from South America. After taking it home I lifted off the lid and whiffed in an extremely potent and completely new smell. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it! Until I met my now great friend Thomas, a chocolatier from France. He was with me when I made my first batch of chocolate and, looking for some inspiration, he pulled the jar of tonka out of my pantry. He told me about how it was really taking off in France, and couldn’t believe it was in my pantry in New Zealand! Later on, when I tasted my caramel milk chocolate, I finally felt like the tonka was calling, and the rest is history. It is currently my top selling bar, and although its formulation may be tweaked in future, the flavour combination is certainly here to stay.
    What are some of your favourite chocolate bars that you’ve recently tasted (other than your own)?
    This year I have tried an absurd amount of chocolate, especially craft chocolate. For strictly market research purposes of course.
    I think there is a lot of outstanding chocolate being made all across the world. New Zealand-wise, I always have and always will be inspired by David from Foundry Chocolate. I don’t think you can go wrong with picking up something of his. Standout origins of his for me are the Tanzania, Vanuatu and India.
    Two others that come to mind are the Manoa 70% banana bar. I don’t know what I expected, but that bar was really something! Also the Golden Berry bar by Chocolate Naive will forever remain a favourite!
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    What are your hopes and plans for the first few years of Lucid Chocolatier?
    Right now the priority is very straight forward: expand and perfect the bean-to-bar range. In terms of product development, nothing else matters other than achieving that, and I don’t really want to move forward creating other things until I am confident that this has been achieved. I would love to talk about ambitions to expand into chocolatier operations, but realistically I think putting one foot in front of the other and continually testing and investing focus into the bean-to-bar operation is what I need to do right now. I am hopeful that by this time next year, I will be running a confident and exemplary operation and will be ready to look at expanding.
    When it comes to the end goal, think Patrick Roger.
    What’s your favourite thing about being a chocolate maker?
    I think the aspect I enjoy most about making chocolate comes down to my desire to want to live a tranquil life. Working with chocolate allows me to breath and not worry about a lot of things. Living in the city, I found that everything moves very fast, and coming from an isolated rural upbringing, I struggled to see myself living a normal life there. You cannot rush chocolate, but instead you must work around it, and for that reason I find it somewhat grounding and stress-relieving. 
    In many ways I think I am yet to discover exactly what it is within chocolate that attracts me so much. I would really love to be able to invest some time into developing showpiece building skills. But for now I am happy making bean-to-bar and constantly testing and tweaking. It is hard to have a bad day being surrounded by cacao, especially when your respect the journey it has taken to get here.
    johnty tatham lucid chocolatier
    Thanks so much to Johnty for taking the time for this interview. Thanks also to Hayden Warren for taking the photos of Johnty. Be sure to check out the Lucid Chocolatier bars in our online store.
  • What Is Craft Chocolate?

    What Is Craft Chocolate?

    What is Craft Chocolate?

    There are a few different terms we use to describe the kind of chocolate we sell at The Chocolate Bar, but most commonly we use ‘craft chocolate’. If you’re a customer of ours and have been following what we do for a while, you’ve probably got a reasonably clear idea of what we mean when we use this term. But if you haven’t got a clue what craft chocolate means then don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Even within the industry, many chocolate professionals still debate what this term means, and there are no specific guidelines or rules around its use. Here are my thoughts on the matter...

    craft chocolate bean to bar nz

    Craft chocolate will never be a black and white term because the chocolate industry - and life in general - is too complex and nuanced to put everything into clearly defined boxes. What the term can do, when used with authenticity, is give a reasonably clear indication of the chocolate’s ingredients, the production technique, the ethics and the intentions of the chocolate maker. Here’s a rough guide to what is commonly meant by craft chocolate...

    1. USUALLY craft chocolate has been made from scratch - from bean to bar. This is the case for about 99% of the chocolate we stock. An example of an exception would be Akesson’s, who grow their own cacao but outsource the chocolate making to legendary French chocolate maker Francois Pralus.

    2. USUALLY craft chocolate aims to highlight the flavour of the cacao. Whereas mainstream industrial chocolate tends to mask the flavour of cacao with lots of added ingredients and heavy processing, craft chocolate makers aim to help cacao live its best life. They make cacao the star of the show and their whole process revolves around extracting the most delicious flavours the beans have to offer. Having said that, we definitely sell some amazing bars with added flavours where the flavour notes of the beans have taken a backseat. Even with these types of bars, there are always high quality beans at the base of what we sell.

    bean to bar chocolate cacao new zealand

    3. USUALLY craft chocolate is made in relatively small batches. Just like craft beer, the term suggests making chocolate on a small scale with more human interaction and control than mass-produced chocolate. We work with a lot of very small-scale producers who are processing less than ten tonnes of cacao beans per year. At the higher end of the craft scale would be a company like Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, which processes around 120 tonnes of cacao per year, and that’s still very small compared to a company like Whittaker’s, which processes thousands of tonnes of cacao per year, or Cadbury, which is processing hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year. The largest chocolate company we currently work with is Zotter, which processes around 250 tonnes of cacao per year. Would we still call that craft? Well, we probably wouldn’t, but many would, and it’s definitely a lot closer to craft-scale than Whittaker’s or Cadbury.

    4. USUALLY craft chocolate is made with fine flavour cacao, which accounts for around 5% of the world’s production (the other 95% being commodity or ‘bulk’ cacao). All of the bars we stock are made with high quality cacao, and that quality comes from both the genetics and the post-harvest processing. However, it is absolutely possible to make high quality, great tasting chocolate with ‘lower quality’ cacao, such as CCN51, which has been genetically engineered to favour disease resistance and yield over flavour. If you took some bog-standard CCN51 and meticulously fermented and dried it, then asked a master craft chocolate maker to turn it into chocolate, you would almost certainly end up with a great chocolate bar (though without many of the benefits of using fine flavour/heirloom cacao, which is a whole other topic).

    5. USUALLY craft chocolate makers are paying between two and four times the commodity price (aka futures index) for cacao. As I’ve mentioned many times before, this increased price is based on quality, and aims to create a sustainable business model that benefits both the farmers and the chocolate makers. Currently the futures index price for cacao is around $3.20 (NZD) per kg, and the makers we work with are usually paying between $6 and $12 per kg.

    6. USUALLY craft chocolate makers are very open about their business model and practices. Mainstream industrial chocolate is shrouded in smoke and mirrors that hide the truth behind the ethics and quality of the chocolate being produced. As an antidote to this, the craft chocolate industry has made openness a core part of its values, and most makers will be happy to show you exactly how their chocolate is made, where the ingredients come from, how much the farmers are paid and who is involved at every step of the process. There is nothing to hide and they are working to rebuild people’s trust in chocolate.

    bean to bar craft chocolate nz

    So there you have a collection of USUALLYs that give you an idea of what we mean when we say ‘craft chocolate’. There is one other thing that unites all of the chocolate we sell - something that is ALWAYS - and that is high quality

    Ok, so there you have it. It’s a complex topic that needs an involved discussion, and we hope this piece can help you get a feel for what it’s all about. If you ever want more information about the chocolate that we stock, please feel free to get in touch.


    The Chocolate Bar NZ 🍫