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  • 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

    Appearance

    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. 

    Aroma

    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.

    Texture

    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.

    Taste

    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

  • 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.

    Thanks,

    The Chocolate Bar NZ 🍫

  • Diversity in Chocolate

    Diversity in Chocolate
    The lack of diversity in the chocolate industry can be quite astonishing. A huge amount of the world’s chocolate is made by just a handful of multinational companies, all using the same types of cacao from the same areas - mostly West Africa and Indonesia - to create chocolate with a standard ‘chocolatey’ flavour. Most small-to-medium sized chocolate companies are chocolatiers who buy pre-made chocolate from these bigger companies - the most common of which is Barry Callebaut in New Zealand. These chocolatiers can do all sorts of unique and creative things with the chocolate, but the chocolate itself is the same as what thousands of other companies are using.
    Imagine if the wine industry was like this. Imagine if most of the wine you saw on the shelf was made by the same company, just with different added flavours and different branding, and all offering the same kind of ‘wine’ flavour notes. And what if almost all the wine was just made with Sauvignon grapes, rather than the huge array or grape varietals that we have access to today. It would be a crying shame! And yet this is exactly how the chocolate industry is, and we’ve all grown up thinking that this is a normal situation.
    Bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers are bringing diversity to chocolate and offering us a whole new world of experiences. It’s currently a small segment of the chocolate industry but within it you’ll find a vast array of options that you’ve never seen before. Different flavour notes in the chocolate, specialist varietals of cacao, unique small-batch chocolate making techniques, different farming and fermentation methods - it’s all the exciting diversity that we’re used to with wine or beer or cheese, but in chocolate it’s a relatively new thing. This is one of the main reasons for the work we do at The Chocolate Bar, and why we choose to only stock bean-to-bar craft chocolate. If you haven’t yet experienced this kind of chocolate, you’ve got some very exciting and delicious discoveries in front of you!
    craft bean-to-bar chocolate
  • Greenwashing in the Chocolate Industry

    cacao

    As I’m sure you’re already aware, the mainstream cacao industry is rife with ethical issues, such as slavery, enforced child labour and the general mistreatment of farmers, who often earn barely enough to survive. As people become more and more aware of these issues, we see more and more chocolate companies ‘greenwashing’ - making dubious claims about the ethics behind their products, and often using made-up symbols and fake certifications on their packaging.  

    Even the official certifications are failing to achieve most of what they promise to. I’m not an expert on this topic but we talk with many people who are, and there’s an almost unanimous consensus that, whilst filled with good intentions, well known certifications like Fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance are not even close to achieving what they set out to achieve, particularly in West Africa, where about 60% of the world’s cacao is grown. That’s not necessarily entirely the fault of these ambitious certification schemes, but the result of trying to fix a system that is so heavily broken. The system needs a complete overhaul.

    The fine cacao and craft chocolate industry are showing how things can be done differently, and with as much transparency as possible. The chocolate makers we work with are paying around two or three times the market rate for their beans, as opposed to the tiny premium offered by certification schemes (usually around 10% more than the market rate). They are working with farms where slavery is absolutely not an issue. One of the key things that is different about the fine/craft system is that it values quality over quantity. The much higher rates paid to farmers are based on the quality and flavour profile of the beans - it’s about doing the right thing, but it’s also about creating mutually beneficial business relationships that are sustainable and built to last. Likewise, that is why the chocolate we sell is more expensive than most supermarket brands - you’re paying for something that’s truly ethical, as well as something that is much higher quality and offers a completely different flavour experience.

    These issues around ethics and sustainability in chocolate are unbelievably complex, and made all-the-more confusing by the greenwashing we see everywhere, not to mention the big money marketing campaigns that are so much more prevalent than the voices of people and companies who are actually doing great things. Fine cacao and craft chocolate is just a drop in the ocean of this huge industry, but we hope that one day the example we’re all setting will be much more widespread, and that the world can embrace ethical trade and a quality over quantity approach to chocolate. 

     

    Photo courtesy of Luisa Abram. Views expressed are my own.

  • Chocolate and Cinnamon Flapjack Recipe

    Chocolate and Cinnamon Flapjack Recipe

    Flapjack was one of my favourite treats as a child so I decided to create this recipe and see what can happen when you throw some high quality craft chocolate in the mix. Traditionally the ingredients of flapjack are very minimal but I decided to jazz things up a bit. This recipe is so easy to make and takes no time at all, even for an amateur baker like myself. Enjoy!

    Ingredients (makes nine)

    • 135g whole rolled oats
    • 135g quick/Scotch rolled oats
    • 120g butter (or dairy-free alternative)
    • 110g raw sugar
    • 2 Tbsp golden syrup (or honey)
    • 60g dark chocolate (around 75%), broken into small pieces
    • 5 Tbsp Fix & Fogg Everything Butter (or crunchy peanut butter) 
    • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
    • 4 Tbsp cacao nibs
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt

    Instructions

    1. Put all of the ingredients except for the oats and cacao nibs into a pan and heat gently on a low heat. Stir until all of the ingredients are combined and all of the chocolate is melted (takes around 8 minutes).

    2. Combine mixture with oats and cacao nibs in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly until evenly mixed. 

    3. Put mixture in a small baking tray, lined with baking paper, and flatten out - should be around 2-3cm deep. Bake in preheated oven on 175°C for 30 minutes.

    4. Leave to cool on a cooling rack for an hour, then slice into squares and devour!