Duffy’s Newsletter April 2018
I thought we were finally seeing Spring arrive but it seems to have changed its’ mind, just as I am finalising our Panama Drinking Chocolate (how strong, how big will the packs be, do we want it to be thick or thin?) and changing the packaging for our other drinks. More on that in a minute.
The last couple of months have been dominated by “messy” truffle-making classes for adults and children, especially during the school holidays. We’ve more adult classes and parties in the next couple of weeks and then as usual we’ll announce more dates on our Facebook page. I don’t post many pictures because they aren’t our children but everyone has fun and we are getting good Facebook reviews. One of the things the kids do is make a chocolate lollipop and decorate it.
On May 11, 12 and 13th
we’ll be a part of The Craft Chocolate Takeover
of Canopy Market, Kings Cross, London. It’s a new market for small-scale chocolate makers organised by Cocoa Runners (check their website out if you want to buy chocolate that I didn’t make – can’t quite imagine why you would….) and there will be organised tastings, talks and discussions as well as stalls where you can sample and buy chocolate. Apart from Duffy’s you will find Forever Cacao, Dormouse and Pump Street Chocolate from the UK as well as MIA (Madagascar) and Franceschi (Venezuela). A small-scale event for small-scale producers and all focusing on quality. It promises to be a treat for any chocolate lover so come along, support the UK bean-to-bar scene and see what we have to offer. There isn’t going to be a Chocolate Show at Olympia this year for some reason so Cocoa Runners are trying to fill the gap for the bean-to-bar artisan chocolate-making scene and they deserve our support.
We’re going to launch a couple of new chocolates there so there will be something new to taste. Guatemala 80% anyone…..
Radio Humberside asked if we’d feature on their Treasure Hunt programme last month. Someone sets different clues in different locations and listeners have to call in with suggestions and answers. It all looked very frantic when they got to us but we felt like an oasis of calm – we were all set up and ready to greet our first Hen Party group half an hour later. We had another hen party two days later so I’ve had to make a trip or two to the bottle bank during the tidying up. Great fun though, and everyone seemed to relax and enjoy themselves.
A potential stockist seemed surprised that we used lecithin and we do get asked about it. Lecithin occurs naturally in the human body and some people take it as a health supplement. We use sunflower lecithin which is usually cold-pressed and make no health claims about it. We use it as it makes the chocolate thinner when we are moulding so we get far fewer bubbles in the chocolate bars. The alternative would be cheaper – we could add more cocoa butter – but that has far more effect on taste than half of one % of lecithin. We do not use soya in any form after finding that some people are intolerant of it, some are advised to avoid it for medical reasons and some can be “GM” which we wanted to avoid.
I’ve noticed a few chocolate makers and chocolatiers are making health claims for chocolate. I’m not sure that the research is robust enough to support the claims made so our position is this – eat chocolate because it is fabulous, eat better chocolate, introduce your friends to fine chocolate and don’t ever feel guilty. Buy chocolate that is made with care, made from fine flavour beans and made without adding cheap rubbish like palm oil to pad it out.
I’ve had a request from a couple of customers to “use less packaging” so had a look at what we do. All of our bars are wrapped in foil (can recycle), then in paper wrappers or thin card cartons (can recycle) then sent out wrapped in tissue inside cardboard boxes. So far so good. We did used to send out single bars in little bubble-wrap bags and they have been phased out. We can double-fold the tissue instead.
The plastic pouches we use for Panama Cocoa Tea and Chibchan Chai are single-use plastic, they are not really big enough and I just don’t really like them. I have found some fully-compostable paper bags that we can still seal and we are changing to those in the next few weeks. They are bigger though so there will be a pro-rata price rise based on the great weight of drink – we are going to 200g bags of Cocoa Tea and 300g of Chibchan Chai, once we get all the new labels printed. Another nice pic from Lawrence Vaughan.
We spent an enjoyable – if cold – weekend in York earlier this year and went to visit our newest stockist, the excellent Jason Hartley making Daft Puddin’. Ex-marketing whizz and now Chef. He has a lovely van in the Shambles in York and we took the opportunity to try out the sweet Yorkshire Pudding with Yorkshire Tea ice cream, chocolate sauce (made with our Panama 72% chocolate) and amusingly garnished with a broken up custard cream biscuit. Loved it and the menu looks very interesting. Jason knows where all his meat and other ingredients come from and combines them well. Check out the old red Citroen van and the menu board on the side.
I had a machine down for a week or tea recently so to catch up I started two batches on the same day – a Friday. Great in theory but it did mean having to be here all weekend (not unusual by any means) and finishing two batches on the same day. A little more difficult but 60kg of chocolate after a few days roasting and sorting beans before the actual chocolate making is rewarding and the end result looks like this:
We have a new stockist doing events and fairs with our bars in Denmark so if you are in the area check out the website of Knud Henrik Stromming for details:
I’m looking to replace our Coffee & Nibs bar (lovely Ecuador 72% chocolate with small pieces of coffee beans & cocoa beans in the middle). Don’t worry, we aren’t dropping it altogether, but it is a pain to make. I’m experimenting with an Espresso bar – same chocolate but with finely ground coffee beans mixed in and left to steep for 3 days. The wrappers aren’t ready yet but we are launching the bar in some form at the Craft Chocolate Canopy Market mentioned earlier.
As usual I have picked a name out of the hat (I didn’t get reply last month so we’ll send the same 3 bars this time to someone Cas who has been notified) and he or she will get these three bars that have been reviewed recently to compare, contrast and enjoy.
Nicaragua Chuno 70% dark chocolate
Dominican Republic Taino 65% - 2018 version
Honduras Indio Rojo 72%