16th November 2017
New collaboration offers creative opportunities
Pushing our boundaries is something we love to do, and when it comes to exciting our customers with tempting new offerings a link-up with a like-minded business just across the Humber has opened up a realm of creative possibilities.
Duffy’s Chocolate supplies businesses as well as the general public with award-winning, handmade chocolate that has been created direct from Central and South American cocoa beans in its Humberston factory, in North East Lincolnshire. We’ve picked Duffy’s to be our supplier of choice for untempered chocolate – buying it in this form means we will be able to temper the chocolate ourselves by hand before we transform it into a range of mini-bars and truffles.
Yes a machine could temper the chocolate and yes we could buy it already tempered, but we always like to challenge our skills and hand-tempering is one that is notoriously difficult! We believe it’s worth putting in the effort to master the tricky method because it will give us that extra edge in terms of control over the flavour, consistency and appearance of our sweet treats, and therefore the overall quality.
So what is tempering exactly? Well, it’s basically a chemical process that’s essential for making smooth, glossy, evenly coloured chocolate. It prevents the dull grey colour and waxy texture that happens when cocoa fat separates out, it produces a satisfying ‘snap’ when you bite into it and a smooth melt-in-the-mouth texture without graininess.
When done by hand, it involves working the melted chocolate on a marble slab all the while keeping a close eye on temperature and motion, which are critical to create stable crystallisation. It’s pretty physical work, with only a limited window of time to get it right, but very rewarding!
Why choose Duffy’s Chocolate?
For us, Duffy’s was an obvious match. Owner Duffy Sheardown is committed to producing the finest single origin handmade bean-to-bar chocolate with a strong ethical focus – he is part of the Direct Cacao buying network, which means he works direct with the bean farmers rather than middlemen, ensuring they receive the best price with no haggling or quibbling.
After a long career building racing cars, Duffy swapped motors for chocolate seven years ago almost by accident. Listening to the BBC Radio 2 food programme one day, he learned that Cadbury’s were the only UK chocolate maker creating their products direct from bean-to-bar and he suddenly had a lightbulb moment. Duffy says: “I just thought ‘I could have a go at doing that!’ and that’s what I did. I bought cocoa beans on a holiday to Guatemala, and a grinding machine, and it all went from there.”
In 2009 he opened his factory, invested in additional equipment and attended the London Chocolate Show, where he attracted his first customer, the renowned chocolatier Paul A Young (who still makes regular orders).
It’s all about the flavour
Since then, Duffy has won multiple awards and become a well-respected expert on cocoa beans and fine chocolate production. He claims people don’t need a sophisticated palate in order to enjoy his chocolate: “There is no right or wrong when it comes to appreciating flavour, everyone is different. If you’re new to dark chocolate you might want to start out trying something from our Panama and Ecuador ranges.
"Our most popular milk variety is the Corazon del Ecuador Cocoa Nibs Oak Smoked Salt, but be warned it is very moreish!” Duffy admits: “I do taste a lot of chocolate but I don’t eat a lot, there’s a difference!”
Another reason we chose Duffy’s Chocolate is the incredible range of unique flavours that naturally permeate through from the beans to the final bar, thanks to Duffy’s stone-grinding technique. When asked what makes his flavours so special, he says: “It’s simply the quality of the beans we buy, there’s no compromise on flavour.
Each batch is slowly granite-ground for between 50 and 70 hours, allowing the natural flavours to mature and develop. None of our chocolate tastes bitter, and we don’t use any palm oil or milk powder to pad it out.”
Anyone wishing to sample some of Duffy’s Chocolate can visit the factory shop or order online via the website www.duffyschocolate.co.uk. There are gift and hamper options too, which almost sold out this time last year following Duffy’s appearance on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 show!
Parties (maximum 15 people) are also welcome to book a fun chocolate-making session in the factory’s studio – to enquire email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Duffy’s Chocolate Facebook page. Duffy adds: “However messy it gets, the concoctions always look amazing by the end and everyone gets to take home what they make as well as sample plenty of chocolate during the session.”
Looking to the future
All of us here at White Rabbit are thrilled to be collaborating with Duffy and are very much enjoying creating some beautifully tempered treats using his Corazon del Ecuador 83 per cent 40g Rare-Bean Bar.
We hope to see him here in our Beverley shop again soon and will be sure to save some of our special Duffy’s Chocolate creations for him to sample.
Don’t worry, we’ll still stock our Valrhona chocolate couverture selection, which continues to be popular among our customers for eating, baking and creating. However, we hope the collaboration with Duffy will add even more to the all-round chocolate experience we’re able to offer.
If you have any chocolate related questions, why not pop into our shop at 14-16 Dyer Lane in Beverley where we’ll be happy to guide you and offer you a sample to help you choose one that’s right for you? Or you can email us at email@example.com, or call (01482) 679325.