1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year? I have to say the last few years with our Christmas craziness its been near impossible to get home for Christmas though I did manage to this last year. It has to be my dad’s pancakes, he makes them every time we’re together as a family, but there seems something particularly special about having them together at Christmas.
2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season? Anything by Michael Buble – though it does become a little weary by mid-December at the Cocoa House with him on non-stop!
3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business? Everything, it’s our busiest time of the year, though seeing our regular visitors who have joined us every Christmas Eve for the last 7 years is something very special being part of the Christmas traditions of other families.
1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year? We have a little tradition that everyone finds ONE favourite sock.. to hang up on Christmas Eve and that is their Christmas stocking.
2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season? Favourite Christmas song… well that’s a tie between Fairy tale of New York or White Christmas from the Home Alone soundtrack. It’s our fav Christmas movie.
3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business? Christmas means round the clock chocolate because it’s the most wonderful time of the year! 😉
1. What’s your favourite family tradition during this period of the year? We unintentionally have accumulated a few family traditions around this time of year, from picking out and cutting down a fresh Christmas tree together, to dads own creation special cocktail on Christmas morning. However my favourite tradition is our newest one of making and decorating gingerbread people. To be honest though, we tend to hugely over decorate them to a point where they are almost inedible but for that hour or two on Christmas eve all 5 of us come together as a family, huddled round a table to mess about and have fun. – (I have attached a photo of our obscene creations)
2. The Xmas song that puts you in the mood for the holiday season? A difficult choice, it is a close call between Shakin Stevens and Paul McCartney, but I think it is Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ that wins out. My brother used this song in one of his very early short films he made He filmed people ‘de-stress’ during Christmas by getting them to smash up toys with a hammer. It was funny to watch, and amazingly did actually make people much happier. Always reminds me of Christmas.
3. What does the Xmas period mean to your chocolate business? Early mornings and late nights with the daily grind 🙂 But it also means a time for me to express a more creative side developing Christmas products such as hand decorated santas, snowmen, filled chocolates and limited edition flavours. Plus it means Christmas markets and I enjoy decorating our chocolate market stand with lights and trees making it very festive and stand out.
You can read more about James’ zero waste chocolate business and lifestlye here.
I’m thrilled to let you know that my Kickstarter campaign for the Taste. Better. Chocolate. Advent Calendar is now 111% funded! With a few hours to go until the campaign ends on 9 October (23:59 CET), I’ll be able to send out these unique craft chocolate advent calendars to my lovely backers.
To bring the project even closer to you, I decided to create a mini video-series where I introduce the makers featured within the advent calendar. Each video includes 4 makers:
Episode 1: Duffy’s, Pump Street Chocolate, Chocolate Tree, Solkiki Chocolatemaker
Episode 2: Dormouse Chocolates, York Cocoa Works, J.Cocoa, NearyNógs
Episode 3: Ara Chocolat, Mike&Becky, Original Beans, Zotter
Episode 6: FriisHolm, Malmö Chokladfabrik, Vento d’Oro, Aelan Chocolate Makers
The kind of chocolate that they will have within the advent calendar will remain a secret until December when I will share with you day-by-day each new maker and new flavour. I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to hear what you think about the chocolates within the calendar, so if you haven’t got it yet, jump on board and get one of the limited edition Taste. Better. Chocolate. Advent Calendars. Hurry up, as there are only 200 calendars made and 121 of them are already gone. The calendar is exclusively available through Kickstarter until 9 October, offering worldwide shipping.
I’d like to take a moment here to thank all my lovely backers and also everyone who shared my project with others either by talking about it or by sharing it on social media and in email. The positive response to my idea blew me away and I am intensely grateful for all your support!
Don’t forget that by getting a Taste. Better. Chocolate. Advent Calendar you not only help me make my dream project come true, but you also support 24 craft bean-to-bar chocolate makers (most of whom are micro-batch businesses), and through them you strengthen a more sustainable and more ethical cacao supply chain and ensure a better livelihood for cacao farmers around the world.
Even before the big Christmas rush is over, chocolate makers and chocolatiers are already busy designing new products and exciting flavours for the next big event in the chocolate calendar, Valentine’s Day. Still, this is one of those days that always seems to be quite far ahead, and suddenly you look at your calendar, and it’s: tomorrow!? So in this post I will try to remind you just a little bit ahead of the last minute and show you the products that I found the most interesting among the UK Valentine’s chocolate offer. Forget the boring dessert boxes and give your loved one something better to indulge on. (And yes, your loved one could be yourself too ;))
Dormouse Chocolates – anatomical chocolate heart
Healthcare professionals, biology addicts will surely appreciate this anatomical heart made out of single-origin bean-to-bar chocolate. Available in Peruvian dark and milk, and caramelised Madagascan white chocolate.
These pretty half hearts are filled with either hazelnut praline or salted caramel and available in dark and milk chocolate. Perfect size to share (if you do). The Valentine’s filled chocolate collection also includes some interesting new flavours such as a caramel with cep mushroom, a rose and lemon turkish delight truffle, honey and whole almond, espresso martini and they come in a beautiful red velvet heart box.
J. Cocoa: Hearts in a heart
Lovely Nicaraguan cacao is used to make these hollow hearts, Nicalizo for the milk and Rugoso for the dark version. Both decorated with edible gold leaf and holding two smaller hearts, one filled with caramelised milk chocolate ganache and the other with fresh raspberry jelly.
Solkiki: vegan white (pink) chocolate bundle
No more trouble if you’re loved one is vegan and you struggle to find non-dairy chocolate delights for them other than dark chocolate. Solkiki specialises in vegan, ethically and directly traded bean-to-bar chocolates and they have some amazing milk and white versions. Their Valentine’s offer includes two special edition vegan white chocolate bars: Strawberry Meringue Cream and Raspberry.
Dulcedo: Valentine’s filled chocolate collection
A local pick is my new favourite dessert kitchen in Cambridge, Dulcedo. They have amazing pastries and cakes on display every day along with a wide selection of fresh macarons, filled chocolates, nougats, honeycomb and a variety of dragees (my favourite is the chocolate covered coffee bean with cinnamon). Their Valentine’s filled collection includes hearts, lips, lipsticks with flavours such as blueberry, salted caramel, gin&lemon, strawberry crunch and orange.
B is for Brownie: fudge heart brownies
More into cakes? Up your beloved’s usual brownie experience with this single origin chocolate brownie topped with generous scoops of muscovado fudge, now heart-shaped, and always freshly baked to order.
Gift Voucher from Little Beetle Chocolates
If you still can’t make up your mind or you’re truly late (it’s already the 14 Feb and you’ve got nothing), you could get a gift voucher (I can send you an e-voucher too), so your beloved can choose some chocolates for themselves from my webshop. Or even better, why not book both of you on my upcoming Craft Chocolate Club tasting event on Saturday, 17th February 2018!
Special Offer: use VAL18 at checkout for a ‘buy one get one free’ offer to this specific event.*
I hope I gave you some good gift ideas. And of course Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that it’s the only day we ought to show our love for each other (including partners, family and friends), so let’s keep sharing the chocolate love! I’ll make sure you Taste. Better. Chocolate. if you follow my journey. There are some very exiting things ahead. Stay tuned!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I didn’t receive any money or products in exchange for featuring these brands. The products listed might be subject to availability.
*offer valid until there are available places left, valid only for Craft Chocolate Club on Saturday, 17th February 2018.