"Why did you decide to become a chocolate maker?" This is probably the question I get asked the most! It was simply an act of stubborn defiance. A response to an email!
After quitting my desk job of 10 years, I decided to go into the candy importation business, especially those candy treats from all over the world (hence the name- MY SWEET SWEET WORLD). In the late stages of this process I discovered that one of the biggest chocolate manufacturers in the world uses colourants in their chocolates. They use a brown colourant in the milk and a yellow colourant in their white chocolate. This helps to give the bars a uniform, 'beautiful' colour.
I was so annoyed by this that I emailed the company, asking them to take off these colourants, after all, cocoa is already beautifully brown, milk and cocoa butter already provide a beautiful off white colour, these additives are unnecessary. To my surprise, they actually replied me! They basically quoted me their sales figures from last year all over the world and informed me that their brand is well respected and loved, and so they have no intention of altering their 'recipe'.
This response got me questioning everything I knew about chocolate. It might have been the philosophy major in me speaking, but I found myself asking a lot of WHYs.
WHY use colourant in chocolate? To make something, that's already naturally beautiful, artificially more beautiful.
WHY is the sugar content in milk and white chocolate 50% and above? Because sugar is cheap. It drops your production cost significantly! Also, according to research, North Americans have a sweet tooth.
WHY use 'milk ingredients' instead of just 'milk'? Because natural milk is about 35% natural sugars (hence why babies crave breast milk). But the adult taste buds can no longer appreciate this sweetness. To use natural milk, they would have to declare this sugars. Milk ingredients is milk that has been further processed to strip out the natural sugars, so that it can be replaced with even more sugar,
WHY use soy leicithin? To give the illusion of a silky smooth product and also to help the mixing and emulsifying process.
WHY use sunflower oil? It is an odourless, more viscous and cheaper oil. It therefore helps to save cost, and makes the chocolate easier to temper and remove bubbles. Of course it helps too that you get the illusion of a silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth feel because if its lightness.
WHY use preservatives? Even though cocoa is itself a natural preserving agent, many times they need these bars to last years. Or items that have some water in them (e.g. caramel) have been included to enhance the flavour.
In doing more research, I found that there were two options only; the mass produced stuff, or the good quality chocolate that's crazy expensive. Most people craving chocolate end up buying poor quality product because they cannot spend $15 on a 50g bar of chocolate.
This is what convinced me to make my own brand. I wanted to take a small step to offer my community a different option. Start by taking chocolate back to the basics; cocoa, milk and sugar. Strip out every unnecessary additive. I also wanted to offer a healthier option to people that love milk and white chocolate too (like myself), by offering a yummy treat that has a significantly lower processed sugar content, moderation is key after all! This led to my decision to become a chocolate maker, my decision to learn chocolate making from scratch. To create a products that's healthier, tastes good and doesn't break the bank.