They say that necessity is the mother of creation and in the case of Ethicoco, it was. Well, the father…
Ethicoco was born out of dissatisfaction. My daughter suffers with nut and dairy allergies. Since she was a tiny baby, I have cooked from scratch, creating meals that suit her needs and are prepared with love. But when it came to Easter and Christmas it was all too easy to become disillusioned with the lack of high (or even medium!) quality chocolate and sweets available for her.
So one Easter, I decided to create my own. Nothing fancy, just some melted down dark chocolate, into a cheap egg mould and decorated hideously with sweeties. Artistically talented I am not, however this first step set me down the long road of discovering how chocolate is made and the fascinating ways I could do it myself from home.
Like many hobbyists, I was more than happy pottering about in my kitchen, combining ingredients and searching for those perfect flavours that other dairy free chocolates flatly failed to deliver on. No doubt about it, my ego told me I could do better than what was on the market, but I never expected to make it my livelihood. Then came unemployment. For a whole year I was out of work, and that steady spiral down of self esteem; wondering what on earth I could do to support myself and my child.
So out of necessity, after finally getting tired of weekly job rejections, in 2014, came Ethicoco.
Ethicoco is one of the few Bean to Bar chocolate producers in the UK - but what does this mean?
The creation of craft chocolate goes through many stages and takes a long time (several days in fact). It starts of course with the import of only the very best fine raw cacao beans from only trusted sources around the world. No slavery, no child labour.
The beans are first gently roasted in a rotating drum, triggering changes within them, until they reach the perfect combination of intricate chocolate flavours- just like excellent coffee. Most chocolate makers don’t do this part of the process, so they can’t control the perfect flavour.
After this, it’s essential to sort through the beans and discard any that don’t meet the high standards expected. This can mean hand sorting ten thousand beans in a single day!
Once cooled, the shells are removed and the beans are ground and conched into a smooth liquid using traditional granite machines. This process that can take two or three days while the final flavours develop within this mass and the bitterness you find in cheap chocolate evaporates.
At this point any other required ingredients (cocoa butter, sugar and milk alternatives) are added to get the flavoured bars that Ethicoco offers.
Finally, once the chocolate mass is ground silky smooth, the chocolate is tempered and poured into molds to create the perfect bars, which are then hand wrapped ready to be shipped.