6 April 2021

Black fingernails and a good temper - here's cheers for our chocolatiers

| Michael Weaver
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Chocolatier working with a batch of chocolates at Enigma Chocolates in Canberra

Chocolatier at Enigma Chocolates gets his hands dirty with another batch of fine chocolates ahead of Easter. Photo: Brooke Zotti.

Their fingernails are often blackened from working with the sweetest of treats but nothing makes them happier than a good temper.

Of course, we’re talking about chocolate here – the tempering of which brings a glossy sheen to chocolate and a big smile to the region’s chocolatiers who are shining in the face of growing demand for fine chocolates and a never-ending palate of flavours.

Some chocolatiers even call it their own form of art.

While anything chocolate is the flavour of the month during Easter, it’s one that keeps on giving all year.

Chief chocolatier and owner of Enigma Fine Chocolates Stuart Strutt-Shotton has just celebrated two years in his shop at Braddon and said the business of making chocolates “never stops”.

“I love the creativity of it,” Stuart tells Region Media. “The temperature, the humidity all play a part.

“And we also get to work with an amazing product with endless forms to create.”

Some of his tastebud-tempters are chocolates filled with burnt honey caramel, champagne, citrus caramel and even peanut butter and jam on toast. He also uses local honey and alcohol in some chocolates.

Robyn Rowe with her amazing handmade chocolates at Murrumbateman

Robyn Rowe with her amazing handmade chocolates at Murrumbateman. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Robyn Rowe, who owns Robyn Rowe Chocolates on a serene property at Murrumbateman, was an embroiderer before she began hand-crafting some of the more than 30 varieties in her shop. It’s no secret she still hand-paints some of her creations, while her white or dark chocolate rocky road is renowned for its home-made marshmallow.

Having visited Ghana to see the cocoa pods being picked by hand, Robyn said the demand for fair trade chocolate, where farmers are paid a decent price for their product, is an important part of being a chocolatier.

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“I think a good chocolate speaks for itself,” Robyn says. “We only use fair-trade chocolate, while our couverture is Belgian chocolate called Callebaut, which I think is the best in the world.

“Using fair-trade chocolate is also very important to me as I saw a lot of poverty in Ghana and I think the farmers there deserve a decent price for what they produce.”

However, Robyn says all chocolatiers love a good temper on their chocolate, which is all about time, temperature and movement.

“We have a machine which helps us get the tempering right, but I still love the challenge. We love a good shine,” she says.

Yasmin Coe of Sweet Pea and Poppy artisan chocolates in Canberra

Yasmin Coe, who is one part of Sweet Pea and Poppy artisan chocolates in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

A love of chocolate runs in the family for Yasmin Coe and her mother, Karen Burraston, who operate an artisan chocolate supply and online sales business in Canberra called Sweet Pea and Poppy where their products are stocked in a healthy number of supermarkets and stockists in Australia.

“Chocolate is a longheld hobby and passion for us,” Yasmin says. “I consider chocolate to be a highly artistic medium with so many unique flavour combinations.”

She uses native ingredients such as Davidson plum, quandong and peach in some of their chocolates, and she caters to increasing demand for vegan and fair trade chocolate.

“We only use chocolate that is ethical and responsibly produced and traceable back to the source.

“We have some amazing flavours along with some traditional chocolates with simple things like sprinkles. One of our popular products at Easter has been a 200-gram egg coated in raspberry pieces that really replicates the flavours of the fruit,” Yasmin says.

A raspberry-coated Easter egg from Sweet Pea and Poppy

A raspberry-coated Easter egg from Sweet Pea and Poppy. Photo: Supplied.

The range of flavour combinations is endless, which is also keeping the fine art of making chocolate into something that doesn’t end once the last Easter egg is cracked open.

“It’s a wonderful industry to be a part of,” says Robyn Rowe. “We’re not big, but we don’t need to be. We just love doing what we do in a fantastic part of the world.”

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