Jasmin Martin heads to West Chiltington and finds a festive essential.
Hanging on the tree, behind doors of our advent calendars, or wrapped up ready to give to someone special – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without chocolate.
Now coming in more flavours, shapes and sizes than ever before, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what treats to over-indulge on.
But if you’re thinking of trying something new this year, small boutique and bespoke artisan chocolatier MooCoco has a range of goodies to really help make your festive season sparkle.
From reindeers with marshmallow tummies to snowflake favours for a tasty way to decorate your table, owner Kim Robinson hand-makes all of her products from her West Chiltington home.
“It’s a really nice chocolate, it’s not sickly and it’s not too sweet,” reveals Kim. “A lot of chocolatiers use sugar and glucose in the filling to preserve it but I don’t do that.
“There are no nasties and I use all fresh ingredients which are local when possible.
“I also make everything myself and I don’t buy anything in. I’m always just trying things to see what goes and I just like doing something different to what everyone else does.”
Other products among MooCoco’s Christmas range include Santas and snowmen which are filled with chocolate beans, little cherubs, baubles, Christmas trees – including a small 3D one – and Christmas wreaths.
“The wreaths are lovely,” smiles Kim. “They are nearly a kilo of chocolate and there is praline inside and filled chocolates on the top.
“Then you have a selection of milk, dark and ivory chocolate and they’re lovely to break at the end of dinner or have on a buffet table.”
But Christmas isn’t the only time of year that keeps Kim busy.
Set up around four years ago, MooCoco specialises in the production of traditional hand-filled chocolates and chocolate gifts and also caters for the Valentine’s, Easter and wedding markets.
“I did a three-year course on catering in Cheltenham years ago before children and then I had my own restaurant with my parents
before I followed my husband all over the world,” she reveals.
“Then I got into chocolate in the last posting we were at which was in Western Australia and just loved it.”
Subsequently, Kim entered the Royal Perth International Show and won the overall best in class prize for chocolate confectionery in 2011.
“I was quite pleased with that so I thought I would get into it here and everyone seems to love it,” she explains.
“I just seemed to have that natural aptitude of what goes well with what.
“So I did a few courses up in Oxford with Barry Callebaut [the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer] and it just seems to have gone from there.”
Going from strength to strength, Kim’s products are primarily sold from her website, but are also now available from Coco Café
& Sugar Lounge in Petworth and Apres Chocolat in Shoreham.
Earlier this year, Kim, who got the name for her business after being affectionately known as ‘Moo’ since her children pronounced mummy ‘mum-moo’ when they were younger, also entered the Great Taste Awards.
Organised by the Guild of Fine Food, the Great Taste Awards are known as the acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and drink.
So it was fantastic news when Kim won a Two Star Award for her Armagnac Truffles and One Star for her Wild Rose filled chocolates.
“It made me feel really elated,” she smiles. “They said they have around 10,000 entries of yogurts, ice cream, pastries and pasties and only three per cent win two stars so I’m quite pleased.”
Chocolate wedding and celebration cakes, Easter eggs, bars, lollipops and chocolate houses – which are sold in kits and are easy to assemble – are also creations available to purchase from MooCoco.
“A new one I’ve been doing is a slab that I cut up which is sea salted caramel with roasted pecans and I make quite fun greetings cards which are all made of chocolate,” she continues.
“Another new one is called Huckleberry Truffle. The Americans call huckleberries ‘bilberries’ which we call blueberries, so I’ve made my own blueberry preserve with some lovely Madagascan vanilla ganache with ivory chocolate on top.
“The next chocolate I want to make is coconut and ginger and I’m trying to get into the wedding market.”
Each new chocolate comes straight from Kim’s imagination and are brought to life using various moulds.
Along with getting advice from her husband and children, she taste-tests all of the new chocolates she makes. But does she ever
get sick of it?
“No I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and supper,” she laughs.
“My flavours are bold and rich because I think if you want a coffee chocolate or a rose chocolate you want to be able to taste the coffee or rose – I don’t want to think ‘what is that?’”
To keep up with Kim’s busy schedule, she is currently in the process of building a new studio in the back of the garden as she has outgrown her current workspace in her house.
“I really love it,” she says. “I’m just passionate about it, I love working with it and I love to see people’s reactions when they’ve tried them.”
For more information, visit www.moococo.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07599 506000
Pictures by Steve Cobb
November 25, 2014 Food and Drink