Deep within Somerset’s rolling countryside, where the Great Western Railway line passes towards Castle Cary, an unassuming farm is home to the delicate and magical art of raw chocolate making. British raw chocolate maker, Emily Collett, has turned her hobby into a fully fledged kitchen table talent with the help of her family, friends and a very enthusiastic exercise class!
All As Raw As chocolates are made by hand; in fact, Emily can’t make chocolate when she’s not in the right frame of mind - this chocolate process really is a labour of love. They are all made from natural, organic and ethically sourced ingredients and are free from refined sugars, dairy, gluten, soy - in fact, anything artificial at all - and they’re also paleo and vegan-friendly.
For 25 years Emily ran a successful soft furnishings company, but following a couple of years in Dubai where she first began experimenting with chocolate, on her return to the UK she found herself on a raw cake making class, thanks to her sister. Having really sparked her interest, Emily enrolled on to world-renowned, raw chocolatier Amy Levin’s raw chocolate course and discovered, quite happily, that she had found her passion. After many months working on finding her signature style and using her son's bedroom as a store room, her husband embraced her new-found skills and created a fully functioning kitchen in half of an outbuilding next to their cottage.
The kitchen has all the elements required for creating her raw chocolate wonders; four fridges, many large larder cupboards and shelving units, two large farmhouse kitchen tables, various chocolate melting machines and a dehydrating machine, where Emily dehydrates apples from her orchard, including other raw and organic fruits and vegetables like butternut squash, raspberries and beetroot. These, along with sprouted buckwheat groats, goji berries and raw cocao nibs, adorn the tops of her signature chocolate discs and (rather famous actually) coconut balls - if you’re tempted to give raw chocolate a go, then these will convert you forever - they are truly marvellous, coconutty balls of heaven.
As Raw As bars, barks and truffles sit beautifully in their environmentally conscious packaging, and the little touches - like the miniature wooden pegs that keep the logo in place - are a gentle nod to how Emily is happy to keep these bars handmade and lovingly crafted as she develops her recipes.
Emily joins the growing collection of small British brands flying the flag for maintaining innovative individual craftsmanship rather than the possibility of cutting corners for mass consumerism.
Emily didn’t want to create another ’so-and-so’s kitchen’ but wanted a name for her business venture that epitomised the main objective - raw, organic chocolate - essentially, as raw as you can get. It’s as raw as it can be. “I wanted everything to be as natural and as good for you but still taste great,” she says.
The optimum temperature for raw ingredients is 42 degrees Celsius. If it’s heated above that then all the good things start to deplete; by keeping the temperature below 42 degrees the flavours, nutrients and minerals remain intact.
The cacao beans used in As Raw As chocolates aren’t roasted, they’re left to dry naturally in the sun under canopies in Equador where they’re constantly checked to ensure they maintain the correct temperature. The bean is then crushed - dividing the cacao nibs and the shell husk. The cacao nib is bitter, yet strangely light and ever so slightly fragrant - certainly an acquired taste.
The milky white raw cacao butter and richly brown raw cacao paste are then divided - this process Emily leaves to the professionals and she buys in large bags of both cacao butter and paste - they smell delicious. This is where the magic in the As Raw As kitchen begins! Both the butter and the paste is chopped up into the amount required, powdered and melted down over a double boiler. Emily has a machine that then stone grinds the chocolate for 24 hours.
Every chocolate maker has a different process, but Emily lets hers set in trays before transferring to containers where she allows the chocolate to age for a period of time.
It will then be melted again and the flavours added. All the As Raw As ingredients are individually sourced by Emily to ensure they meet the ethically sourced, natural and organic criteria she sets so highly.
We love the simple yet elegant bars and discs that look like raw chocolatey works of art. More fantastically, they taste heavenly.
We suggest you have a stash of Emily's As Raw As chocolates and truffles ready for those moments when you need something deliciously good for you - the full collection can be found here.
Did you know?
As Raw As designed the Raspberry Beetroot Boost with 80% dark chocolate for those attempting great endeavours! Beetroot helps the body produce nitric oxide which the body finds difficult to do at altitude, relaxing and widening the blood vessels and arteries to allow cells to use oxygen more efficiently. 10 bars of the raspberry beetroot super boost chocolate accompanied St Giles Trust's Chief Executive, Rob Owen OBE, as he marked his tenth year of heading the charity by scaling two of the world’s highest mountains – Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse - with Kenton Cool, extremely experienced mountaineer and alpinist, as his guide. Here’s a picture of Rob, and the Raspberry Beetroot Boost Bar, at Base Camp!