The Chocolate Sensations story started on a cold and gloomy day back in August 2012 in Hilton, a small town that lies on the brow of the escarpment, about 10Km's outside Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. Judy had undertaken to have a stall at her local church fair but after casually explaining to her neighbour Gwynne - over a cup of coffee - that she was in a quandary as to what her stall would sell. Judy mentioned that she had some old, unused chocolate moulds from years back - Gwynne jumped at the opportunity to help her make chocolates - at this stage they had no idea of how to go about it! They bought some Belgian Chocolate, melted it down into the moulds and packaged them for the fete stall - they were a sell out! Gwynne jokingly said to Judy that they should start their own business - they both laughed heartily at the thought - little did they know!
Chocolate Sensations officially opened for business on 1 December 2012 and they have been perfecting their craft ever since - being self taught - they watched many Youtube videos and with tears and hard work they even tempered their chocolate - no mean feat - by hand! In their own words they were 'so green' but with time and understanding, they've come to realise the conditions that govern production of fine chocolate and have since then invested in a tempering machine, which also speeds up production. Using the finest Callebaut Belgian Couverture Chocolate, in dark, milk and white - no compromising in quality here, as this chocolate has been the preferred choice by Belgium Chocolate makers for the last 100 years - their chocolate's and chocolate related goodies are deluxe, handcrafted and hand decorated - they even personalise their products, depending on their customer's requirements - personalised, handmade merchandise that is packed to suit your needs - how awesome is that?
Now for those of you who may be diabetic - they offer a Couverture Diabetic range that contains Maltitol - or if you're health conscious - their Carob range is non-dairy and sugar-free and instead contains sun-dried fruit which include dates, berries and various nuts. There really is something for everyone and something tells me if they don't offer what you're looking for, they'll do their best to accommodate your request!
Their products are made from 100% sustainably grown cocoa beans - yay for sustainability - and include (but are not limited to) corporate hampers, wedding favours, single novelty chocolates, gifts for special functions and occasions. They also make fudge, brownies / squares, chocolate dipper spoons and ready-to-use sweet sauces! They have managed to perfect upmarket, handcrafted products at affordable prices - that's a feat in and of itself.
Say hello to Gwynne and Judy.
In the interest of research, we bought a few of their wares to taste - it may have been the few glasses of wine - it was a food & wine fair after all! - that I had already consumed by the time we reached their stall, but I found myself engaging with them; appreciating their passion and customer service dedication, I found myself offering to blog about them! Promise kept, here goes!
Where do I start with their Pecan Squares? In my opinion, it came across very much like Millionaire's Shortbread - but with Chocolate Sensations spin on it. The buttery, short, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit base? Generous portions of pecans? Thick shards - no thin shavings here - of white chocolate that covered the top? Tasty layer of caramel that's not sickly sweet (just the right amount) but marries oh-so-well with the biscuit base? Chris is no fan of anything too sweet and he even agreed that they were tasty, I managed to even get a 'lovely' out of him. So - if anything - if he liked them, then you know you're on to a winner! What impressed me most, was the near perfect ratio of white chocolate to the pecans, to the caramel that topped the biscuit. Every bite delivered the perfect amount of each ingredient - which you could taste individually - there's no hiding behind fancy flavourings, each co-starred perfectly to form a well balanced treat. Rich and decadent but in a subtle, non-pretentious way; I even like how each piece wasn't perfectly square - just what you'd expect from a homemade, small-batch treat.
Maraschino Cherry & Whiskey Liquor singles; White & Milk Chocolate covered Honeycomb.
The Maraschino Cherry & Whiskey Liquor single's are the perfect pop-in-your-mouth treats! Both are covered in the delectable, dark chocolate which is the perfect pairing to their respective fillings. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate offset's the rich, Lindt-like-centre consistency of the Whiskey Liquor single - the whiskey shone through perfectly. It is oh so rich; oh so creamy; oh so indulgent. The perfect - adult alternative - to an 'After Dinner Mint'! The Maraschino Cherry single is also paired with the dark chocolate, a match made for each other - as with the Whiskey Liquor single - the coating of chocolate is generous (no skimping here). As you bite into the Maraschino Cherry - which was plump and juicy - the burst of the subtle cherry flavour combines so well, again, with the the dark chocolate. I found myself wanting more - sadly we only bought one of each for ourselves!
Chris does love him some chocolate covered honeycomb - he chose to buy the pack that we took home. - and what a pleasure it was to taste. The honeycomb had a decent crunch to it, that melted to a chewy, gooey consistency that we've all come to know from honeycomb. I sampled the white chocolate whilst Chris happily munched on the milk chocolate. Chris assured me that it was one of the best chocolate coated honeycomb treats he's ever had! In fact, he has asked me to place an order for more - Gwynne and Judy, expect an order to be placed shortly! I found the white chocolate a nice alternative to the normally found milk chocolate covering - the balance between the sweetness of the honeycomb and the milkiness of the chocolate was perfect. Again, a decent coating of chocolate could be found - it managed to straddle the line of rich and decadent without being overly sweet, thus allowing the ingredients to shine. It is simply made, yet well executed.
The ladies' gifted me a Lime and Chilli in Dark Chocolate Ganache treat to sample and review - I happily obliged!
The lime and chilli in dark chocolate ganache is an unlikely combination of flavours, yet they compliment each other so well; I suppose it's the citrus flavour that reminds me of a 'Terry's Orange Chocolate' but with a surprisingly pleasant hint of chilli after-taste! The smooth and creamy ganache was encased in a thick layer of dark and white chocolate - as with all their other goodies we tasted, there certainly is no skimping here! It's something different - may not be for everyone - but well worth the trying!
To place an order, or to find out how they can assist in your chocolate requirements, please do contact them via the following:-
T: +27 33 343 4424
So what are my final thoughts on Chocolate Sensations? It's simple, their final product easily reflects the quality of ingredients used; then there's the perfectly paired combinations of flavours - not an easy thing to achieve - and their generosity with regards to the amount of chocolate used. As I had the pleasure to meet them both in person, it did not surprise me that their product's are not only well made but demonstrated a high level of care and thought that has gone into producing each chocolate treat - one can taste that they've used the best quality ingredients possible.
I'd happily tell anyone looking for handcrafted, locally made and personalised Belgium Chocolate goodies to give Chocolate Sensations a go - now, how do I convince both Gwynne and Judy that they need me as their official taste-tester?!
This was not a paid for blog and all opinions are mine (and Chris').
Until next time,