Our Ashford workshop is a hive of cocoa-infused magic, where chocolates are crafted by our passionate team of skilled artisans
As gorgeously presented and irresistibly delicious as our chocolates are, each artisanal morsel has a story behind it. All of our chocolates are crafted with love in the heart of Kent, where our 20,000 sq ft atelier can be found. Even with the most inspired ideas and the very best ingredients, it’s no secret that a chocolatier is nothing without its team, which is why we’re proud to shine a spotlight on the hardworking individuals making magic at our chocolate workshop.
The atelier was founded in August 2008 – and among the 50-strong team currently on-site, some of the original staff are still working there, having mastered their expert skills over the years. Some have even invited their family and friends to join the chocolate party, handing the craft down through the generations.
“Everything happens in one place”, says Debadutta “Deb” Jayaprakesh, our Technical Manager. “All Artisan du Chocolat products are made here.” He explains that there are a wide variety of chocolate crafts for our artisans to specialise in, and as no more than one or two people are employed for a particular job, there is a truly admirable range of cocoa skills on display at any one time. Examples include enrobing, moulding and decorating to the crafting of truffles, caramels and ganaches, collectively filling the workshop space with mouthwatering sights and aromas.
Chocolate moulding is one of the most advanced roles, given that there are so many elements involved. Those tasked with chocolate moulding have to keep a close eye and instinctive feel for such elements as volume, ratio, consistency and density. “Enrobing is another complex job, especially when enrobing a large amount of chocolate,” says Deb. “There is no scientific method when you do things in an artistic way – it requires real skill.”
For the most part, Artisan du Chocolat creations are crafted using centuries-old methods. Our silky smooth ganaches, for instance, are made in the traditional way, spread out over a table and cut into bite-sized squares, before being enrobed in molten chocolate to form elegant couture chocolate confections. The panning process – in which morsels like fruits or nuts are coated in chocolate – is also done manually, requiring careful touching, sensing and smoothing of the ingredients. We even have an on-site conch to prepare our own delectable couverture chocolate. What’s more, our cocoa experts take a very artistic approach to decorating the chocolates, using a multitude of tricky tempering processes and delicate designs.
That said, we do like to have fun with some nifty tools. For instance, Stephan mixers help to homogenise ganache mixtures, removing excess air to heighten a ganache’s quality and naturally extend its shelf life, while CAD-based technology allows us to design unique casing chocolate for moulding. Our favourite gadget is truly revolutionary, using our custom-made CAD designs to create fine, intricate designs through jets of water that “cut” into chocolate – currently, Artisan du Chocolat is the only chocolatier in the country to use a waterjet cutter.
Top-notch ingredients are key, focusing on what’s authentic and delicious. Our fruit purees are 100% natural, while ultra-soft truffle fillings are created using real double cream and butter. Hard caramels, flavoured toffees and even popping candies can also be found within the workshop, along with meltin- the-mouth meringues – all ready and waiting to add different layers of sensory experience to chocolates.
“Making Artisan du Chocolat products is a very spontaneous operation. There aren’t always hours of planning involved – things just happen, which is exciting,” says Deb. “But as long as you love chocolate, you’ll love working here.”