I“ t used to be that we had a chocolate factory in our house, but now we live in a chocolate factory,” shrugs a smiling Iris Stork, one half of award-winning chocolate company Solkiki. She isn’t kidding. Here in her Dorset cottage, chocolate has taken over: boxes of packaging are stacked against walls, reams of stickers denoting Solkiki’s latest awards are strewn across the dining table
Deep in the Dorset countryside something magical is being crafted from the world’s finest cacao beans by a couple
who are blissfully in love with bean to bar chocolate
and hessian sacks of cacao beans are piled in the corridor. Through the stone wall of the cottage I can hear the thrum of chocolate grinders in the adjoining workshop turning beans into the sumptuous paste that will eventually become chocolate. And – joyfully – the air is heady with the scent of cocoa.
It’s an exceptional setup for a chocolate factory, but somehow fitting given the extraordinary bars Iris and husband Bob Spink produce. With no paid staff, the pair makes some of the world’s best chocolate, and have won more than 60 national and international awards in just three years. They belong to a relatively new breed of ‘bean to bar’ makers who produce chocolate from scratch, controlling every stage of the process to bring out the best
All natural colours, never any additives or essential oils or extracts. Just the whole ingredient as lightly processed as possible goes into a Solkik bar