Dorset - - Well Sea­soned - WORDS: Sue Quinn PHO­TOS: Michal Lucky

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

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