If you think being vegan means giving up your favourite chocolate hit, think again. Sisters Phoebe and Sophie Middleton, of Raw Candy, have plans to serve the island’s healthy-eating chocoholics.
Raw chocolate might sound as if you’re heading to the forest and munching on cacao beans but, in fact, it describes a delicious product that’s made from cold-pressed cacao butter and beans that have not been heated above 45 degrees.
This process helps preserve the cacao’s natural nutrients and it’s where the sisters’ products will differ from the mass-produced offerings readily available in the market. Phoebe explains: “The average chocolate bar is about 20 per cent cocoa [heat-treated cacao] and is half sugar. Using the heating process helps with tempering the chocolate so it stays more solid but, once heat is added, it reduces the amount of nutrients.”
Having long been interested in clean eating, the sisters studied raw nutrition at the famed Matthew Kenney Culinary in Los Angeles. But Phoebe adds: “I didn’t do chocolate there; that really has been a process of trial and error. I wanted to be able to live this lifestyle but without giving up the things I love!”
The sisters launched Raw Candy by selling their products at markets, Words Bookstore Café, Trousseau and Roots Cafe but, such has been the positive response, they’re now setting up their own shop and café, due to open in Seef in the next couple of months.
And it sounds like a treat for sweetie lovers with Sophie saying: “The menu will be chocolate, pralines and raw versions of old trashy candy like peanut butter cups, coconut bars and cookie dough. We’ll also have things like turmeric latte using nut milks and butters, granola, cakes and salted caramel – we think of it as sugar for the cool kids!”
The journey has been what Sophie describes as a “labour of love” with all the recipes developed by the sisters and the products all handmade. She says: “We don’t like stuff to sit in packets so it’s all fresh ingredients made in small batches. Working with raw ingredients is challenging but very worthwhile.”
Phoebe adds: “It involves things like soaking buckwheat then sprouting it and dehydrating – that means you’ve got a three-day process before you’ve got a useable ingredient, so it is quite labour intensive and time consuming. We don’t use white or brown sugar, only low GI coconut sugar because it’s raw and unprocessed – which means you don’t get the ‘sugar crash’. And there are no chemicals used in any of our products.”
“These products are also great for people who have allergies,” says Sophie. “They’re suitable for those with gluten intolerance and, of course, there’s no dairy. They’re also organic and you can be guaranteed that what you’re eating hasn’t sat in a pot for weeks at a time.”
And an indication of the sisters’ passion comes in the confession that they were approached by a larger company to supply their brand but turned down the offer.
“We want to maintain the handmade, boutique feel,” says Phoebe, with Sophie adding: “We don’t want to get greedy and flood the market and spoil it. Because the chocolate is so fragile, you have to be very careful and it has to be right.”
For news of the opening follow @raw.candy on Instagram.