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Chocolate Extravagance With Choccywoccydoodah

TOAST chats to legendary chocolaterie Choccywoccydoodah

Easter is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing…CHOCOLATE! And lots of it. TOAST.Life chats to Christine Taylor, creative and managing director of legendary chocolaterie Choccywoccydoodah to learn more about their incredible, edible art and to hear what they’ve got planned for the most chocolate-filled time of the year.



What is it about chocolate? Just the word conjures up nostalgic feelings of joy for me. White, dark, milk, loaded with nuts, fruit, salted caramel – the list goes on. It is of course completely delicious, creamy and comforting, and despite the fact that for many of us chocolate is readily available, it still always feels like a treat.        

“The correct word for chocolate is Theobroma cacao - this translates as ‘food of the Gods’’ explains Christine Taylor, creative and managing director of legendary chocolaterie Choccywoccydoodah.

Well that explains it then. And if Theobroma cacao is indeed the food of the Gods – then Choccywoccydoodah is its highest temple. Born and bred in Brighton, the aptly named Choccywoccydoodah is a world famous and gloriously, mouth-wateringly, mindboggling cake and chocolate company. Their unforgettable name is synonymous with handcrafted chocolate-y delights that are indulgent, unusual, imaginative, beautiful and completely delicious, but despite it’s current success the company in fact began completely by accident, back in 1994. Christine was working as a designer in London and her now business partner, Christine Garratt, was also working in the capital as a tax analyst; both a far cry from running a chocolate empire of dreams.

“We both wanted a change of career and so we pooled our resources to buy a tiny café in the back streets of Brighton. We were very naive and not at all business savvy. The cafe only sat 15 people so we were also poor as church mice!” explains Christine.

“But it was popular - we had queues lining the street every lunchtime and weekend. Luckily for us the shop next door became vacant and as there was an internal connecting door, we took on the lease and intended to double our seating, but sadly Brighton council were not so keen to lose a retail space…”

And so the two Christines sat with the keys to a shop that they didn’t know what to do with; retail had never been the plan. And so they did what most us would do in a time of such crisis…

“We got drunk” says Christine.

“We opened a bottle of gin and by the time we reached the bottom we had decided that we wanted a chocolate shop and it would be called Choccywoccydoodah. Stone cold sober we still liked the idea. And the name”

And so, the glorious chocolate hotspot that is Choccywoccydoodah was born. There are now two extensive shops, a popular online emporium and a hugely successful cake business that has achieved a ‘cult status’ level of popularity. Gin, it seems, really does hold all the answers.

Choccywoccydoodah

Choccywoccydoodah Window

Choccywoccydoodah Display

“We taught ourselves everything - techniques, tempering, product development, selling. We built chocolate fantasies and then we sold them” Christine explains.

“As the business grew we came to understand that although chocolate was our medium, creativity was what we sold. We passed our skills onto our staff as we slowly expanded the business and focussed on the art and design of what we made, feeling confident that our ingredients were good quality and well sourced”

Many of the products that Christine first started making back in 1994 are still some of their most popular now – their dark, dense chocolate cake, made with lashings of molten dark chocolate and black cocoa is still their best seller to this day, and their slabs of buttery toffee popcorn enrobed in milk Belgian couverture are known as ‘choccycrack’, thanks to its addictive nature.

“People have grown up on them and expect their children to do the same” explains Christine.

Chocolate Popcorn

Choccywoccydoodah’s two aforementioned locations can be found in Brighton, also known as ‘the Mothership’, and London also known as ‘The Flagship’. The Flagship has recently relocated to Covent Garden from Soho and boasts a shop, a cake salon, a café and a decadently styled parlour, which is bookable for events of up to 10 people. The Mothership is tucked away in Brighton’s famous Lanes and is housed in 3 ancient fisherman’s cottages; there’s a shop, café, al fresco terrace, a decadent ‘cake garden’ and a secret space upstairs known as ‘The Witches Kitchen’ – an atmospherically decorated event space which features the witch’s brooms, her stove and her storytelling chair, as well as a large table upon which a chocolate feast is served. 

“The witch lives in the attic, she keeps the ghosts at bay” grins Christine.  

“We hope that we enable our customers to create happy memories when they visit. Chocolate and cake always helps, but we also pride ourselves on our customer service. We genuinely love our customers, many of whom we know well through being involved with the momentous occasions in their lives. Births, deaths and marriages. Everyone eats cake!”

In addition to their mouth-watering chocolate products, which range from chocolate popcorn lollies and chocolate marshmallow slabs and to dinosaur shaped Easter eggs and solid chocolate hard sculpted animals, Choccywoccydoodah are known worldwide for their show stopping celebration cakes. We’re talking about dense, dark, moist chocolate cakes, layered with white truffle, enrobed in milk Belgian coating with a dark runover, topped with a leaning tower of white marshmallows, 15 layers tall! Or how about a 2-tier creation topped a beautifully crafted bird watching over its chocolate nest, decorated with handcrafted blossoms, green rose leaves and an antique sculpted sash complete with a personal message. And that is just the tip of the chocolate cake iceberg.

“There are a lot of very creative people at Choccywoccydoodah, highly trained artists, designers and free thinkers. We share the creative process behind each collection, to make it as witty and edible as we can” Christine explains proudly.

“Sometimes somebody has a genius suggestion to make for a particular season, inspired by a holiday or experience they’ve had, which we all work on to turn it into chocolate. Sometimes we disagree on what a collection theme should be and have to fight it out. Ultimately, I get the final say, of course!”

Swans Cake

Choccy Cakes

Choccy Extravagance

Choccy Garden Collection

Clock Choccywoccydoodah Cakes

Another one of their show stopping creations is their ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ cake – an incredible, completely handmade edible work of art that features a painted tattoo heart, gothic-style roses and a life-size solid chocolate skull (or two!). This cake, and their other similarly elaborate and completely stunning bespoke creations, has placed Choccywoccydoodah firmly on the best-cakes-in-the-world map.

“The bespoke cakes are all a team effort and the most elaborate ones have at least 3 weeks labour involved. They are highly personalised designs that are sculpted, carved and hand coloured to order, using techniques that are completely unique to us” explains Christine.

“Many of them are for private parties and celebrities and because of that we don’t discuss them - our discretion is as famous as our confections. If the customer wants to discuss it or have it in the press, then that is their prerogative and cake, not ours. However I can say that our cakes have been on the tables of royalty and government, rock stars, pop stars, film stars and the subject of at least seven TV series!”

Til Death Us Do Part

Baroque Cake Choccywoccydoodah

Every year Choccywoccydoodah launch new collections of cakes and chocolates, with a huge and spectacular window display to herald their arrival.  Every Christmas, Easter, Summer and Halloween they pull out all the stops and transform their shops – there’s no doubt that they have a serious sense of style and opulent occasion.

“Some of our products are only available very briefly and dedicated customers wait patiently for a year at a time to buy their seasonal favourites” explains Christine.

“Last summer was the launch of ‘Doggymoggydoodah’ to celebrate our love of animals. All of us at Choccywoccydoodah are as famous for our love of animals as we are chocolate! Doggymoggydoodah has now become a sister company to Choccywoccydoodah, to enable us to continuously be involved with animals. Many of our customers are also passionate about their pets and want to buy a chocolate version!”

“Obviously - only humans should ever eat chocolate - it’s highly toxic for animals” she adds.

Doggywoggydoodah

Choccywoccydoodah Art

When I mention Choccywoccydoodah’s Christmas display – we’re not talking a chocolate nativity scene or an edible Father Christmas, oh no. This is a Choccywoccydoodah-style window display – Christmas last year was of course panto themed, and for Easter they are paying homage to Carmen Miranda and her flamingos, obviously.

“We’ve crafted gigantic Easter eggs with tropical flowers and fruit, to frame Carmen. Chocolate pineapples crammed with runny salted caramels as Easter eggs, boxes of pink, white, dark and milk flamingo eggs fill our tables, alongside chocolate monkeys, dazzling one-off chocolate eggs, as well as our usual chocolate” Christine enthuses.

“What we do is incredibly self indulgent. We are so lucky that people like it, buy it and come back for more!”

As you can imagine, Choccywoccydoodah’s expert team of creative chocolatiers undergo a lengthy in-house training schedule that generally lasts an impressive 3 years, and every team member has a specific, specialist skill. They use no machinery whatsoever (apart from baking ovens) and so absolutely everything is done by hand, and by instinct. 

“Chocolate is the magic ingredient in every spell. If you’re frightened of it, it will go off temper. If it likes your attitude it will stay in good temper and perform at its best. There’s no hurrying it, no shortcuts, no cheats. If you’re angry, it’s angrier. Temper is everything to chocolate” explains Christine.

‘Good quality dark chocolate is an under rated super food full of nutrients, anti-oxidants and health giving properties. It should be treated with enormous respect and love, eaten daily and enjoyed. It’s lower in sugar than other chocolates and packed with cocoa and cocoa butter -  a little bit goes a long way”

But aside from top quality chocolate, boundless creativity, dedication, hard work and exceptional craftsmanship, there is another key ingredient that ensures Choccywoccydoodah’s well deserved reputation as one of the finest chocolateries in the land…

“The secret of our success is that we all love what we do, and therefore what each other does. We love the people who buy what we do and then come back for more. 

"We love cake. We love chocolate. After all, what’s not to love?”

Quite.

Take a look at this year's Easter Collection, available via their shops now. 

Easter Cakes

Easter Choccywoccydoodah

Eastereggs Choccywoccydoodah

Eastereggs

Nesting Sparrwos

Easter Eggs Choccy


Choccywoccydoodah’s chocolates start at £4.99 for a bag of delicious chocolate callets, cakes start at £39.99 for 15 portions, bespoke cakes start at £450. For more information about Choccywoccydoodah visit their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book.  

 

Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 22 March 2018

  chocolate, chocolatier, easter

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