Chatting chocolate with Cocoa Mester
With Easter fast approaching we decided to have a chat with cocoa connoisseur Anna Sterling who heads up Cocoa Mester in Kelham Island. Read on to find out how it all began, her thoughts on white chocolate and what satisfies her sweet tooth.
Hi Anna! How are you?
I am well thank you, but very busy with Easter!
I bet, you must be constantly covered in chocolate! (Not that that is a bad position to be in) So, tell us all about how this passion of yours began?
I think my passion started when I was a child. I remember making truffles and fudge from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipe book as a child. I was fascinated by the idea that you could make sweets. But it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I decided to have a career change and learn how to do it professionally. I originally went to university and studied Fine Art. I then trained at Sheffield College in Patisserie a few years after I graduated.
You recently moved into the lovely Krynkl building in Kelham Island, what made you make that decision?
Yes I moved into Krynkl in November! I work alone so I thought it would be great to be connected and in close proximately to other businesses and start-ups. I also wanted to be in this area, as it has connections to Sheffield Steel Heritage and the story of “the little Mesters”.
Where do you source your ingredients?
My ingredients are sourced from a local supplier in Sheffield (Keylink). But the cacao comes mainly from Colombia and regions of South America.
A lot of people say white chocolate isn’t proper chocolate. What are your thoughts on this?
White chocolate uses only cocoa butter extracted from the cocoa bean and not the cocoa nib. So it’s a very different product to dark and milk chocolate. When we talk about the beneficial qualities of chocolate we are referring to the cocoa which is not used in white chocolate.
Just like all chocolate, you can get different qualities of white chocolate. The white chocolate in Cocoa Mester products is 40% cocoa butter (many white chocolates on the market are 28%) and uses cocoa butter that has not been deodorised (this is a process that makes cocoa butter smell a particular way for appropriate use in cosmetics) and so it has the natural aromas and taste of Colombian cocoa butter.
With Easter around the corner, have you created any seasonal products?
Yes! We have the following:
Artisan Easter egg (dark or milk chocolate) with either a white chocolate chick inside or a bag of mixed chocolate buttons.
Artisan Easter egg (dark or milk chocolate ) with gin & tonic with a twist of lime chocolates inside.
Mini salted caramel eggs.
I’m also doing some large limited edition eggs but they are yet to be done so people who follow me on social media will see when they are ready.
Do friends and family get to be your lucky taste testers?
Yes, friends and family do get to try my experiments. I think my family in particular benefit!