A clutch of chocolate makers and chocolatiers are producing sublime Sussex chocolate in East and West Sussex. We spoke to a few of them to discover the stories and the passions behind their sweet creations.
We love to support our local businesses here in Sussex. Having recently interviewed one local chocolate artisan, this week we’re introducing some Sussex chocolate makers and chocolatiers together with the stories and passions behind their chocolate creations.
Rowdy and Fancy’s Chocolate, Forest Row, East Sussex
Organic chocolate, handmade in the East Sussex countryside by chocoholics. What’s not to love? We spoke to Annys from Rowdy and Fancy’s Chocolate, based in Forest Row, to find out a bit more about their range of artisan chocolate.
Rowdy and Fancy’s was founded by two best friends, Lynne and Emily in 2013. Annys joined them later on when they needed extra help. She fell in love with the magic of making chocolate but when work and life took over and Annys’ chocolate life took a temporary pause.
Sadly, Emily became ill and passed away. After running the business alone for a while Lynne decided to sell the company. The stars aligned and Lynne sent Annys a life-changing text. ‘Would you like to buy Rowdy and Fancy’s?’ Annys had just quit her job and booked a one-way ticket to India but Lynne agreed to keep the company going until Annys returned. In January 2017 Annys took over and has lived, breathed and concocted delectable chocolate flavour combos ever since. And the name Rowdy and Fancy’s? Lynne and Emily’s nicknames for each other.
Annys from Rowdy and Fancy’s Chocolates
Rowdy and Fancy’s has recently been certified as organic by the Soil Association. The beans come from a combination of fair trade cocoa growers all over Africa. African origin chocolate is high quality and has a deep cocoa finish which gives the chocolate its richness. It has the ability to handle added flavours well which makes for interesting and unusual flavour combos. Chocolatier, Annys uses this high quality base chocolate which she tempers and flavours to create especially tempting artisan chocolate.
Unique and delicious flavours
The 100g chocolate bar comes in 17 delectable flavours from coffee and cardamom, ginger and black pepper to bread and butter pudding. Flavours that Annys is excited to bring to life. More traditional flavours like simply salted dark and smooth milk are part of the production too. Mini bars of 48g are available in 12 of the flavours and there’s a mini bar subscription. If you didn’t think it could get any better there are also honeycomb chunks coated in milk or dark chocolate. Drooling yet?
The Sweet rose, organic milk chocolate, is delicately flavoured with rose oil and is divine. After the first bite, you’ll be tempted to scoff the lot in one. Don’t. It’s a chocolate that should be savoured slowly and deliciously one square at a time. That first taste is absolutely sublime. If you can bear to, savour the bar over a few days, let the memory of the taste fade and you’ll get to experience the ecstasy of how good it tastes all over again.
The lime chilli bar tantalises the senses. First, you’ll smell the lime, then taste the chocolate followed by a surprise kick of chilli. Annys loves watching people as they sample the chocolate. One by one the taste sensations kick in and reflect in their expressions, usually ending in a smile.
This Sussex chocolate is made in small batches before being hand-wrapped in plastic-free packaging which is recyclable and compostable. The artwork on the packaging was specially designed by an artist in Forest Row. It plays on the idea of temptation from the garden of Eden and how things might have worked out differently if Eve had offered Adam chocolate. Apple or chocolate? It’s a no brainer really. Look out for the strategically placed cocoa pod on the wrapper. To try the chocolate for yourself you can buy from their online shop or in various shops around Sussex. You’ll find a list on their website.
Rowdy and Fancy’s believe that chocolate has the ability to bring a smile to someone’s face. It’s this small but mighty act that they aim to achieve. Sussex Bloggers are happy to confirm that Rowdy and Fancy’s chocolate more than meets their goal.
Rye Chocolates, Rye, East Sussex
Rye Chocolates is our second Sussex chocolate. The small, family-run business was founded in 2016 by Paulina and her fiancé. After pressing the pause button on their careers in education and law, they set out on a new and different path. Chocolatiers. Rye Chocolates was started up with bundles of enthusiasm, a love of chocolate and an old broken chocolate machine called Lilly. The rest, as they say, is history.
The couple inspired from their world travels wanted to bring original, high quality hand-made chocolate to the British market. The finest single-origin cocoa is sourced from ethical producers who are passionate about supporting their local community, the environment and paying their workers fairly. Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic supply the base chocolate. Other ingredients are sourced from nearer to home, like honey from Northiam.
Rye chocolate is crafted with love and passion and comes in unusual flavour combos. Think orange whisky marmalade and dark chocolate or rhubarb and dark chocolate. Over 30 flavours are available to choose from in an ever-evolving product range which is based on seasonal events and themes. You’ll find hand-made chocolate eggs and bunnies at Easter time. Seasonal flavours include hot cross bun and Christmas pudding chocolate.
The lemon curd bar with its sweet, tart filling balanced with the medium-dark smoky notes of the 64% Peruvian chocolate sounds divine.
Inspiration comes from faraway places and those nearer to home. Their latest bar is a unique Gin and Tonic bar using local 1066 Hastings gin. One of our favourite Sussex gins. If you’d like to know more about local gins check out our Sussex Gin review.
Creative Flavour Combinations
The type of chocolate is chosen based on its profile and the flavours that will be added to it. This ensures a balanced bar with flavours that complement each other perfectly. We tried the organic peanut butter and sea salt 43.5% Venezuelan chocolate. It had just the right amount of peanut butter in a gorgeously creamy chocolate and finished with a mouth-watering hit of sea salt. The rich 64.5% Costa Rica cherry chocolate is another favourite. Once the dark chocolate starts to melt in the mouth a rush of bitter sweet cherry lifts the palate and cuts through the intense chocolate.
The 71% Ecuadorian dark chocolate and crystallised ginger disappeared all too quickly. The bitter dark chocolate was tempered beautifully by the warmth of the fiery ginger. We loved the chewiness of the ginger combined with the silkiness of the chocolate.
Rye Chocolate is handmade in small batches and sold in their shop at 110A High Street, Rye. An excellent reason to hot-foot it down to Rye, one of our favourite Sussex towns. There’s an online store which ships this excellent Sussex chocolate across the globe. Gift cards are also available.
Read about what to see and do in Rye for your next visit.
J.Cocoa, Hassocks, West Sussex
We recently interviewed the man (or should that be genius) behind J.Cocoa, James Hull who makes his chocolate in a wooden cabin in his garden in Hassocks. He’s the only chocolate maker in Sussex that we know who makes bean to bar chocolate, ethically, sustainably and with zero-waste packaging. He works directly with the growers and co-operatives sourcing the highest quality cocoa beans. What’s more, he’s happy to pay over five-times the Fairtrade rate to ensure the livelihoods and sustainability of his suppliers. James’ chocolate making adventure is a fascinating story which you can read in full here, Bean to bar chocolate from J. Cocoa
A bar of J Cocoa chocolate is not to be rushed. Savour the flavours as they slowly develop in the mouth. Their range includes a number of single-origin dark chocolates, all smooth, rich and intense. We particularly loved the Gran Nativo Banco Cocoa Beans 72%. The Coffee Chocolate also stood out with the flavour blossoming in your mouth to become more complex over time.
All the chocolate we tried was superb but our absolute favourite was the sweet-tasting Caramelised Milk Chocolate with subtle burnt toffee notes slowly emerging as you let the chocolate linger on the tongue.
James’ chocolate comes in a range of sizes from 10g miniatures right up to 1kg slabs! Plus he makes two superb hot chocolates as well as his delectable signature Dark Chocolate Inca Sun Salt Caramels.
So there you have some of the best Sussex chocolate. What’s your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
The chocolate featured in this post was kindly gifted for the purposes of review, however, all opinions, thoughts and love of a Sussex chocolate fest are entirely our own…
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