Chocolate Industry

Creative chocolatiers make bread soda into a tasty treat

Traditional Irish soda bread has been transformed into a new candy by two enterprising Newry chocolatiers who succeeded this month with innovation at the Great Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle.

Shane Neary and his wife Dorothy from NearyNógs Stoneground Chocolate Makers in the Morne Mountains presented the unique Irish Soda Bread chocolate bar at the huge festival which is widely regarded as ‘the industry standard’ for events in artisanal chocolate.

“Our Irish Soda Bread chocolate bar was sold out on the first day of the festival,” says Shane, a graphic designer by profession, who went on to establish Northern Ireland’s first and only premium chocolate business with Dorothy, at originally a nurse from Seattle. , and with the help of family and friends.

Both are now full-time chocolatiers and are dedicated to innovative ingredients and premium chocolate flavors. It is dedication with exceptional creativity that is behind their achievements and their widespread recognition among the best chocolatiers in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and beyond.

“We love experimenting with different styles and flavors of chocolate in our chocolate bars and truffles,” continues Shane. “We decided to take one of Northern Ireland’s most traditional and historic foods and blend it with quality chocolate and give it a unique flavor.”

What the enterprising and very creative chocolatiers have done is gently toast the buttermilk and soda Irish bread that is a traditional Ulster breakfast favourite, then crush it with a rolling pin. pastry before swirling it with 60% single-origin cocoa, delivering “a nice crispy chocolate bar, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate with chunks of Irish soda bread”.

Shane continues: “This is a small batch of limited edition chocolate from bean to bar with an Irish tradition of soda bread that is so loved from generation to generation on the island and abroad, in particularly in North America. We hoped it could spark the imagination of chocolate lovers at the festival with Irish roots and others eager to try something quite different and with a distinctive flavor. We were really surprised by the response of visitors to our booth at this extremely important show.

They source their premium beans from specialty growers around the world, including the Dominican Republic, Togo, and Ecuador, in varying levels of 60-100% cocoa, and also offer vegan and free options. gluten. Their wide range of products includes cocoa nibs, bars, chocolate fudge, truffles and drinking chocolate. There is also a popular monthly subscription service that encourages customers to try different flavors and styles of chocolate for one low price. It turns out to be a popular initiative in the dynamic world of chocolate.

Entrepreneurs have also teamed up with nearby artisans such as Killowen Distillery, also in the Mournes overlooking Rostrevor, to create whisky, gin and poitin flavors.

“These bars are inspired by a love of local traditions and timeless classics,” says Shane.

The company’s focus on conservation and solar technology, particularly to power the factory, led to an approach by iconic Fortnum and Mason food hall in London to create remarkable ‘Sailboat Chocolate Bars’ which were produced, transported and then shaped in their factory without any use of fossil fuels.

The talented duo could hardly have chosen a better event than the Seattle festival to showcase their strategic focus on chocolate innovation. It is considered the show that others around the world try to emulate. It is quite simply “the best artisanal chocolate fair in the world”.

The weekend event attracted over 200 exhibitors from around the world, NearyNógs Stoneground Chocolate being the only one in Northern Ireland, and featured a program of expert classes, workshops and seminars covering all aspects of the global artisanal chocolate industry.

The event, now in its 14th year, has welcomed 10,000 visitors, including cocoa farmers, ingredient suppliers, chefs and other artisan chocolatiers. This is an opportunity to present new products, discuss innovations, discover new business opportunities and more.

NearyNógs Stoneground Chocolate, which is based in a state-of-the-art factory open to tours and individual visitors wanting to see how they make their chocolates.

Duo: Shane and Dorothy Neary of NearyNógs Stoneground Chocolate in Mournes, near Rostrevor

The small company is committed to ethically sourcing single-origin specialty cocoa beans from farms in Central America, South America, the Caribbean islands and West Africa.

The team then sorts each cocoa bean by hand, roasts it gently, grinds it on a stone, ages it and then tempers it to make beautiful chocolate bars. It is made without additives, emulsifiers or artificial flavors. Everything is handcrafted and shaped by the small company’s commitment to preserving the environment

“All packaging is made from recycled sources and is either recyclable or compostable after use. Mailboxes and paper tapes are also made from recycled materials,” adds Shane.

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