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East Anglian chocolate businesses honoured by Dragon Theo

PUBLISHED: 15:47 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 March 2018

Laura Cotton of Cocoa Delicious with her SBS Award from Theo Paphitis. Picture: Theo Paphitis Retail Group

Laura Cotton of Cocoa Delicious with her SBS Award from Theo Paphitis. Picture: Theo Paphitis Retail Group

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Petite and Sweet and Cocoa Delicious win SBS awards.

A duo of chocolate makers from East Anglia are buzzing after being handed SBS Awards from Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis this month.

Mother and daughter team Laura and Toni Caraccio-Hewitt of Petite and Sweet in Suffolk, and Laura Cotton of Norwich-based Cocoa Delicious were presented their awards by the renowned businessman at the annual Small Business Sunday conference in Birmingham at the end of last month.

“SBS is a weekly initiative Theo runs on Twitter,” says Laura of Petite and Sweet. “He started it in 2010 to promote how important small businesses are to the UK economy. In June last year mum tweeted him about our chocolate making kits. It had only been two months since we released the range and on the second tweet he picked up on us. He chooses you if he thinks your product will sell well, and retweets to over 500,000 followers!”

Laura and Toni met Theo at the conference, where they were both delighted to accept their award, and to mingle with other like-minded small business owners.

“We came away really inspired, and I couldn’t wait to go to work on Monday,” Laura smiles. “Theo is such a warm, lovely man.”

Based at a production kitchen in Baylham, the mum and daughter team started trading in 2014, launching their innovative chocolate kits for children last spring with four themes – sea creatures, farm animals, garden bugs and festive friends.

Laura explains: “There are lots of chocolate making kits out there but they tend to have low quality chocolate with a high percentage of vegetable fat. We’re trying to provide an option with less of the rubbish and a higher cocoa content. The chocolate is in individual bags and it’s piped by letters, so it’s interactive.

“We’ve run a lot of chocolate-making workshops and know children get bored easily just melting chocolate and putting it in moulds. We’re providing a kit where they actually have to concentrate!”

There are four chocolate lollies to make in each pack, with designs including a star fish, cow and bumblebee across the ranges, which are available at Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead, on the Petite and Sweet website and at Amazon.

“They’re a great alternative to an Easter egg!”

Joining Petite and Sweet in its success is Norwich’s bubbly chocolate maker Laura Cotton of Cocoa Delicious – a self-confessed chocoholic who also started her business in 2014.

“The award is great,” she said. “Theo is such an inspirational businessman and to have him and the team put aside a day for us [small businesses] to get together and provide talks and business advice with workshops is invaluable. It was a chance to see what’s possible if you’ve got a dream.”

The key to Laura’s success is her delightful hot chocolate spoons – some of them with a boozy twist.

“I love hot chocolate and that’s how my brand started. I’d seen similar products on the market and really liked them, but wanted to do something innovative and different with my own stamp on it.”

Laura started making her moulded hot chocolate spoons from her kitchen table, but soon outgrew the space, building a production kitchen in her garden – which is now also becoming too small for a business which saw her ship out thousands of stirrers at Christmas.

“My strapline is ‘innovative design with exquisite flavour’. I want something that looks good but tastes amazing as well. Some hot chocolate stirrers are just chocolate on a stick but I wanted mine to be high-end and to look good as a gift.”

Laura offers a variety of seasonal specialities and her bestsellers are the hot chocolate stirrers that come accompanied by their own naughty little pipette of alcohol to squeeze in – for adults only, obviously.

Last year she was blown away by the response to Drunken Santa – a milk chocolate Santa spoon with a pipette of Irish cream liqueur or rum.

Laura works with the English Whisky Company, Duppy Share rum and Sisserou Rum & Coconut Cream Liqueur, and is thinking about collaborating with a local gin-maker too this year to further expand her luscious range.

Look out this spring for her Easter Bunny, Boozy Bunny, Mini Egg and Duckling stirrers, as well as brand new slab bars (launched at the end of 2017) with an Easter theme. Non themed additions to the range include Dark Praline and Salted Caramel.

You can buy her goodies at Goldings Deli, The Norfolk Deli, Elveden Food Hall, notonthehighstreet.com and on the Cocoa Delicious website.


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