East Anglian chocolatier launches new bean-to-bar brand Tosier

Tosier is a new brand of bean-to-bar chocolate made in East Anglia. Picture: Tosier

Tosier is a new brand of bean-to-bar chocolate made in East Anglia. Picture: Tosier - Credit: Archant

Deanna Tilston's new brand, Tosier, is a range of four luxurious, single origin chocolate bars, made in East Anglia from scratch.

Freshly made chocolate bars. Picture: Tosier

Freshly made chocolate bars. Picture: Tosier - Credit: Archant

'Real' chocolate, pure chocolate without additives and binders, is one of the healthiest treats you can pop in your mouth. Packed with antioxidants, scientists have made all kinds of claims about the so-called 'superfood'. Some even suggest we should all have a square or two of proper dark chocolate every day to ward off ill health (I'm up for that).

But finding the right kind of chocolate is akin to panning for gold at the end of a rainbow. The bean-to-bar type hyped in the media as the nutritional food of the gods, isn't what you're going to find down the confectionary aisle on your weekly shop. No, here you'll find pappy, insipid imposters, all milky and overly sucrose in their fancy packaging.

All is not lost, however. A merry band of at least 30 cacao splattered, aproned Willy Wonka-alikes up and down the country are now making some incredible real chocolate for us to enjoy.

In Suffolk, Chris Brennan has been making (cacao) waves with Pump Street chocolate, crafted from single origin beans.

Beautiful raw cacao pods. Picture: Tosier

Beautiful raw cacao pods. Picture: Tosier - Credit: Archant

And following swiftly on his tail is Ipswich-based Deanna Tilston, who officially launched Tosier Chocolate at last weekend's Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival in Snape. Although she admits she never set out to be a chocolatier - in fact, her husband, Jonathan is the cook in the household, and her son is a chef.

It was a bout of digestion problems that led her along the path less trodden. 'I discovered I had to have my gallbladder out,' Deanna winces at the memory. 'I had these stones in my gallbladder. But I'm not a hospital person and when they mentioned taking them out I said 'I'll change my diet, I'll change my diet'!'

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A nutritionist advised her she needed more magnesium in her diet and after shelling out £16 for a pack of pills, she thought, surely there's another way?

'I looked into magnesium and saw it was in chocolate. I know chocolate. I like chocolate. So I looked into it more and read about what good chocolate was, because I was looking to have a cleaner diet. The chocolate we buy has all these additives, shellac and Arabic gum. We went to the Chocolate Show two years ago and I just thought, I'm going to make chocolate. I bought two kilos of beans.

Raw cacao beans ready for chocolate making. Picture: Tosier

Raw cacao beans ready for chocolate making. Picture: Tosier - Credit: Archant

'It was a bit heavy, taking the husks off. It was hard work. But I had beginners luck. I tempered it and it came out really nice. It was complete luck but it tasted okay so I thought I could work on it. If it had gone completely wrong I wouldn't have done anything again in that sphere.'

Following an online course in Canada, and a workshop at Cocoa Town in Atlanta, where Deanna couldn't resist buying essential, labour-saving machinery, the seeds for Tosier were planted.

As with anything, your finished product is only as good as what goes into it, so the fledging chocolatier plunged into researching the best, ethically sourced, beans.

'They're good beans. And why I've decided to make all the bars 70% is, for me, it's all about the bean and the flavour profile. They smell great, and the quality is really good. But it's been a long journey actually. There's been a lot of problems along the way. Getting the beans, and quality and moths – all the things no one talks about that you have to overcome. But I love working with it and the strange alchemy of it. It's so quirky in all its ways.'

Using pure cacao, cacao butter and a little unrefined organic cane sugar, Deanna's chocolate bars are the ultimate in 'clean eating' and she's perfected four varieties in the range. Her favourite? The 2016 harvest Alto Beni Cacao from Bolivia. 'I love it. It's got a really nice mouthfeel and buttery finish. It's a good one for people who don't eat dark chocolate. They ask what's in it. It's so fruity, almost citrusy.'

Dark chocolate connoisseurs, she adds, with appreciate the complex figgy, tart notes of her Acul du Nord variety, made with beans from Haiti.

'What I love is before I even make the chocolate opening the sack of beans. The aroma is wonderful. The strange thing is different roasts smell differently. You get to know the scent of each roast.'

Tosier chocolate is certainly unique in its flavour and scent – but also in its name. Tosier, although unusual and French-sounding, is the family name of a former servant to King George I at Hampton Court. Thomas Tosier's wife Grace had a chocolate shop in London, and Thomas was called upon every day to serve the king his restorative hot chocolate.

Tosier's chocolate making kitchen at Hampton was recently uncovered, and when Deanna and Jonathan visited, they knew they had to use his name.

'I wanted a name that was relevant to chocolate. And after looking at the kitchen that was it. Another reason I like the name is he had to work really hard grinding the chocolate, and I started out with small machines so I could really relate to that!'

Tosier chocolate will soon be available in independent food stores in East Anglia, and will be available to buy from tomorrow (October 1) here. tosier.co.uk

If you're heading to London for Chocolate Week, you'll be able to buy the chocolate from the Bean to Bar Britain pop-u shop at 14 Marshalsea Road, SE1 from October 9 to 15.

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