What defines hand-made chocolate, in particular, hand-made chocolate bars? This question frequently springs into my mind.
Nowadays, what exactly defines hand-made is a grey area, and many mass produced products still hang on to the reference that their products are hand-made. What is the producer’s perception of hand-made? What is the customer’s? Does hand-made reflect quality? Does it define a small, artisanal business making goods at home? Can you maintain consistency and meet market demand if you remain truly hand-made?
In the early days I referred to my bars as being hand-made. After all, the inclusions were stirred into the pre-tempered chocolate, or added in as the chocolate went into the moulds, then hand-foiled, and outer-wrapped by hand, too.
But when I moved from the small artisan unit, where the bars were being made, to a large scale production unit with its vastness of stainless steel I reconsidered using the phrase hand-made for my chocolate bars. If bars are being tempered by hand on a marble slab, couverture hand poured into individual moulds, the moulds vibrated by hand and inclusions scattered by hand, then to me, they are hand-made. I would be very interested in legislation coming into play to put a strict line on what is defined as hand-made, and what isn’t.
My customers dictate they want consistency with taste and appearance, and the machine process helps guarantee this. I’m now much more at ease with the machine process; so much so that I plan for the bars to be made 100 per cent by machine, and machine-wrapped, too. My wish is to grow my business and be able to employ a team too.
Food for thought
Has the word ‘hand-made’ become over-used/manipulated to lose its specialness defining true small artisans? Is this what has become of the word ‘luxury’ ….. over used/manipulated and definition lost?