Aradhana, Raw Chocolate Alchemist
I have been dreaming about chocolate ever since I was a child
I have always been a foodie. We didn't have a TV when I was growing up so I created alternative entertainment which centred around reading, cooking and handicrafts, and playing outdoors. Dolls' tea parties, baking biscuits, visiting bluebell woods, picking blackberries and making crumble.
Although this didn't give me much street cred at the time, I am now immensely grateful to have been brought up in nature and creating beauty with my hands.
My favourite author was (still is, truth be told) is Roald Dahl, who lived in a nearby village. I devoured all his children's books and was utterly fascinated by Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator (though I was a rather scared by the shape-shifting Vermicious Knids).
I have a distinct memory of being in town, aged around 8, and longing to make my own chocolate - but not knowing how I could get hold of the ingredients. There were no Oompa Loompas visiting in the real world. And so there I left that dream for over 30 years.
The first time I tried Raw Chocolate...
... was in 2007 at a local festival in Wiltshire where I had just moved. There was a healthy eating stall offering raw chocolate samples. I was definitely into healthy eating and had heard of raw food but hadn’t met it in the flesh before.
I only remember being unimpressed by the chocolate itself and my sceptical (ex) partner casting aspersions on how it could be raw. It challenged me to make my raw chocolate truly amazing and memorable.
I have been making Raw Chocolate since 2009
A few months after I first tasted raw chocolate, I met a woman who shared some that she had ‘whipped up’ the night before. She told me how easy it was and this time it was I who was disbelieving.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I got my hands on the raw cacao ingredients when my sister gave them to me for my birthday.
And so my dream began to take shape!
Here I am making raw chocolate in the B&B kitchen on a visit to New York in 2011.
I decided to create my own range of Raw Chocolate bars in 2016
I had already been selling bars of my chocolate on a small scale for years at my raw food workshops. The decision to sell my raw chocolate on a larger scale came about when two events coincided in November 2016. I got a stone grinder and I got a job in a chocolate shop.
The quality and smoothness of the raw chocolate I was now able to make was the key to believing it was good enough to sell commercially. I saw that people were paying good money for chocolate in this shop so I knew the market was there, and in my heart I believed mine was better.
It really went against my principles to sell ‘normal’ chocolate with sugar whilst knowing there was an infinitely better way to eat chocolate! So I was determined to succeed with my range of vegan, sugar-free Enchanted Chocolate bars.
And when I'm not making chocolate, what I love to do, as a source of joy, nourishment and happiness, is...
Being with trees – I am so nourished by being in nature, or even looking at the trees from my window at home. I’m very happy that the Japanese created the concept and name for forest bathing (shinrin-yoku).
Hugging and time with friends – real life connection is super important to me. Hugging could be with my partner, a friend or a pet. It brings me back into my body and my heart and reminds me there is so much more to life than my to-do list. I miss my dog, she was always up for a cuddle and she taught me unconditional love.
Beauty in all things – as a Libran my ruling planet is Venus which is all about love and beauty. I find beauty everywhere, unless I have my gloomy-glasses on and even then, spying the beauty of a detail can snap me out of it. One of my favourite quotations is from William Morris who said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ – and I would add that ideally it would be both. I regularly fall in love with teaspoons or the perfection of a chocolate bar.
Good food – the act of cooking and sharing food brings me much joy. It’s very therapeutic for me too. Conversely, bad food makes me very unhappy indeed.
Patchwork and handicrafts – back to my childhood, this is how I learned to entertain myself. It’s so relaxing to sew by hand or knit. It also feeds my love of beauty. My current project is themed around a vegetable garden. I wish I would give myself permission to sew more often!
My heroesJai-Jagdeesh, a singer in the kundalini yoga world. I admire her radiance and overflowing joy, her effortless grace and beauty, her innocent humour and her no-nonsense attitude. To me she’s a true spiritual warrior of the heart.
Juliette Binoche’s character Vianne in ‘Chocolat’. Quite apart from being a fellow chocolate alchemist, I love her embodiment of magic, mystique, sassiness and sexiness.
Judi Dench, who also starred in ‘Chocolat’ where she revealed her tenderness and vulnerability beneath a strong exterior. A veritable woman of power.
I’m seeing a theme emerging in these women of nobility, grace and beauty with clear boundaries and truth expressed with love. That’s what I aspire to.
My partner, for his love and seemingly endless patience, his beaming smile and sparkly eyes, and being my number one chocolate taster, always available for duty 😉
My parents, for their selfless service in creating community. This sees them involved in all sorts of projects in their town, from their respective churches, to promoting understanding between different faith groups, to supporting the homeless and Syrian refugees.
If you are wondering about my name
Aradhana is my spiritual name, given through kundalini yoga. It is the mantras from this tradition that grabbed my heart and pulled me in many years ago and now they are part of my daily life. I use some of these mantras in my chocolate making.
I trained as a kundalini yoga teacher and I taught classes for a couple of years when I lived in the Bath area.