I was incredibly lucky to spend some time in glorious Scotland earlier this year and in visiting the wee town of Aberfeldy, struck the proverbial chocolate goldmine! It was my great pleasure to spend some time with Charlotte of Charlotte Flower Chocolates, a wonderful chocolatier with a panache for beautifully crafted handmade chocolates, with flavors inspired by natural ingredients. She literally roams the hedgerows and landscape for local and seasonal ingredients, fruits, plants and flowers, such as elderflower, wild mint, rhubarb, meadowsweet, hazel and beech nuts, honey and roses.
During our short visit, Charlotte had just received a new cocoa bean and was experimenting with roasting techniques and timing. Curious to know how she came to this line of work, we asked, and rolled up our sleeves and listened while helping a while to separate the cocoa from the warm husk shells. Charlotte shared her background of being a forester and forager by nature. After an encounter with a well-known Parisian chocolatier, she began on a journey to see how she could combine local wild flavors with high quality chocolate in uniquely Scottish ways. I’m guessing there were hiccups, albeit delicious ones, along the way!
I’m not the only one who thinks these sweet creations are divine; several were celebrated by the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards – including Product of the Year for her Meadowsweet Thins – and at the British heats of the International Chocolate Awards – winning the Gold Award for her Smoked Hebridean sea salt and Java Milk chocolate.
Our conversation turned to sustainability, naturally, and we heard about her passion for fair trade and environmentally sound practices. I was sold. Out came my purse to take as many as I could carry with me, to share with family and friends.
A lovely delicious day!
“When gathering herbs and blossoms from the wild, we are careful to ensure that we are only taking a small amount from any one place; we are very careful about avoiding damage to the plants as we pick. We are members of the Scottish Wild Harvests Association (www.scottishwildharvests.org.uk )”