Chocolate is a deeply emotional subject. It is rich with nostalgia for wonderful devious moments and fudgey, indulgent birthday celebrations past. Today, it may not be considered an official currency as it once was, but it certainly holds gravitas when it comes to matters of the heart.
Despite its reputation as the food of love, somewhere along the way the love was lost in chocolate production. Which is why we are proud to partner with Islands Chocolate. A family business that has reinvented the chocolate supply chain, by nurturing/caring about every part of it.
Our partners, Islands Chocolate
Our friends at Islands Chocolate have a unique way of producing their award-winning chocolate. In an industry where layers of intermediaries are the norm, Islands are unique in being both the farmers and the makers of their chocolate.
Pioneers of the seed-to-bar movement, they plant only the finest varieties in their family-run St Vincent cocoa farms. The result is a product that’s ethical and handcrafted chocolate that’s delectable.
From seed to bar
Champions of radical transparency, join us in delving into Islands’ unique chocolate-making process:
- Nurturing the plants. Islands Chocolate starts from seed. Seedlings are grown in reusable bags, grafted with carefully selected cocoa from the gene bank, then planted out under the natural shade of the rainforest canopies.
- Harvesting the pods. It can take five to seven years before a tree reaches maturity. Pods are then picked every two weeks and are cracked and processed immediately to ensure maximum flavour. The husks are returned to the land as fertiliser.
- From bean to Belgium. The raw beans are then fermented, washed and dried, before being bagged up and ready to transport to Islands’ chocolate experts in Belgium.
- The transformation begins. First, the beans are lightly roasted to bring out the aroma. The shells are removed from the nibs which are then ground to a ‘liquor’. This is then combined with sugar, cocoa butter and sometimes milk powder for ‘conching.’ This process agitates the mixture to further develop the flavour and create that unique, chocolatey texture.
- Chocolate takes shape. Finally, the chocolate is tempered to give it shine, snap and a smooth melt. The liquid chocolate is then poured into moulds or set as buttons before being cooled and packaged.
Chocolate at GAIL’s
With Islands chocolate, we bake love into every bite. Piping it into our plump Chocolate and Hazelnut Buns to reveal molten centres capable of melting any heart. Combining it with caramelised hazelnuts to create our luxurious spread, perfectly slathered thickly on hot toast.
Find Islands chocolate at the heart of a whole host of products at GAIL’s, including…
Chocolate and Hazelnut Bun
A Great Taste Award winner, our Chocolate and Hazelnut Bun is unreasonably delicious. We craft them by baking our olive oil buns in a traditional brioche à tête mould, topped with hazelnuts and a crispy cocoa nougatine, filled with Islands Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread.
Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread
Italian hazelnuts are roasted to perfection before being caramelised and combined with organic, Caribbean cocoa to create our award-winning Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread. A must-have for any proper pantry. We love it so much we created the Chocolate and Hazelnut Bun around it, literally.
Made with pure cocoa powder, bittersweet dark chocolate chunks and malt that perfectly compliment sourdough’s natural tang. We love our Chocolate Sourdough thickly sliced, gently toasted in the oven with generous layers of salted whey butter and a spoonful of orange marmalade.
Available only at selected times throughout the year, to see us through the colder months. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear when it next returns to our bakeries.
We obsess over a good hot chocolate. That’s why we work with a partner who is committed to their cocoa. Every cup of our Hot Chocolate is made with Islands’ single farm cocoa beans grown in rich volcanic soil and bronzed in the Caribbean sun. Made by melting your choice of 55% or 75% chocolate buttons and blending into creamy, frothy cow’s or alternative milk. From farm to froth, this is a proper hot chocolate.