There is so much to catch up on here on this poor, neglected little blog. Lots has been happening at Creatively Paleo HQ – first up is the new improved edition of our paleo ice cream recipe ebook – it now comes with vegan friendly recipe bases, which is great news for anyone who wants delicious, creamy icecream but without the eggs – oh, and it’s A LOT easier to make too!
Secondly, and perhaps more excitingly, is the launch of Ayni Creatively Paleo Chocolate! There is so much to tell you about the hows and whys of this new venture, so go and grab a brew and we’ll provide the choccies…
I’ve loved making sweets and treats for as long as I can remember; they make such great Christmas presents for those difficult relatives, and they’re such fun to make too. Several years ago I entered a little competition that the lovely Hannah over at homebakedonline was running. I created some chocolate chilli hearts which, to my delight and surprise, won that month’s competition! That was a good few months before going paleo, so that recipe is as paleo as, well, the least paleo thing you can think of! But it just shows that making unusual chocolates has been a passion of mine for a long time.
Fast forward to Easter of this year… with an increasing collection of allergies and food intolerances, as well as the ‘through choice’ limitations of paleo, I’m very difficult to buy an easter egg for, but amazingly my husband found this allergy free egg from Kinnerton.
Now I think these are great, and it really made my easter, but… It was, to be brutal, really boring as far as easter eggs go, and of course it wasn’t paleo, but hey you can’t have everything, can you? Hmm… why not?!
Fast forward a few weeks and the lovely Shazzie tempted me to try out a raw chocolate course, which was the best money I’ve spent in a long time. Amy is the world’s finest raw chocolatier and the knowledge she imparted through this course was priceless. I was hooked, and inspired and just wanted to MAKE CHOCOLATE!
Unfortunately making raw chocolate isn’t the cheapest of hobbies, but I knew that really I wanted this to be more than a hobby. I wanted it to be something I could offer other people like me; people who enjoyed chocolate, but whose bodies really didn’t. I wanted to start a paleo chocolate company! I decided that I would set up a crowd funding campaign, and although several people said they would support it, for whatever reason, they didn’t. I was on the verge of giving up my dream, thinking that this was just too niche a project, but then everything changed.
My friend Su has always said that it only takes one person believing in you to make an immeasurable difference to your life. I hadn’t honestly believed that this was true (sorry Su!) but now I have experienced it, and yes, it is life changing. Enter Catherine, my one and only sponsor, a lady who not lonly wanted my product, but was prepared to put her money where her mouth was, and take a chance on a random stranger met through Instagram. Catherine wrote this amazingly supportive blog post about my campaign, which frankly moved me to tears. For someone to have that much belief in my ability to make something happen was new to me, and I had absolutely no intention of letting her down!
I experimented like a crazy person, spending a small fortune on ingredients and moulds, and clocking up countless sleepless nights as I worked to find a way to make this chocolate good enough to sell, without all the expensive equipment that I simply couldn’t afford. Well guess what? I did it! I created 90% cacao shells that I filled with vegan and paleo friendly fillings that were sweet enough (without using refined sugar) to offset the bitter darkness of the chocolate. I was over the moon.
Next came the hunt for a name, and a logo. I played around with a few ideas but they just didn’t feel right, so I sat down and thought about what I wanted to convey with my chocolate. I knew I wanted to be able to give to others the kind of support that Catherine had shown me, so I decided that the best way for me to do this would be to give at least 10% of any profits to Kiva loans, an organisation I had already been involved with in a small way since 2012. I also knew that I wanted to incorporate something of the country my raw materials come from – Peru – into the design of the logo. One night, with all of this in mind, I started googling, and very quickly I became excited about the concept of Ayni, which is a Peruvian word that, in brief, means ‘right relationship’ – it’s a system of mutual support used in Andean communities. I suppose the English equivalent would be ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’. Though I think that that phrase has rather less caring overtones to it these days than it might originally have meant to convey.
With a name, logo and product all ready, I launched Ayni, The Creatively Paleo Chocolate Shop on Monday, June 23rd, 2014. It’s not the best shop front in the world, yet, but I am so pleased that I got it off the ground, and what’s more, people have been buying things from day 1! On day 2 I was asked about a wholesale deal. On day 2!! How insanely amazing is that? So I know that there is a market for my product and I have SO many ideas of exciting new things to make I feel like my brain may implode any second. And, to make things even more exciting, I now have a stone grinder which means that I can make super smooth ‘milk’ style chocolate, which opens up a whole new world of raw chocolate possibilities! Over there is a box I made up for a guinea pig friend who gave me a kick up the backside a couple of weeks ago (thanks Giz xx) he got coffee, mint, orange, chocolate chilli and Mayan spice creams along with the most popular of our chocolates – the banoffee bite, all in the 70% cacao milk style shells. I think they look pretty fabulous, even if I do say it myself!
I absolutely LOVE being able to bring exciting chocolates to people who don’t want to be stuck with boring options thanks to their allergies and food intolerances. I can’t wait to see my little business go from strength to strength and bring smiles to faces, and I can’t wait to be able to give the first Creatively Paleo Kiva loan. Catherine said on instagram the other day that I would change the world, one chocolate at a time, and I am totally stealing that as a business tagline!
So there you have it, that’s what’s been going on in Pru’s Kitchen for the past few months – I’m really looking forward to serving you!
NB: All of our chocolates are made without the use of soy, gluten, dairy, nuts and refined sugar, and where ever possible we use the finest organic products.