Tucked away behind the picturesque church in Sudbourne, amongst the outbuildings of High House Fruit Farm, I found the home of B Chocolates. From her petite workshop with stunning views over Orford Ness, Anna McCreadie and her assistant Katie produce their award-winning honey chocolates. Probably best known for the Honey Sea Salt Caramels we stock at Lawson's, they also hand-make truffles and honeycomb thins.
B Chocolates started out in 2010. Anna has owned the business since July 2016. It is a significant departure from her previous life working in adult social care and the public sector.
She has quickly picked up the alchemy of caramel and tempering chocolate, and has expanded the business to supply over a dozen delicatessens like Lawson's in East Anglia and even the renowned La Fromagerie in London. Her enthusiasm for the task in hand is as pervasive as the smell of chocolate in her workshop!
After donning a hairnet and white coat, Anna invited me to come and watch her make the day's batch of honey caramel. Anna uses local ingredients wherever possible. The cream is from the local Suffolk dairy, Marybelle, and the Suffolk Sea Salt is harvested from the Rivers Orwell and Stour.
Anna sources honey from beekeepers along the Suffolk Coast, including hives on her family's High House Fruit Farm. Today she is using amber-coloured honey from Westleton. Tasting this alongside two other samples she has prepared for me highlights subtle differences of colour, consistency, and taste that come from the different hives and flow through to the chocolates. Particularly delicious was a heather honey from Thorington with tonnes of marzipan and almond.
Anna creates her caramel in a well-worn French caramel pan and when the mixture is complete, a golden ribbon of honey caramel unravels as it is poured into shallow trays, lined with baking parchment. Once set a wonderful hand roller with thirteen blades is used to slice the caramel slabs into little cubes of sweetness.
Overnight a delightfully rickety machine whirrs away tempering the chocolate used to enrobe each caramel. In rows of four, the caramel cubes move along a wire conveyor belt through a waterfall of shiny molten chocolate. Excess chocolate is removed by a gentle tapping of the belt before the coated caramels slide onto sheets of baking parchment for decoration and drying.
Each beautiful box of Honey Sea Salt Caramels contains 15 chocolates and is hand tied with a raffia ribbon. Perfect to receive as a gift and a truly delicious treat to eat, I can assure you that one will not be enough!