Chocolate-Maker Iren Merdinyan
In November I had the privilege to spend a day with entrepreneur and chocolatier Iren Merdinyan who is running her raw chocolate-making business from her flat in west London. She explains how she is inspired to follow her love of chocolate and start her own business.
What inspires you to start Raw Bonbon?
I have always been an appreciator of good dessert especially chocolate! I am mainly self-taught but I was fortunate enough to be coached to make my first chocolate mousse and chocolate ice cream by a friend, a brilliant chef who is trained in the art of traditional French cuisine. At the same time I discovered that my love for chocolate could be transformed into a passion for making delicioussweet treats.With a keen interest into yoga and a healthy life, the nutritional qualityof the food I ate became very important 4 years ago. However I wasnot satisfied with the flavours of healthy sweets that were available inthe market. After experimenting with raw cacao and raw cacao butter,nuts, and flavours the first raw bonbon was born in 2012.Raw Bonbon started as a dream for healthy yet delicious chocolate sweets, which is to be enjoyed by everyone and not only the raw food aficionados.
Describe your chocolate-making process.
Chocolate is picky - it requires the right temperature and humidity in the room. Once the chocolate (raw cacao, raw cacao butter and coconut sugar /or maple syrup) is melted up to 108° Fahrenheit (118°is the accepted maximum degree of heating in raw food preparation) the chocolate is then cooled down to 88-91° Fahrenheit then it is molded so it forms beta crystals and creates a shiny look along with sharp, snap sound when breaking the chocolate. There is something so magical and welcoming when I stir dark chocolate, the smell is exquisite. I enjoy the meditative process of dipping the bonbons in melted dark chocolate.
Where do you source your ingredients?
I only use raw organic ingredients. High quality raw cacao is the key to the flavours I enjoy to create. As sweetener I prefer to use organic maple syrup or organic coconut sugar. I source my ingredients from independent suppliers who also support organic food and agriculture.
What is your favourite chocolate?
It has to be the matcha & chocolate slice I make and the passionfruit & coconut bonbon. Indulgent moments can be accompanied by salted caramel & dark chocolate with goose berries cake or Sakura bonbon - sour cherry & black pepper chocolate bonbon.
Where do you get your inspirations from when developing new products?
The inspiration can come from transforming a favourite traditional dessert into a raw patisserie, flavours from childhood and sometimes from other people's requests. More often than not the sweets materialised purely by trial and error. However I love those inspirational moments when flavour, shape or image appears in my mind.
What philosophy do you live by?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication ~Leonardo da Vinci I like the look and feel of things, which are done with awareness and care. The Japanese concept and aesthetics Wabi-sabi is very close to my heart: beauty is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. To use the words of Leonard Koren (author of "Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers") - Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered.