06 August 2014 by Christine Marot

eClare chocolaterie brings flavour and flair to Pietermaritzburg

Creative duo Clare O’Neill and Gail Randelhoff worked together in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Psychology before combining their creativity to launch a bespoke chocolaterie.

A sample of the unique chocolates produced at eClare. Photo courtesy of eClare

There’s a really sweet deal going down in Pietermaritzburg, courtesy of eClare chocolaterie.

Creative duo Clare O’Neill and Gail Randelhoff worked together in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Psychology before combining their creativity to launch a bespoke chocolaterie.

'The business evolved naturally,' says Clare, who has been making chocolates and sweets since she was very young.

'When I was aged about eight, my parents gave me a book called How to Make Sweets and Confectionery. It was only when my parents packed up our house to move that the book was unearthed and once again put to good use,' says Clare.

'Through self-study, a lot of practice and some formal training, I learned to make good quality chocolates and confectionery that was a lot more palatable than those made from the recipes in my children’s book.

'I was making chocolates as gifts for friends when someone registered a domain as a gift to me to market my chocolates, and our website was born.'

Clare says there was no specific decision to give up academia for chocolate-making. The business grew naturally, taking up more and more of her time.

Gail joined the business after winning Clare over with her beautifully decorated packaging, produced at short notice for Secretaries’ Day.

 

Launched in 2009, eClare operates from the Hayfields suburb, producing unique, custom-designed and created Belgian chocolates and confectionery to order.

What makes its chocolates stand out is the use of the best, preservative-free ingredients available, starting with imported Belcolade chocolate.

'We work with callets (pieces of chocolate) about the size of a R5 coin, tempering them (heating and cooling the mixture) to change the crystallisation of the chocolate, to make it smooth and crisp,' explains Clare.

The chocolate used is top-quality white, milk and (70% and 54%) dark Belgian chocolate. As if that’s not appealing enough, there’s a shopping list of yummy fillings to enhance the final product.

A few stand-outs include golden honeycomb, strawberry crisps, nougat, biscuit, marshmallow, pailette feuilletine (fine wafer), Irish coffee, French coffee, Jamaican coffee, mint, chilli, peanut butter, curry spice, orange and Chai tea.

To complement their one-of-a-kind chocolate selection, Gail’s role is to create customised packaging adapted to suit personal messaging, special occasions, events and functions, and corporate branding.

Although the product range is extensive, a large proportion of eClare’s customers buy the chocolates for home consumption; some prefer the health benefits of raw dark chocolate, which is widely believed to reduce inflammation.

The most unusual ingredient used to date is wasabi, producing a result Clare would describe as not to her taste, although her client was delighted. The most popular products in the range are honeycomb Papa bars and honeycomb nuggets.

The product range includes chocolate bars, moulded chocolates, pralines, truffles, figurines and moulded trinket boxes, but the girls say they love a challenge and are happy to take on special requests.

'We are always innovating; looking for interesting moulds and new flavours,' says Clare. It’s this attention to detail that sets eClare apart from commercial chocolate ventures.

Visit their Facebook page here. 

Category: Food & Wine

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