We've Moved!

posted Jan 19, 2012, 2:31 PM by Sophie Jewett

We're very excited to announce we have a proper home! In November 2011 we opened York Cocoa House on Blake Street in York. Please join us there to discover more about a whole range of chocolatey events and celebrations! 

Chocolate as it used to be

posted Sep 6, 2011, 3:07 AM by Sophie Jewett

We were fortunate to be invited to spend the day at Ryedale Folk Museum in the beautiful village of Hutton-Le-Hole at the end of August, they asked if we could share some of our chocolate history discoveries with their visitors, so we thought we would take the chance to test out some of the medicinal benefits of chocolate that were enjoyed when it first arrived on our shores. 

Rydale Folk Museum is a gorgeous museum in the North York Moors, a definite destination perfect for the whole day and great for a range of family members. The traditional houses and shops are something that always capture my imagination, but they were so fun to explore with different foods being created - they had crumpet and muffin making on a traditional hearth and honey gathering from the museum's bees, visitors were in for a delectable treat that day. 

The day was a perfect occasion for us to make and share our research on chocolate as it was originally had - as a drink rather than as a bar. Chocolate was brought over by the Spanish and quickly spread through the European courts as a drink, it was one of these exotic new hot liquors - the others being Tea and Coffee from the far corners of the empires. The Cacaos would be roasted in a pan, then the shell would be discarded and they would be ground on a mortar stone under which a fire would be lit, the result would be a thick, mud like paste, this is what the chocolate industry now calls Cocoa Liquor or Cocoa Mass, it is at the centre of chocolate making. This paste would be extremely bitter and would be mixed with spices in order to make it more palatable, the favoured spice by the time it reached the UK being sugar. The paste would be mixed with spices and would have water added to it, Hans Sloane discovered that by adding milk to it made a desirable drink with medicinal benefits when drunk hot, whilst the Georgian courts would enjoy the mixture with warm wine to create the most luxurious and decadent chocolate drink. 

The problem with this chocolate was the fat content in the cocoa mass, it made it look unsightly and would not mix properly, the Aztecs got round this by pouring the chocolate from a great height to create a froth on top. Over time a number of things have been used to remove the fat from the chocolate, Rowntree used Icelandic Moss, others used starch or corn flour, whilst the Dutch came up with an ingenious press that would extract the fat, leaving the dry residue behind. This dry residue became known as cocoa, it was easier to transport and the chocolate industry took a different turn, whilst the fat that had been extracted was sent to London to be used in the cosmetics industry, where it is still used to make moisturisers and lipsticks. 

We decided we would re-create Sir Hans Sloane's medicinal chocolate drink, on his return from a trip ti Jamaica, he came back with a recipe to drink chocolate made with hot milk, the cocoa mass would be ground with sugar and then mixed into boiling milk. The result was the most gorgeous chocolate drink, that was sold by Cadbury brothers for many years. The result on the day was as amazing as any drinking chocolate I've ever tasted, and all the more so for how simple it was, and our visitors very much agreed. 

We used 1 ounce of cocoa mass, 1 ounce of sugar and 1 pint of milk. Heated the milk until it boiled we then added the sugar at the cocoa mass and stirred, whisking the mixture to ensure the cocoa butter and milk were fully mixed. The result was gorgeous. We could certainly see the fat on the top as it rose to the surface, but modern dipping sticks that are made with just chocolate have twice as much cocoa butter, so there were less problems than there might have been, but still, such great chocolatey flavour. 

If you would like to taste Sir Hans Sloane's original recipe join us at The Fountain on Parliament Street during York Festival of Food and Drink, 16th - 25th September where you can taste and purchase your own to make at home. 

A Festival full of Chocolatey Fun

posted Aug 24, 2011, 3:09 AM by Sophie Jewett

Once again we are very proud to be working with York Festival of Food and Drink to create some chocolatey indulgent events and activities for visitors and residents to take part in. York Festival of Food and Drink is firmly set in the calendar as the most spectacular of Food Festivals, lasting 10 days from Friday 16th September to Sunday 25th September the city will be full of smells of the most amazing foods. 

It's hard to believe that just 2 years ago we launched Little Pretty Things at York Food Festival in September 2009, so much chocolatey fun has happened since then, we just get so excited when the time comes around again, and delighted to be supporting the festival with our chocolate wares. This year we will be running a number of chocolate workshops, some have small entrance fees involved and some are completely free for you to come and join in the chocolate fun, and when the evenings are starting to get darker, what could be better than chocolate to give you that sense of comfort?

We'll also be opening up the Little Pretty Things Chocolate Parlour at the Festival this year, open from Friday 16th September - Sunday 25th September at the Parliament Street Fountain, we will be sharing our wares and profiling some of the most amazing chocolate creations from our favourite chocolatiers and chocolate makers. We'll have the finest hot chocolate, a little chocolate factory for you to make your own as well as new chocolate creations and products. We do hope you'll come and find us or there will be too much chocolate to have all by ourselves. 

Chocolate Events this Festival:
Join us at the following Chocolate Events

  • Slow Food Chocolate Tasting - Friday 16th  September 12.30pm
  • Parent & Child Chocolate Making - Saturday 17th September 2.30pm - 3.30pm
  • The Little Chocolate Factory - open to all Sunday 18th September 11.00am - 5.00pm
  • An Evening Full of Chocolate - Saturday 24th September 6.00pm - 9.30pm
  • Adult Chocolate Making Workshop - Sunday 25th September 2.30pm
All these events and so many more can be found on the York Food and Drink Festival website where you can book your tickets for these and lots of other delectable tastings, workshops and dinners. 


Using Chocolate to get York Reading

posted Aug 17, 2011, 5:27 AM by Sophie Jewett

Little Pretty Things are once again delighted to be involved with this year's Big City Read events, an initiative run by York Libraries to encourage more of the city to engage with the library and enjoy reading. 

York's Big City Read is an annual event where everyone comes together to read the same book and then share in events celebrating the chosen novel. This year the novel is Andrew Martin's 'The Lost Luggage Porter', an exciting detective drama starring Jim Stringer set in a dangerous Yorkshire underworld, set in Edwardian York. 

The Edwardian era in York was a time of innovation, with 2 big industries dominating the city, the Railways and the Confectionery Industry. Shipments of cocoa, sugar, orange and lemon peel would make their way into York via the river, while chocolate and confectionery products would be distributed around the world via the Railways. The era brought many into York to find work, with the women being employed in the Chocolate factories, reductions in duties meant that chocolate was becoming more affordable to the masses whilst innovations in steam and industry enabled products to be created more cheaply, the demand for the city's confections grew!

Join us to discover the glory of sweet making in the Edwardian era, many of the ingredients and production methods are still employed today, you can join us to learn how to make your own medicinal cure-alls and indulgent chocolate drops. Little Pretty Things have 2 workshops taking place for adults and children to join in the fun. Wednesday 24th August we will be at York Explore with our adult workshop, Saturday 3rd September we will be at York Explore taking part in their Edwardian fete, the full program of events is available here.    

Discover the Chocolate City with our hands-on workshops

posted Aug 5, 2011, 9:32 AM by Sophie Jewett   [ updated Aug 17, 2011, 8:45 AM ]

Little Pretty Things have created a new range of chocolate workshops in partnership with the Mansion House to take you back to an opulent era in York's history, to the days when the Railway first came to town and York was known as the Chocolate City. The Chocolate factories of Terry's and Rowntrees employed thousands in the city, roasting and grinding cocoa beans, making chocolate bars as well as dainty, delicate chocolates to be beautifully packaged into picturesque chocolate boxes and shipped world wide. 

We have 2 workshops for you to discover. Our Historical Chocolate Tastings will take your tastebuds through York's chocolate history, discovering the development of chocolate and the history of York's famous brands. We'll taste how chocolate has evolved through collaboration, innovation and social changes, all stemming from York, the home of chocolate history.

Our Discovering York's Chocolate History workshop invites participants to be hands-on with history as we explore chocolate recipes that make the family favourites from the chocolate boxes we have all grown up with. We'll tell you all about the development of the big confectionery companies that grew in the city and the delectable sweets that they created, discover just why all these companies found a home in York. Participants will have a chance to make their own vintage confections to take home and enjoy. 

Our Chocolate History workshops take place each month at The Mansion House, York, places can be reserved here or with Visit York on 01904 550099. All of our workshops are available for private bookings and bespoke workshops, please contact us to discus further.

Celebrating York - a city of chocolate

posted Jun 16, 2011, 1:50 PM by Sophie Jewett

We're delighted to be part of a new lecture series that celebrates the legacies that made our fair City - New Light On Old York is a program of talks organised by York Libraries and the University of York to chart the development of York into the vibrant city we see today. 

The lecture, A City of Chocolate, will take place on Monday 25th July at 6.00pm at Explore York Library Learning Centre. The lecture will shine a light on York’s sweet history and chocolate industry covering families such as, The Tukes, Cravens, Terrys and Rowntrees. After hearing about the past, we’ll get hands-on and make our own chocolate.

The big confectionery families of York have shaped the city as we know it today, as well as playing an enormous role in the development of the country's love for chocolate and sweets. We'll explore the journey they took, how they evolved and the products they created that we all know and love.  

Tickets are £10 per person, participants must enroll by calling 01904 552806 or visiting the University of York website

Little Pretty Things exclusive partnership with Chocadores

posted May 23, 2011, 12:43 PM by Sophie Jewett   [ updated May 23, 2011, 1:04 PM ]

We're delighted to announce a shared love for chocolate with our partnership with the fabulous Lynn and Sarah at Chocadores. Chocadores personally source the world's finest chocolates from chocolate makers and chocolatiers across the globe, that's why we're so proud to be working with them to exclusively distribute our Little Pretty Things and our seasonal Yorkshire Chocolate Collection truffles. 

Our seasonal Yorkshire Chocolate Collection, made with Yorkshire Cream, Butter and best of local flavours is available to order from Chocadores in boxes of 6, 12 or 18 and can be sent directly to you or your loved ones with your personal message. As our Yorkshire Collection changes seasonally we will send the best of our latest creations in our selections. 

By working with the lovely ladies at Chocadores we are able to offer our customers a great collaboration of our expertise. Chocadores source some of the finest chocolates that we use in our discovering chocolate tastings, by working together we can offer you a luxury journey into the world of chocolate and make sure we can continue to do what we do best - love chocolate!

The Science of Chocolate Making

posted May 23, 2011, 10:01 AM by Sophie Jewett

Little Pretty Things are delighted to be working with local organisation NYBEP - the North Yorkshire Business Education Partnership, to support local school children and teachers to understand the application of maths and science in the workplace and business. We will be joining NYBEP at The Yorkshire and Humber Big Bang taking place at York Minster on 14th July 2011. 

At Little Pretty Things we are big lovers of science and maths, it's helped us understand better the processes of chocolate making and it provides a superb learning tool to inspire children to grasp the basic principles and give it a go themselves. We will be running our workshops entitled "The Science of Chocolate Making" with participants and visitors to The Big Bang. Chocolate making is a fine art, mastered by confectioners around the world, but the mystery is all in the temperature and motion applied to generate the formation of crystals. We'll be sharing the secrets to these mysteries and show just how easy it is with some basic equipment you'll find around the house. Participants will then get a chance to practice crystal formation by creating something gorgeous that they can take home and enjoy!

As a NYBEP Ambassador we work with a range of schools across the Yorkshire region. Our Science of Chocolate Making workshops are available for school groups of all ages, together with a range of curriculum based workshops for all age groups and subjects. Contact to discus appropriate workshops for your group. 

The Dragon's Apprentice Chocolate Challenge

posted May 9, 2011, 8:33 AM by Sophie Jewett

We are excited to be working with a number of schools in the York area to create an Enterprise Challenge for Year 10 students - The Dragon's Apprentice Chocolate Challenge. We will be working with the students over the coming term to help them create a winning chocolate product, the teams of 4 will then give us their pitch in a Dragon's Den style presentation showing off their unique chocolate products. However we're not going to be doing an Alan Sugar and firing anyone too soon, our top 2 teams will have to thrash it out head to head making and selling their creations amongst their peers. 

We know the wealth of creativity that there is amongst our younger chocolatiers, many of our best ideas have come from our workshops and parties, so we can't wait to see what they offer us. We also think it's important to get these teams working together to create their own success, which is why we're leaving the final decision up to the pupils themselves, market forces will decide the winner in a true Apprentice style challenge. 

This is just one of the chocolate workshops that Little Pretty Things can offer to work with the curriculum on a whole range of subjects, including History, Geography, English, Maths, Science, Design, Cookery and Enterprise, if you would like a workshop created for you and your school please contact us to discus your needs. 

We're looking forward to celebrating the winning team, and hopefully having a new product that we can put to use.

Easter Egg Making with the BBC

posted Apr 12, 2011, 9:37 AM by Sophie Jewett   [ updated Apr 12, 2011, 10:01 AM ]

Little Pretty Things are excited to be making Easter Eggs tomorrow, Wednesday 13th April at the Mansion House in York with BBC Radio York, live on air at 7.45am and 8.45am

We'll be sharing our tips and secrets for making Easter Eggs. It's always a bit of an interesting one for us, as everyone wants to know how these gorgeous Eggs are created, however for us they bring back horrible nightmares. Chocolate Easter Eggs were the first chocolate making that got me very annoyed as a child, I was about 9 years old and did every experiment possible to try and figure out what was happening with the chocolate, how could I make it glossy, how did it come out of the mould, how do you make it hollow? At lot of chocolate making has happened since those early experimental days in the kitchen, however I still hear those anxious noises when I mention Easter Egg making to anyone, it really is simple, so simple that we hope BBC Radio York will all go home with some gorgeous chocolate creations and a little bit more knowledge about how Easter Eggs are made. 

We'll also be showing off our inventive method for making Easter Eggs without the need for a chocolate mould, they are even simpler! Have a look below how to make your own Easter Eggs or join us at The Mansion House on Sunday 17th April and we'll show you exactly what to do!

How to make Easter Eggs

The following instructions are ideal to be able to make Easter Eggs using a fantastic set of chocolate moulds available at Lakeland.

Use 500g of tempered chocolate or chocolate flavoured cake covering
(There is no need to temper chocolate flavoured cake covering, so it might be easier to practice with, if you would like to learn how to temper chocolate visit our instruction sheet here)

  1. Polish the inside of your chocolate Easter Egg mould - the shinier the surface the glossier your chocolate egg will look, make sure it is completely dry.
  2. Fill the mould entirely with your chocolate
  3. Tap the mould gently on the work surface to bring any air bubbles up to the surface
  4. Pour out the chocolate from the mould, there should be a layer of chocolate covering the inside of the mould
  5. Scrape any excess chocolate from the edge of the mould and lay the mould down on top of a sheet of baking paper so a rim around your Easter Egg can form
  6. After 10 minutes turn the mould the other way up so it can dry fully. 
  7. Add another layer of chocolate by repeating the above stages, or chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  8. When your Easter Egg is ready to come out of the mould you will see that the chocolate has contracted and fully come away from the mould
  9. You can then fill your Eggs with chocolate truffles or seal 2 halves together with some melted chocolate.
Some lovely packaging is now readily available for you to be able to beautifully wrap your Easter Egg creations. Have a look at Lakeland, Morrisons or one of our favourites online at Cakes, Cookies and Crafts 

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