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Our Story

The story of Chez Emily

Ferdinand and Helena first met in July 1983, when Helena (a second generation Belgian born in Ireland to parents that had emigrated in 1964) was in Belgium visiting Grandparents and Family. After conversing for a year via letters, they started a long distance relationship in 1984 and Helena moving to Belgium in November 1985.

The idea or seed that developed into Chez Emily was first sown in 1992, took a number of years to develop into what was to happen in the summer of 1996.

Ferdinand and Helena moved to Ireland end June 1996 and established Chez Emily Handmade Chocolates on July first of that year. They incidentally named the business after their only daughter Emily.

The early years were a test of endurance, learning to understand how business was conducted in Ireland, further developing the family recipes that were paramount in the chocolate production, launching into retail, business to business and wholesale. Chez Emily also attended country fairs, Christmas events and weekly food markets, including one of the first forerunners, The Temple Bar Food Market. These food markets were filled with up and coming Artisan producers who had similar ideas to that of Ferdinand and Helena. A new breed of foodies, passionate about all things local, artisan and hand crafted.

Chez Emily’s ethos has changed very little in the past 24 years but their passion and dedication has only increased to strive to a sustainable cottage industry, bringing you a truly artisanal handmade product, still produced from the original family recipes with care and motivation.

Chez Emily has grown somewhat in size, has two retail outlets, a strong representation across Ireland, has achieved many awards and accolades and offers you an opportunity to peek inside, get to know us and our chocolates.

Vegan Friendly

We believe that all our dark chocolate inclusion slabs are vegan friendly. We only use 70.4% cocoa dark chocolate.

Due to the fact we have dairy products on the premises the small chance of cross contamination can occur. All measures are in place to avoid this as much as possible.

Gluten Free

In the continuation of traditional recipes, all our chocolates are gluten free (Wheat flour). When we use or add gluten to a recipe it will always be noted in the ingredients list under ALLERGENS for you to check.

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Product Journey

Growing & Harvesting

Cocoa beans come from the cacao tree. The cocoa belt is found exclusively around the equator, with most cocoa trees growing within 10° of the equator. Cacao trees need a humid climate with a lot of rain. They grow best in the partial shade of large rainforest trees. The cacao tree is an evergreen that grows to be 5-8 meters tall. The fruit, which is called a pod, grows directly from the trunk and can reach 10–30cm in length. The pods ripen into a variety of colours such as red, yellow and purple.

Each pod contains 20–60 cocoa beans, enclosed by a sweet pulp. Because cacao trees tolerate the shade of taller rainforest trees, the rainforest does not need to be destroyed to grow cocoa. Each tree produces only 50–60 pods a year, yielding 7-9 kg of beans. A single pod can contain 20–40 beans, and it takes around 400 beans to make only half a kilogram of chocolate!

And now, let us follow the production of a chocolate bar from the bean to our taste buds.

Harvest takes place twice a year from November to January and May to July. The fruit is hand-picked to protect the trees. Once harvested from the trees, the pods are opened and their seeds are removed.

First, the beans and pulp are laid in fermentation boxes. The process of fermentation produces heat, requiring the beans to be stirred. At the end of the five-day fermentation process, the beans become brown, bitterness subsides, and the flavour develops.

After fermentation, the beans still contain too much water to be turned into chocolate. The beans are spread out in the sunshine to dry. Most beans are sun-dried for up to 14 days. After drying, the beans are inspected and separated.

Bean to Bar Process

Roasting takes place at 99° C for 10–15 minutes. Roasting sterilises the beans, enhances flavour, and makes the next step much easier.

Winnowing is the process of taking the shells off of the beans. What is left over is the “nib,” the most desired part of the bean.
The nibs are then ground, either by machine or between two stones. A liquid mass called cocoa liquor is produced. With more grinding and the addition of sugar, chocolate is made!

Conching is the process of mixing the cocoa mass (not yet chocolate). It is continuously mixed at a certain temperature to develop flavour, remove moisture and break down large pieces. This can take hours to days, depending on the desired outcome. The finest chocolates are conched for five days.

The next step is tempering. The chocolate is slowly heated and cooled, allowing the cocoa mass to solidify and stabilise. Without tempering, the chocolate would separate and would not harden well.

Inside the Workshop

A chocolatier is a person or company who makes confectionery from chocolate. Chocolatiers are distinct from chocolate makers, who create chocolate from cacao beans and other ingredients.

Traditionally, chocolatiers, especially in Europe, trained through an apprenticeship with other chocolatiers. It is now equally common for chocolatiers to start out as pastry or confectionery chefs, or attend culinary training specifically for working with chocolate. Being a master chocolatier involves perfecting the art of working with chocolate to create desserts as well as skillfully crafted pieces of art with chocolate. Chocolatiers must understand the physical and chemical aspects of chocolate, to not only create chocolates and other confections but also to create sculptures and centrepieces. Perfecting the technical aspects of design and developing the art of flavour takes many years of practice.

The chocolate is ready for you

Now you can enjoy handmade chocolate hand
crafted by a Chocolatier. 

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Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions our deliveries can take up to 5 working days; our delivery partners are doing their best to deliver as soon as possible.