‘Above all, think chocolate’. It’s a mantra which was brought to life by fictional baker Betty Crocker, but it’s one Anna Sterling certainly lives by.
Anna, a self-confessed chocoholic runs Cocoa Mester, an artisan chocolate shop in Kelham Island.
She dedicates every day to the sweet treat, making a unique range of products with flavours created to reflect the seasons.
Anna said: “Chocolate is my passion and I always had it in my mind when I started training in patisserie at Sheffield College that I would one day specialise in this and set up my own business.
“The process of taking cacao and manipulating it through heat to make something beautiful is wonderful.”
After training for a year, Cocoa Mester was launched.
Anna said: “I wanted to start up and a business that was reflective of a city of makers and craftspeople.
“This is where the idea for the name Cocoa Mester came from. It’s my nod to the little mesters, who are independent master crafts people and a big part of Sheffield’s heritage.”
Anna had previously been making her tasty treats in rented shop space and then selling them at markets.
But earlier this month, she opened the doors to a permanent premise. It is here that she spends days crafting her perfectly formed chocolates.
At this time of year, customers can go to the shop to buy her Winter Wonders box. And what a wonder it is.
Flavours include sticky toffee pudding, ginger and apple brandy; all perfect warming delights to share with loved ones during a cosy night in.
Soon, the flavours she produces will be filled with festive flair. Inspired by some of our favourite drinks of the Christmas season, the Festive Box will include flavours such as mulled wine, cherry brandy and even gin and tonic with a twist of lime.
Making each chocolate truly is a labour of love for Anna, who prides herself on not using preservatives to extend the shelf life of her products; instead preferring to ensure that customers get chocolates which are fresh.
She said: “ I make all of my products in Kelham Island. I use cacao, a type of cocoa bean from Colombia, including different single origin varieties for distinct and aromatic flavour. It does depend on the flavour of the bar as to how long it will take, but most bars are a two day process.
“For example, with the gingerbread crouton bar; the croutons need to be made a day in advance.”
Looking to the future, Anna wants to train her own cocoa mesters to make even more delicious treats - and she also hopes to expand the range of flavours on offer.
You can visit Anna in her chocolate workshop at Unit 1.8, Krynkl, Shalesmoor , S3 8UL. As well as being able to buy the chocolate, you can book a class to learn to make it yourself. Visit www.cocoamester.co.uk to see the full range of products and book a class. Also search ‘Cocoa Mester’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.