During a recent visit to Paarl in the Western Cape, we came across De Villiers Chocolate and the DV Café. We had not intended to visit a chocolate factory that day as we were in the famous Cape Winelands where some of the best quality wines in the world are made. We saw the sign and I thought that it would be an unusual experience for our two boys to see how chocolate is made.
The De Villiers Chocolate factory is housed in an old Cape Dutch house and visitors can watch the chocolate making through glass walls.
A chocolate tasting tour was on offer so we purchased tickets and headed into the small room to learn about the art of chocolate making and taste some of the famous DV chocolate. It was very interesting for me to learn about the DV chocolate making process which started in the family’s garage using machines made out of recycled home appliances. We were told about how the chocolate is made using the cocoa bean and how the area from which the cocoa beans are sourced influences the taste of the chocolate. DV sources its beans from six growing areas, namely, Venezuela Carenero, Uganda, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela Rio Caribe, Sao Tome and Madagascar, Sambirano Valley. It was such fun to taste the various pieces of chocolate made from cocoa beans from each of these areas and identify the different flavours.
DV Chocolate prides itself that all of its cocoa beans are traceable to farm level and are free from people exploitation. In addition, the company uses UTZ certified cocoa beans which means that they are produced using sustainable farming methods with a focus on teaching farmers better farming methods, improving their working conditions and taking better care of their children and the environment.
The tour guide explained to us how the chocolate is tempered, a process whereby the chocolate is taken through a temperature curve in order to align the chocolate’s crystals and make it smooth, silky and glossy. My son, Michael, was as interested as I was in the tempering process. He was fascinated to learn that the waxy, white coating that formed on his chocolates when he tried to make chocolate witches for Halloween, was actually cocoa butter that had separated out of the chocolate. I already knew how to temper chocolate. I had been using this process for my own chocolate making for a while but it was good to hear about it from an expert. I think the tour guide was surprised by how much I knew and was happy to provide additional information.
After our chocolate tasting tour, we went to the DV Café and the boys enjoyed home-made ice-cream while Terence and I had a really lovely cup of coffee.
Our visit to DV Chocolate factory was very inspiring for Michael and I. Our interest in chocolate and chocolate making has flourished and we have put our chocolate making skills to good use over the last twelve months.
We created the above Springbok soccer boys cake which used individual fingers of milk chocolate KitKat to create a circular stadium effect. We also baked and decorated a giant s’more comprising of our own vanilla biscuit base and top layer with marshmallows in the middle an melted [and tempered] chocolate on the top. We also decorated our s’more with our own handmade Halloween chocolates.
Last but not least, we recently built a new house for our book character, Sir Chocolate, make entirely of chocolate. This was a great triumph for us.
This is not the end of Michael and my chocolate creating journey and we are aiming to make a chocolate mansion in the foreseeable future.
About Robbie and Michael Cheadle
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate books series. There are currently three titles available. The fourth book, Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook, will be available in early October 2017. The Sir Chocolate books are for young children aged 3 to 9 years old and include a story, told in rhyming verse and illustrated with Robbie’s unique illustrations made of cake, chocolate and fondant, as well as five simple recipes that children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie Cheadle is also the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, a chapter book written through the eyes of eight year old Cautious Craig. This book includes some of Robbie’s fondant illustrations with instructions on how to make them. There are also cake recipes included in the book with instructions on how to make five fun party cakes for children.
Find Robbie and Michael Cheadle
You can contact Robbie and Michael Cheadle on any of the following social media platforms:
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town