Catching up with Cocoa Bocoa
Artisan chocolatier Naeema Bax-Kanaan creates an array of mouthwatering, handmade chocolates. From her signature Cocoa Bocoa Truffles to bespoke orders, there is something for all chocolate lovers.
When did you first start working with chocolate and what made you decide to start Cocoa Bocoa?
I picked up my first book on chocolate by chance and started following some of those recipes. It wasn’t long before I was dreaming of owning my own little chocolate factory! By then, one of my friends had moved to Belgium and invited me over to visit her. I sampled the best chocolates they have and got a taste for luxury, quality chocolate. I realised chocolate is so much more a versatile ingredient than we’re used to. You can transform a bolognese with a small amount of 80% dark chocolate or impress your friends with the ultimate chocolate fondant at a dinner party.
But after graduating I began work in social housing. Later, when I became a mum, I took a career break and decided to go back to what I knew best – chocolate!
What’s the most unusual item you’ve made?
I specialise in bespoke creations and a client asked if it was possible to hide an engagement ring inside one of my chocolate bon bons in time for Valentine’s Day. I thought biting into a diamond might not be the best idea and suggested my hand painted milk chocolate egg instead. She did say ‘yes’ to the ring and the chocolate!
What’s the most unusual chocolate you’ve ever tasted?
Hmmm, I would have to say turmeric chocolate. I’ve always used turmeric when cooking and it has a lot of great health benefits, but I wasn’t so sure it would lend itself well to chocolate. Still not convinced!
Is there a combination of ingredients that sounds horrible but is surprisingly delicious?
Hmmm, my Mocha Mallows. Marshmallows are for kids, right? Well my marshmallows grew up and acquired a taste for a good cup of mocha. If you’re coffee mad then this is the ultimate coffee treat, made with freshly brewed espresso and chocolate.
Any new flavours in the works?
The Kulfi Truffle. It combines one of my favourite childhood Indian desserts with the luxury of Belgian chocolate. As I am also working on re-branding and marketing for Cocoa Bocoa, it is a taking a little longer to add the finishing touches to my newer products. But I promise it won’t be too long!
What is your favourite thing to make and what is your favourite flavour?
This is an easy one. I love making truffles! I have definitely had sleepless nights getting excited about truffle flavour combinations. A packet of salted caramel truffles, feet up on the sofa and a good film are the real winning combination.
Best and worst thing about the job?
The best thing about being a chocolatier is when people tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my chocolate.
The worst thing has to be the administrative side – who loves paperwork eh?
Any tips on storing chocolate?
Avoid storing in the fridge. Chocolate needs to be kept in a cool place and should always be eaten at room temperature so that when the chocolate hits your tongue, it melts easily and you can savour each element. Truffles are the exception and best kept in the fridge. But if you’ve stored your chocolate in the fridge or in a very warm place and you notice that your chocolate has bloomed – the white bubbles on the surface of the chocolate – gently melt and use them to make some gooey brownies.
What is the most common misconception about chocolate?
That it’s bad for you. Poor quality chocolate can be full of sugar, sweeteners, varied fats and oils. But high-quality chocolate can be good for us.
What advice would you give to an aspiring chocolatier?
Working with chocolate requires lots of patience, but it can be an exciting and creative experience. So, get creative!
Orders can be placed via telephone
Images: Cocoa Bocoa