Windsor Chocolatier Takes Chocolate From Bean to Bar
Throughout the month of December, we have been highlighting Ontario chocolate artisans. We’ve introduced you to Warkworth’s Angela Roest, Sudbury’s Tammy Maki and Kingston’s Audrey Brown. Today, meet Michèle Bowman, a Windsor-based chocolatier that handcrafts chocolate from bean to bar.
Michèle Bowman: Sweetness Chocolate, Windsor
Ever since she discovered the uniqueness of single-origin cacao beans, Michèle Bowman knew small-batch chocolate was her calling. Michèle grew up baking and always loved to experiment with flavour combinations. She ran a successful from-scratch bakery for two years before dipping her toe into the chocolate world. Her Windsor-based business grew from pop-up to a small manufactory to now a bigger workshop from which she creates and ships her delightful confections. As she looks to 2022, Michèle is ready to delight her customers with the quality, flavour and craftsmanship of her sweet creations at Sweetness Chocolate.
It can take up to two months to take chocolate from bean to bar — a long process that requires hands-on work at every step. Michèle begins with cacao beans, sourced ethically from small or micro plantations around the world.
“I use only the highest quality cacao beans that have been sourced from truly unique farms that are pesticide and child labour free, and who pride themselves on growing, fermenting and drying beans with utmost care,” she say.
She then takes these beans and begins the process of turning them into chocolate. The beans are first roasted and, once cooled, they are passed through a machine that cracks and removes the shells from the nibs. The nibs are then ground, refined, conched, aged, tempered and finally molded.
While the process is time consuming, Michèle says it gives her control of the process and the ability to maintain the distinctive flavour of each source.
“Making chocolate on such a small scale has its challenges, but allows me the chance to take extreme care with every bean that passes through my hands and to have the flexibility to have fun with both flavours and inclusions, spices and whatever cool item I can source or create on site.”
Fans of bean-to-bar chocolate can order Michèle’s creations through her online shop for either delivery or pickup in her Windsor workshop. You will find flavours such as Créme Brûlée, Coffee Cardamom and a vegan Oat Milk Cookies & Cream.
For the holidays, Michèle created special flavours such as “Down the Chimney” (a Honduras Copan 68% dark chocolate, infused with peppermint oil and studded with candy cane pieces and bits of brownie brittle) and “Gingerbread House” (a Honduras Copan 70% dark chocolate infused with all the flavours of gingerbread, swirled with ginger-spiced white chocolate, filled with spicy gingersnap crumbs and studded with candied ginger).
“I get my chocolate ideas from everything around me, including the origin of the beans I source, to pastries and sweets that I’ve always loved to make, to ingredients that I find all around me,” Michèle says. “I am inspired by everything, and I always have a million ideas swirling around my head.”