Artisan chocolatier short-listed for international award

A Shrewsbury-based artisan chocolatier has been shortlisted for an international award.

Artisan chocolatier Julia Viani with her chocolates that are shortlisted for the International Chocolate Awards
Artisan chocolatier Julia Viani with her chocolates that are shortlisted for the International Chocolate Awards

Julia Viani, of Toot Sweets: Shropshire Chocolates, won a bronze award in the British category of the International Chocolate Awards for her Jersey Black Butter caramel chocolates

They will now go forward to the World Final in Florence, Italy, competing against the best handmade chocolates from across the globe. The judging will take place between October 26 and November 2.

Julia’s distinctive chocolates are made with Jersey black butter, her own-recipe salted caramel and single origin dark chocolate.

Chocolates were judged in regions around the world. All gold, silver and bronze winners qualified for the final where all entries will be re-judged and compete equally. The winner in each chocolate category will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony and famous grand chocolate ball next month.

“It’s the most prestigious chocolate competition in the world with top entries from every continent, so it will be interesting to get the feedback,” said Julia.

“The judges will be looking at flavour, texture and appearance and how the chocolate has been tempered.”

Julia’s Jersey Black Butter caramels have a hint of festive spice, that’s reminiscent of mince pie, and have been popular with her customers for a number of years.

The spice comes from unique Jersey Black Butter, which is created on the La Mare Estate in Jersey, from a secret combination of cider, cider apples, liquorice, spices and treacle.

“I have been making them every Christmas since I started making chocolate in 2009. I found out about Jersey Black Butter. I was intrigued and began researching it,” said Julia.

“I have previously entered competitions with my salted caramel or lavender chocolates. But, over the last couple of years, customers have been really getting into the flavour of my Jersey Black Butter caramels and ordering more and more of them. So I thought I would enter a chocolate that I hadn’t entered before. I only make them in winter time because they suit the season so perfectly.”

Julia’s chocolates have won multiple awards over the years, and since 2016 she has been a competition judge herself for the British Academy of Chocolate.

She was a finalist in the International Chocolate Awards in 2013 with a chocolate bar made from a rare Peruvian cocoa bean, pistachio and smoked cocoa nibs and sea salt.

Julia sells her chocolates online and at various venues including Shrewsbury Market Hall, farmers markets, food fairs, tasting events and food exhibitions. She is also the founder of the Shrewsbury Chocolate Festival which takes place in November.