9am: Arrive at the studio, walking in to a lovely aroma of chocolate that reminds me I have one of the nicest jobs!
JANE Williams runs Davenport's Chocolates in North Shields. A trained chocolatier, she specialises in innovative and unusal flavours, such as Cinnamon and Toffee Apple and Raspberry and Rose.
8.30am: Check emails over a cup of tea. An order comes in from the Secret Garden florist in Jesmond. Nothing else is too urgent, so I head off for a day at the chocolate studio, just a short drive away.
9am: Arrive at the studio, walking in to a lovely aroma of chocolate that reminds me I have one of the nicest jobs! Overalls on, hair pinned back and hands washed... all set. I take a temperature and humidity test to check the conditions as chocolate is very sensitive to variations.
9.05am: It‘s 'enrobing' day. I have two main types of days - either making the centres/fillings of the chocolates, or coating them with chocolate, which is called 'enrobing'. Yesterday I made batches of raspberry and rose truffles and franzipan. I made two large trays of each, and my first job is to cut them into squares ready to enrobe. I spread each tray with a coating of dark chocolate. Two ladlefuls has to be spread out very thinly, as this becomes the base of the chocolate. When this has set, I tip the tray upside down to release the set filling - and the thin coat of chocolate is now at the bottom. A section of this is then slid onto the guitar-cutter (like a giant egg slicer) and the wires are pulled down to cut the filling into strips. I now have lots of squares. The franzipan is a lovely moist marzipan with small fragments of amaretti biscuit to add an extra crunch.
10.30am: Before I can use chocolate to en-robe the centres with, it needs to be 'tempered' so it will set with a beautiful glossy shine. The chocolate has to have the correct crystal structure to set properly, and there are many different ways to do this. To-day I am going to 'seed' the crystal structure. I switch the chocolate wheel on in the tank, so all the fluid chocolate is in motion. I then add 20% pre-tempered 'set' chocolate, which also cools the chocolate down to the correct working temperature. Years ago, chocolatiers sometimes tested the temperature of the chocolate by lifting a spoonful to touch the inside of their lip to check if it matched the internal body temperature - now unfortunately I have to use a thermometer!
11am: Enrobing begins. I send the chocolate centres through a curtain of rich, dark chocolate which flows continuously over the chocolate tank. They then have to be decorated before the chocolates set - timing is crucial. The raspberry and rose chocolates are adorned with a little pink sugar flower (I made a big batch of them last week). The Franzipan centres, once enrobed, are given a small sprinkling of raw cane sugar crystals, which add a lovely crunch. These are one of my favourites, so I usually test at least one of these - just before it is set completely so it's a little bit gooey!
1pm: A quick lunch break. Surrounded by chocolate has given me a craving for some-thing savoury, and I sit in the office with my sandwich, and multi-task.
1.30pm: The chocolates need packing. A mundane task, but quite therapeutic.
2.30pm: The Grand Hotel in Tynemouth has ordered some more gift boxes for their bridal suites, so I pack these up, and tie all the organza ribbons on. I've also had a new order in from the Country Barn farm shop in Widdrington, so I prepare this too.
4.30pm: I have a busy couple of weeks ahead as I have just had one of our biggest orders to date from a company in the South East who own 32 shops. So I take a thorough stock check to make sure I will have enough ingredients for the coming weeks. I also make a couple more sales calls to potential stockists I met at a trade show in London. Can't get too busy making chocolates to forget I need to sell them!
5.30pm: Cleaning and tidying, scrubbing down the work surfaces and washing up. Not to mention sweeping the floor. One day I may be able to afford a cleaner, but not yet.
6pm: Back home to cook dinner. You'll be surprised to hear that I love cooking! Blue cheese and pesto risotto today. I trade stories of the day with my husband - who does all the design and marketing for the business - as well as his own design work. Hence quite an design flair to our packaging. So many people have complimented us on the new designs which we launched last month - absolutely stunning.
8pm: Sometimes I get an evening off - or sometimes I am glued to my laptop. Like everyone I am trying to achieve a work-life balance but not always succeeding. But at least I love my work!