From the beginning: the Pana Chocolate story

From the beginning: the Pana Chocolate story

By
Pana Barbounis
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792544
Photographer
Armelle Habib, Chris Middleton

Growing up in multicultural Melbourne, Pana Barbounis was fascinated by handmade things and artisanal crafts. He admired the focus and skill it took to make something from scratch, the patience it took to get it right, and the passion required to create something with love every time.

When a friend introduced him to raw handmade chocolate, he was hooked. He threw himself into research and experimentation, and discovered that chocolate could not only be healthy and all natural, it could be beautiful too.

After travelling to the UK and Belgium to work alongside traditional chocolatiers – the true masters – he returned to Melbourne inspired, with a vision to create a rich, luxurious chocolate that would set tastebuds dancing around the world.

For six months, he sequestered himself away in a commercial kitchen, trialling the recipes that would become the foundation for Pana Chocolate. He made raw chocolates in icecube and cake moulds, then hit the streets on his Vespa, taking the creations to trade shows, restaurants, family and friends – anyone who would try them.

He then started experimenting with pure essential oils, and developing unique new flavours. They weren’t always a success – one lavender bar was especially disastrous – but through trial and error, he tweaked the recipes to perfection.

In the early days, he made, packaged and delivered all the orders himself. Before long, he had recruited a small team of talented wrappers and chefs, whose inventive approach to making raw chocolate led to delicious new innovations. Together, their goal was always to balance the hero ingredient – aromatic raw cacao – with flavours and textures that created a harmonious chocolate experience.

Pana founded Pana Chocolate in July 2012, building the brand around the notion of chocolate as an experience. He wanted to create a chocolate that made people stop, if only for a moment, to enjoy the myriad sensations it creates: cacao melting on the tongue, surprising bursts of citrus or herb, the character of coconut and a natural sweetness. He wanted to create a sophisticated chocolate that is at once smooth and textured, sweet and spicy.

The ingredients used in Pana Chocolate bars – and in the recipes throughout this book – are raw, organic and free from gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugar. But they are chock full of flavour, goodness and love, and are as wholesome as they are delicious.

The chocolate itself, handcrafted in Pana Chocolate’s Richmond kitchen, comes straight from nature – think organic raw cacao, coldpressed coconut oil and 100% pure essential oils.

As well as ingredients, ethics also matter at Pana Chocolate. This is why their base chocolate is certified Fairtrade, and is completely organic, kosher, halal, and vegan and vegetarian approved.

Pana Chocolate bars and recipes reflect Pana Barbounis’s ethos: that food and love are what matter most in life.

Why raw?

Raw chocolate differs from commercial chocolate because it’s unprocessed, and never heated above 42°C. Traditionally cacao was roasted when making chocolate, but today advanced processes such as cold-pressing mean the delicate flavour, nutrients and enzymes that are destroyed by heating can be retained. As with most plant foods, which are more nutrient-dense and easier to digest in their raw state, raw chocolate is packed with goodness.

It’s high in magnesium, calcium, zinc and potassium, contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of processed dark chocolate, and is a natural mood, immunity and energy booster.

At Pana Chocolate, we keep it simple. Our chocolate contains only a handful of consciously sourced, natural ingredients They say less is more, but we say raw is more.

Why organic?

All of our ingredients are certified organic because we believe they’re better for you, and better for our planet. We’re proud that our products, as well as our actions, contribute to a better earth. As of 2016, Pana Chocolate has paid for the planting of more than 34,000 trees, and we continue to pursue initiatives that support the environment.

We’ve fostered close relationships with our suppliers around the world, and because our ingredients come from across the globe – from Bolivia to Spain – we work hard to ensure our packaging supports local businesses. We partner with sustainable paper producers, and we use earth-friendly packaging.

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