Don't try Abigail's chocolate recipes or chocolate unless you want to become addicted! Abigail & her husband Gerard's warm and welcoming vibe was the number 1 thing we fell in love with whilst visiting their place and getting the low down on all things raw cacao but chocolate was definitely a close second....! The cool Tisano chocolate tea was mind blowing and if you haven't tried some - its a MUST!
Where did your love of chocolate begin?
When I was little like most people I suppose. Then I got Über-healthy. My deep adoration for raw cacao chocolate began about 7 years ago, when I discovered that it was actually good for the body, mind, and soul!
When did you start experimenting making your own chocolate?
It's funny, for a while there all super-healthy minded people avoided chocolate altogether, using carob as a substitute. When I realised that I could make raw chocolate, without artificial ingredients, sugar and milk products I began to get excited! I'd make simple slabs of raw chocolate at home for my family often. But it wasn't until about 3 years ago when I was inspired to write 'Model Chocolate' http://abigailoneill.net/model-chocolate that I really began to experiment on a larger scale.
How did health & sustainable conscious choices play a part in the healthy chocolate path you have created?
Health has been first and foremost in mind, although when you're creating with the worlds most delicious superfood, it's not so hard to achieve. You just need to know the basics, which is all made simple in the book. As for sustainable choices, this kind of chocolate making is the most economical and sustainable way to go! I love knowing that I'm purchasing for health as well as indulgence. Even more awesome is that there's no need to feel guilty when using all fairtrade, organic ingredients for which the profits help to promote beautiful rainforests, as well as support communities which have a lot less than we do; and overall help to sustain our beautiful Mother Earth. Oh and have you seen 'The Chocolate Song'? It's a cute one which shows lots of smiling happy children who've been blessed by the fairtrade chocolate industry! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuuuyUdX3do
Tell us how your modelling life intersected with your chocolate career?
I've been a fashion model now for just over 8 years. Before that I spent most of my life in the kitchen and raising my three gorgeous children along with my hubby on the beautiful far North Coast of Australia. Not long after becoming a model I realised that I was spending quite a bit of time health-blogging, and that I also wanted to write my first cookbook. For many years friends and family and models have made me very aware of their need for an 'Abi' cookbook! I decided to start by creating a healthy and delicious raw chocolate recipe book (more of an un-cookbook actually) as everyone loves chocolate, and since I'm a model, I thought I'd make the book fashion themed. I've become the living proof that you really can eat it all the time, without it causing you to put on weight or suffer from problematic skin. You can imagine how much chocolate eating I've had to do making up all those recipes and then taste-testing them over and over!
You have self publlished your own beautiful book – its so incredible and we wish we could lick the pages! Tell us how this idea was born?
I'm such a visual person, and highly imaginative. I love fashion, 100% good food and also beautiful imagery so I just fully went with all of that to create Model Chocolate! Considering I didn't have any money to throw at it I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out and how much people are loving it. When I dreamed up the crazy concept of Model Chocolate, no one had published a 'food meets fashion' cookbook like it, and there were certainly no raw chocolate books available in Australia... at all! It's been such a great ride, and I've learned so so much.
Tell us about the book publishing process and how long it took? Did you creatively come up with all the different names/looks/ideas for each recipe?
That's quite a big one! I ended up finding someone who would 'print' rather than 'publish' my book. So I own all the stock and rights, it's certainly not an easy way to do it, but unless you have a big publisher who'll do all the promoting and distributing, it's really the only way. The names, concepts, ideas for each recipe was 100% all my own inventing and inspiration. I loved it! My favourite thing in the whole world really is to let loose in the kitchen, and just create magic. The food photography was a crazy journey! I used to require 3 hours to take a food image, now I can throw in props, food, great light and get a beautiful picture in about 10 minutes.
You must have the luckiest children in the world, what are their favourite chocolates that you make? (or are they sick of chocolate yet? Haha)
No never sick of it, can you believe it?! I made the 'Angelscake' - one of the very few cooked recipes in the book - for my sons birthday recently. They also adore The Dreamcake, Macadamia Melting Moments, Mint Fudgies, the Buttery (not actual butter) Blueberry Muffins, my classic Avela (hazelnut) Truffles, and Chok Dollop to name a few!
Where do you find inspiration for making different recipes?
For recipes in the book I wanted the inspiration to come 100% from my heart, so I didn't allow myself to look at anything, anywhere. It was amazing. I filled up a gigantic basket with so many interesting ingredients, and just let loose! It was like painting pictures every day for 3 months solid.
When I prepare food generally no matter what kind of cooking it is, I usually just like to make recipes up. Although if I'm really feeling mentally lethargic, I might look at some beautiful food magazine pictures, via Instagram (http://instagram.com/abigailoneill), or just go taste something new. One of my favourite things is to invent after a good taste-test!
Which is YOUR favourite?
Oh this question! Always my hardest interview question, would you believe? Ha I truly have so many - and am inventing more all the time! I find they are all so different and all perfect for different seasons, cravings or moods. I certainly can't go past my 'Hit the Spot Hot Cacao' in Winter. The other morning I made it based on Yerba Mate instead of water for an extra lift, I spiced it up as in the book with nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne and vanilla, my frothed 'Supergorgeous Almond Mylk' (also in the book) and it was absolutely perfect. And I must have the 'Love Me Bittersweet Jaffa Pie'. I top it with mountains of fresh blueberries and passionfruit, and ohhh soo good. It's actually also David Wolfe's favourite would you believe? Love that.
What are the must have items in every chocolate-makers pantry?
Cacao butter, coconut oil, raw agave or maple syrup, raw honey, superfoods like goji berries, maqui, incaberry or frozen organic berries, raw cacao powder, dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, vanilla powder, sea salt, maca root, tahini, herbs and spices, essential oils... I think I've listed about 50 items in the front of my book, so yes it can go on and on! :)
For the amazing recipe of the chocolates in these photos called the Nickers click HERE.