Inside the Moorabool Valley’s most picturesque boutique chocolate factory

Inside the Moorabool Valley’s most picturesque boutique chocolate factory

From a kitchen bench to an idyllic farmhouse in Batesford, Lynne Meek from Moorabool Valley Chocolate is making some of the finest artisan chocolates in the region.

From humble beginnings in the corner of a small home kitchen, chocolatier Lynne Meek of Moorabool Valley Chocolate has given the region a stunning destination to indulge in her fine, hand-crafted chocolates.

Located in the idyllic Batesford, the gleaming 90-year-old farmhouse boasts rustic touches, timber flooring, an abundance of natural light, a roaring wood fire, and sprawling views of the Moorabool Valley.

It’s here where the chocolates are carefully handmade, in a modern and dedicated kitchen, and while fairly small, the manual production is hefty with a lot of chocolate hand-crafted by Lynne and her small team of chocolatiers from Wednesday to Friday each week. As you walk by the glass-walled space, chances are you’ll be able to see these masters at work creating custom-made unique chocolate creation in view of shoppers while indulging in the sweetest of lunches.

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Originally just making chocolates to assist her daughter who was selling products in Geelong, Lynne quickly got a taste for the business and went on to explore the craft at Melbourne’s prestigious Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, where chocolatiers from all over the region would go.

Finding her passion, Lynne has built a solid reputation for her business over the last 16 years, crafting handmade chocolates through tempering using fresh ingredients and natural flavourings, locally sourced whenever possible.

“We don’t make our chocolate from the beans, as that is a complex process, requiring specialised machinery. Although there is a trend for smaller operators to do ‘bean to bar’, we don’t think it is viable for us at this time,” Lynne explains.

“Therefore, we buy the chocolate in buttons and blocks from distributors and importers. We then melt it and mould it, or use it to hand-dip fillings. Moulded chocolates are refrigerated briefly, but are not stored in the refrigerator, as they often attract moisture which can make them sticky.”

Boasting treats like truffles, pralines, fruit and nut clusters, chocolate bars and seasonal items, this haven of indulgence is a melting pot of glorious goodies. Inspired by customer requests, seasons, new ingredients and current trends, the team are always experimenting with unique flavours and flawless combinations to add to the specially crafted product range.
With an aesthetic almost too good to eat, you’ll find solid chocolate bars (from almond, ruby chocolate and dark chocolate, to freeze-dried strawberries in white chocolate, classic milk and cookies and cream) gorgeous hand-painted, hand-decorated choccies splashed with a variety of colours and designs, and several seasonal novelties like sleeping cats, hand-decorated shoes and Easter usually sees a 1.2kg hand-painted bunny make an appearance on the shelves.

While the standard range is dazzling on its own, it’s the chocolateries’ knack for bespoke creations that are their biggest drawcard.

“The business was started with the premise that we would make whatever the customer wanted, and that is a high percentage of our work. We can make a huge range of novelty items with personalised messages or decorated to reflect the recipient’s interests.

“We are only limited by the availability of moulds. Our two artistically trained chocolatiers can duplicate designs provided by the customer, or we can use our printing system to print designs that are incorporated in a chocolate item.

“Much of the design work involves painting directly into the mould, which involves precision detail and blending of colours.”

From your best furry friend to a chocolate version of your house, these brilliant artists can design choccies to the specifications of their customers, providing the region with the most unique and delicious gifts you could ever imagine.

And while these handcrafted treats are some of the most beautiful and delicious choccies we’ve ever seen design-wise, the team can also customise their chocolates and flavours to suit even the fussiest tastebuds as well as to suit chocolate lovers with dietary requirements such as gluten, dairy or soy-free as well as sugar-free or vegan, all guaranteed to make your jaw hit the floor.

“We began with the regular milk, dark and white, but sourced ones with a higher cocoa content than was in use at the time. All of our chocolate is gluten-free, although some ranges which contain malt extract are not considered to be gluten-free. We don’t use those,” Lynne says.

“Most of our standard chocolate range contains dairy, even the dark chocolate. To overcome that, we use Belgian dark chocolate which does not contain dairy as an ingredient and can be marketed as dairy-free and vegan. Over the years, we have experimented with different flavours and different companies: cappuccino, caramel and strawberry flavoured chocolate, 80% cocoa chocolate, sugar-free milk and dark chocolate. Most chocolate uses soy lecithin as an emulsifier, but we have found some that are soy-free.

“We also sell a caramelized white chocolate, which is made by cooking white chocolate at a low temperature for several hours.”

With everything available in-store, perhaps the biggest treat of all is the chance to watch the chocolatiers at work while you relax, sipping on their luxurious hand-ground hot chocolate and nibbling a decadent slice of cake (or light lunch) made from the best-quality ingredients within their magnificent tearoom.

So, if there’s a special someone in your life who needs to be treated right, and by treated right we mean given the gift of the world’s most beautiful chocolate to find comfort in for the winter, look no further than Moorabool Valley Chocolate.

Moorabool Valley Chocolate is located at 320 Ballarat Rd, Batesford. Visit the website for more information.

You can also find Moorabool Valley Chocolates at The Village Store on Pakington Street, Newtown. The Locavorium, Ripple Effect Gifts, and Sahrflora also include their chocolates in their gift hampers.