A Saint Andrews chocolate company has taken home a gold medal for its carrot cake white-chocolate bar at an international chocolate competition held in London, England.
McGuire Chocolate Company was one of 34 entries in the flavoured white-bean-to-bar category at the 2022 Academy of Chocolate Awards. The competition, launched in 2005, seeks to "identify, recognize and showcase the world's most talented chocolate producers and finest chocolates," according to the academy's website.
The award-winning carrot bar is made up of 43 per cent cocoa butter with cane sugar, whole milk powder, carrots, pecans and a blend of spices, said Mark McGuire, president of McGuire Chocolate Company. The idea for the bar came when he was looking for strawberries for a new white chocolate bar and "came across carrots." He said his wife then suggested doing a carrot-cake chocolate bar, and as carrot is his favourite type of cake, he was motivated to blend his special recipe.
After tasting the ground batter, he said, "I could tell it right away that it's going to be something special."
Applicants from all over the world send their chocolate samples to London to take part in the Academy of Chocolate Awards competition. The chocolate then gets judged "by a large, diverse set" of judges who taste the bars without the manufacturer's names attached to them and award medals along with feedback accordingly, said McGuire, who was notified about his gold-medal win in July.
McGuire said he had refrained from posting on social media about his win until new carrot bar packaging marking the gold medal kicked in, but had a sign posted at the store. After a social media post about the win was shared, McGuire said the shop has had great walk-ins for the product and is "working hard to keep up with demand."
"This is our first gold that we've ever won, but we have nine bronze medals and two silver medals," he said, "2019 was our first-ever medal."
Out of the total, one silver and two bronze accompanied the gold this year, he said.
The judges found McGuire's carrot cake white-chocolate bar an "interesting concept that's been executed well," according to an email from a spokesperson with the Academy of Chocolate Awards.
"This is one of those bars that's really hard to not finish all in one go! It amazingly does taste exactly like carrot cake, including the bit with the icing. Very well-balanced flavours and the sea salt really makes it irresistible," the email further stated.
McGuire Chocolate Company has been "building up" on the feedback it has received over the years at the competition, and it was targeting a gold after repeated bronze medals, McGuire said, adding that it aims to bring all its chocolates to "the gold standard" and has been constantly working on its products every year.
With its new carrot bar product bringing home the first gold, McGuire said it's an "important moment" for his company, but he described it as a "stepping stone" because the goal remains to bring every piece of chocolate the company produces up to the gold standard.
"We want to be considered among the best chocolate makers in the world."
According to McGuire, the carrot bar is popular among all age groups and "everybody has said, 'This actually tastes like a carrot cake.'" The 50-gram chocolate bar, which costs $11, can be "snapped into" four pieces, he added.
This year, six Canadian companies participated in the Academy of Chocolate Awards, bringing a total of 14 silver and 16 bronze medals home, according to the academy email. McGuire Chocolate Company was the only Canadian brand that took home a gold.
Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal