Master Chocolatier of the British company Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate has travelled the globe in his quest for culinary excellence. After graduating from the renowned Academy of Culinary Arts in New Jersey, he went on to receive specialised schooling in chocolate making at the Ewald Notter School in Switzerland and The Valrhona Chocolate School in France. From Europe, McCarrick headed East where he made a name for himself as an executive pastry chef across Asia. In 2001 he was lured to London when he was headhunted to oversee the entire production of chocolates, pastry and cakes at Harrods.
Since opening his own company, Bill McCarrick has picked up numerous awards for his creations, including a Gold Medal from the 2007 Academy of Chocolate Awards for his organic dark chocolate and three Gold Stars at the 2009 Great Taste Awards. He works closely with growers, preferring an unconventional cocoa bean preparation that is over-fermented and under-roasted. McCarrick is one of the few British chocolate manufacturers that conches his own chocolate. Fascinated by how differently chocolate is handled in various parts of the world, he combines influences picked up on his travels, from working with locally grown soy beans and lemon myrtle seed on Australia’s Sunshine Coast and experimenting with Agar-Agar in Hong Kong to exploring the exceptional teas and spices of Saudi Arabian and Iranian-influenced Dubai. Master Chocolatier and Owner of Sir Hans Sloane Chocolates is passionate about every aspect of the chocolate making process: from selecting cocoa plantations to his 72 hour conching process, hand tempering to designing bespoke hand crafted chocolate.His dedication has earned him a clutch of awards including Great Taste Awards three star Gold winner, AOC Gold medals (2007, 2008 and 2009), not to mention an international reputation for excellence. Adored by celebrities and Royals alike, McCarrick’s past creations have included everything from jewel-encrusted tiaras to birthday cakes for European Royalty.
Q. What are your most recent celebrity chocolate creations?
Confidentiality is very important to our customers. I can say that Sir Hans Sloane Chocolates has been the exclusive Chocolate Praline supplier to the Goring Hotel for many years. I even created a bespoke chocolate box for George Goring one Christmas! I was recently approached by The London Mayor’s office to create an Anniversary London Bike made entirely of chocolate. It all sounds very glamorous, but what really excites me is seeing the satisfaction and proud smile of a young apprentice mastering a chocolate technique. Inside, we are all the same.
Q. What do you love best about working with chocolate?
I love its natural origin. It all starts as a flower, then a fruit, and then through this careful craftsmanship, a delicious couverture. The taste of chocolate first thing in the morning is almost spiritual. Throughout the day my profession requires quality tasting. I make sure I add a dash of pleasure to my work requirement every time.
Q. What, in your opinion, makes for a great chocolate?
Put simply, it starts with a quality fruit (cocoa pod), properly handled at the plantation and all the way through to the chocolate maker and then onto the chocolatier before reaching the festivals in Bristol, Brighton, London and Oxford.
Q. Tell us one fact about chocolate that you find fascinating.
There are over twenty important steps in making quality couverture. Compare that with four in making coffee!
Q. What are your hopes for the future of chocolate in Britain?
The young apprentices at Sir Hans Sloane Chocolates are learning the dying craft of self-conching, which I am proud to support 100%. They are the future of chocolate in Britain.
Q. What’s your personal mantra?
“Make it better today than it was made yesterday.”
Q. Who inspires you?
My family and friends.
Q. What was your favorite chocolate as a child?
My Grandmother’s hot chocolate. I still have her secret recipe!
Q. What’s your favorite chocolate right now?
Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate coffee beans. I love coffee, so it’s a no brainer. It is such a natural high.
Q. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My passion. I have found my life’s work. Very rare today to have someone who says they are so excited about the blood, sweat and tears of work.
Q. Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party?
My wife Marianne (who I have dragged to twelve different countries), my first Chocolatier Günter Heiland, Hans Sloane (hopefully he could tell me more about his cocoa travels), Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Ricky Gervais and John Spayne. What a party that would be!
Q. What would you serve for dessert?
A buffet: Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce (using the recipe I learnt while working in Austria), Pear Williams Torte (from Switzerland) and British Summer Pudding.
Q. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
That the chocolate (couverture) making profession is rightfully respected and not confused with mass confectionary.
Equipment needed: 2 saucepans, heat resistant bowl, spatula, and balloon whisk
Method: Combine orange juice, lemon juice, zests and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Continue to boil rapidly until reduced by half, and then remove from the heat. Melt the cacao gently in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, or in the microwave. Add the melted cacao to the citrus syrup and stir to combine. Add the chilled, cubed butter gradually to the hot syrup, whisking to combine. Stir in the chopped nuts and the rum. Serve warm.
Serving suggestion: Serve with fresh fruit (could be used as a dipping sauce) or over a mousse. Accompany with a glass of Port or dessert wine.