Chocolate Gold. Pics by Dougie Nicholson.
Since hanging up her lab coat to pursue one of her greatest passions Anji Gold hasn’t looked back. Jack McKeown meets the scientist turned chocolate maker
Anji Gold boils a pan of soy cream then stirs in some glazed ginger and pours it into a bowl of chocolate before slowly stirring the mixture together.
The most amazing smell spreads through her little shop on Dundee’s Albert Street. “This is the part that brings out the scientist in me,” she smiles. “I love watching it transform from something a bit unappealing looking into the rich, velvety finished product.”
Anji (55) turned opened Chocolate Gold (the name, of course, puns on her surname) towards the end of last year after becoming burned out doing a PhD at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie.
Originally from Lancashire and having lived much of her life in Stevenage she came to Scotland to gain a degree in molecular and cellular biology with plant science. She started her PhD but the long hours coupled with raising her children and the loss of her supervisor to maternity leave overwhelmed her and she abandoned her studies.
She tried a couple of other lines of work before deciding to pursue chocolate making. “My step-gran used to make chocolates and sweets at Christmas time to give out to friends and I thought I would give it a go,” she explains. “I tried making some truffles just using cheap bars of chocolate from Sainsbury’s and everyone said they were delicious.”
Anji enrolled in a course in Peebles run by Ruth Hinks, former winner of the World Chocolate Masters and one of the world’s top chocolatiers. “She’s a great teacher and also such a lovely lady,” Anji continues. “She really made me passionate about chocolate.”
Initially Anji made chocolates from home but orders soon outgrew what she could accomplish there and opened the shop on Albert Street.
She constantly experiments with new flavours and comes up with special tastes for events like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
“The first flavours I did were orange and pistachio and gin and lemoncello,” she says. “I probably make new flavours more often than I need to but I enjoy coming up with them.”
Unusually, all Anji’s chocolates are vegan. “I use soy cream and milk,” she explains. “I’ve refined the recipes so you can’t tell there’s no milk or cream in them. A lot of people have dairy allergens and there’s also a big movement away from dairy – one of our most successful stalls was at the Dundee Vegan Festival. I’ve also started making a range of sugar free chocolates using a new plant-based sweetener called zusto.”
Anji says different origin chocolates have tasting notes as varied as wine or coffee. “I have chocolate from Peru, Mexico, Haiti and Cuba. Each one has different flavours – some have a hint of fruit and the Cuban, as you might expect, goes well with rum.”
Speaking of alcohol, most chocolatiers use an essence but Anji prefers to use the real thing. “You have to be careful how much liquid you introduce to chocolate but I think real gin, rum or whisky tastes much better in them.”
Anji’s ultimate ambition is to expand her business. “Eventually I want to have a chocolate shop with a café in it,” she says. “That’s the goal for me.”