October 01, 2014

Vanessa in Hong Kong

It is interesting because I always used to write a diary. I actually started as a child as soon as I could write. The difference is that I was writing for myself and in French!

My name is Vanessa. Most of my life I was either a student or an executive. Lately I changed careers and became an entrepreneur. Something happened in my life, something major. I got pregnant not with one baby but two. It was life changing. I was not one but three. The responsibility which goes with it is tremendous. A twin pregnancy is considered to be a risky pregnancy. Many things can go wrong and you have to limit yourself from many activities and even foods.Well, I had to give up on sugar. My grandmother was sick with Diabetes.  I understood very fast that if I did not want to end up on bed rest (this happens quite often with twins or multiples) or get gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, I had to be careful.

The only thing I did not plan was to be craving chocolate…big time! We tried to find the healthiest chocolates available on the market, ones that do not contain high fructose syrup or corn syrup or sugar or agave or industrially processed sweeteners or any GMOs or emulsifiers. There was a very limited choice.  The chocolates had no flavors, no aromas and they did not feel like the chocolates I used to have. I could not eat the relatively healthy chocolates and I could certainly not eat the normal unhealthy ones, no matter how good they looked.

Raw dark chocolate vegetable cake

On one day of particularly strong cravings, I decided to start researching the subject. I read encyclopedia entries about chocolates, many articles and watched tons of foreign videos from star chefs I love and admire like Patrick Roger, Jean Charles Rochoux, Pierre Marcolini, Amadei, Cacao Sampaka and Escriba, La Brigaderia, Genevieve Grandbois, Pierre herme, Bellanger, Arnaud Larher… I came to understand the process and the complexity of working with such a noble material as Cacoa liquor. But the liberties taken by the top chefs were not an option.

I wanted my chocolates to be healthy. They say necessity breeds invention and I had to find ways around sugar, dairy, and all the processed ingredients and emulsifiers. After more than three weeks I came up with my first recipe which was a center core of dark chocolate with crushed Almonds and Hazelnuts covered by more chocolate and whole nuts. I made quite a few so that I could keep them. At that time, I did not know the differences between raw and roasted cacao.

My first batch was done on July 5 2010. I wrote about this event in my diary. I was about one month pregnant I think. And that’s how it started. I made a huge batch in September for my best friend who was getting married. She is actually the reason why I got into this business; she took one of my chocolates despite my protests (I wanted them all for myself) and when she tasted it she said “You have to stop everything you’re doing and start a business selling these.”  And so I did.

I LOVE GREAT CHOCOLATE and I can’t live without it. I also love nuts and can’t live without them. But I also love to be fit and healthy. I wanted healthy gourmet chocolates, they were not available anywhere, so I create Hnina.  Now you know.  I hope I can share them with you.

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 Six years ago my life changed in a way that only happens when you’re expecting (twins)….

and I was craving chocolate….BAD!

All I wanted was my French Rocher Suchard and Nutella…but I knew better. Such treats are filled with sugar and other “stuff”. With the high risk of gestational Diabetes in pregnancies with multiples and my own family history of Diabetes I knew I had to watch it!

New to America and health conscious California, I was already becoming aware of the importance of organic ingredients, so I searched but couldn’t find any chocolate that was organic, raw, unprocessed, dairy free AND gourmet.

By gourmet I mean magnificent tastes and textures, magnifique quoi …. hey I’m French….vive la gastronomie. I even sent my poor husband scouring every store, but rejected each and every chocolate he brought home as either not pure and healthy… or just yucky!








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