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Behind the scenes at Love Brownies in Ilkley

00:00 30 September 2015

The finished dish

The finished dish

Joan Russell Photography

There is no reason why gluten-free shouldn’t be delicious, says award-winning baker Chantal Teal

Packed and ready to goPacked and ready to go

It all started in the kitchen at the family home, as most new enterprises seem do these days. But it wasn’t long before this small, online business moved into the garage and is now a unique bakery in a converted outbuilding, creating award-winning handmade brownies sent out all over the country. The bakery, Love Brownies in Ilkley, West Yorkshire produces no ordinary brownies. Each is individually made, rich in chocolate from Venezuela, to recipes which include ingredients such as caramel fudge, vanilla gelato and whole morello cherries soaked in kirsch (not all in one brownie, you understand). Not only are these original treats hugely successful as indulgent bakes and luxury gifts, but so are the gluten-free versions.

‘A lot of people will sniff at the idea of gluten-free, thinking it just can’t be as good. But I am very passionate about gluten-free produce – there is simply no excuse for poor quality products when there are some wonderful gluten-free ingredients out there,’ says Chantal Teal, founder and head baker at Love Brownies. The proof of course is in the tasting – her gluten-free original brownie was given three Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards, one of the most respected blind-tasting food awards there are. Three stars is their highest award. The judges reported back after tasting the gluten-free product saying: ‘Baked so well, with a crunchy top and rich chocolate middle, real melt in the mouth, a good size for one and unusual, baked in a square.’

‘I’ve been aiming for this award for three years now – I will be smiling for months and months to come,’ adds Chantal. She also won a Gold Star for her double chocolate morello cherry brownie. The judges said: ‘These sound delicious. The chocolate is rich and the texture is dense.

‘We like that they have whole cherries in. We like the little warm alcohol coming through, too. They taste very good indeed.’ They are also a favourite with online customers and at district shows.

Chantal is a mother of two young boys who has a ‘cheffy’ background. She spent five years studying catering and management, then another 10 years or so in various chef jobs around Europe, Australia and the UK.

‘My family has catering roots,’ she says. ‘It’s in my blood. I think a gift of food is one of the few wonderful things you can always offer with pride, and accept with pleasure.’

Chantal set up Love Brownies with her husband Lee about five years ago. ‘We are a tight team,’ says Chantal. Lee designed the kitchen, the brand and the distinctive Love Brownies packaging. ‘People were making a lot of tray-bakes at the time but I wanted to make something different. My husband and I sat down together and talked until we decided on brownies, I love baking them and I love the business side of what we do. A lot of thought goes into it. All the brownies are handmade to order in individual tins. I use seasonal flavours and local eggs and butter whenever I can. The brownies are freshly baked to order and once they are cool, are packaged and sent to the customer to arrive within 24-48 hours.’

What next for Love Brownies as Chantal learns that Selfridges want to stock her brownie treats? ‘I don’t want to get much bigger as a business,’ says Chantal. ‘If we get too big we lose that individuality which I think makes us special. I’m not really a businesswoman – I just love having the opportunity to make people smile. That’s what matters.’

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