The cacao butter smashing saga continues I'm afraid and is the main reason why I'm been too busy to blog (well, actually my arms have been aching so much that I couldn't have typed even if I had the time!). When I last wrote, the husband and I had ventured out to deepest Essex to break up the cacao butter ourselves in the hope that the packing company, I had outsourced my ingredient packing to, could continue what we had started and we returned home to Sussex happy in the knowledge that everything was in hand.
Unfortunately, this was not to be and after a week of ignorant bliss, I received a heart-stopping email from Essex (at ruddy 5pm on the Friday evening!) saying "very sorry but the cacao butter smashing is too much work for us and we cannot continue packing your ingredients, please arrange to collect these as soon as possible." I cannot begin to describe the stress and panic I felt all weekend, we were now three weeks behind in delivering our first big order to Magasin du Nord in Denmark and two weeks behind on all our retail and distributor orders AND Christmas was only nine weeks away!!
It was clear that I would have to take matters into my own hands and break and pack up the cacao butter myself! I felt like action woman on Monday morning and spent the whole day on the phone and online. I found a spare unit near our amazing fulfilment company in Ringmer (which is much closer than ruddy Essex!) and managed to hire it out on a short term let, called the Lewes District Environmental Health department, explained the problem and they very efficiently organised for my food license to be transferred to the new premises immediately, found industrial scales, packing and sealing equipment, gloves, hair nets, food prep jackets and disinfectants online, had my stock delivered to the new unit and within five days I was ready to start packing (phew!).
It did seem a bit mad though to pack everything up myself and just as I was thinking how on earth I would manage this myself, I bumped into some of the mums from my daughter's old school at our local Co-op and after telling them about my cacao butter sorrows, they immediately offered to come and help. So the next Monday morning three mad mums, armed with a digital radio, hammer, chisel, hair nets and gloves were ready to rock and pack!
Things are now more or less under control. I've got a lovely little unit set up and regular help twice a week, so we are managing to pack up the orders much more regularly and efficiently. After getting some excellent technical advice from an ex-bricklayer friend, I have also perfected the art of cacao butter smashing and am able to break up the cacao blocks with a few hefty blows of my hammer and chisel (it now only takes me around 45 mins to break up 25kg of cacao butter, instead of the three hours it first took me!).
Between us mums we managed to get the ingredients for the big Magasin du Nord order packed up and they were finally delivered to the Danish department store last week, four weeks late but thankfully the order wasn't cancelled and I now have impressively muscular arms to boot! Onwards and upwards...