Tom's Bonbons: Stortford entrepreneur Tom Rountree launches home-made treats that are choc full of creativity
Sound engineer and DJ Tom Rountree has found a way to sugar-coat the loss of work he has experienced during the coronavirus pandemic – by pivoting to pursue his passion as a chocolatier.
Tom’s Bonbons, which operates from his flat near the Hockerill junction in Bishop's Stortford, officially launches on Sunday (November 1), which is also when his website goes live.
He has been honing his skills by making sweet treats for friends and family over the last two years.
His marketing efforts have been helped by the photography skills of brother Matt Heath, who has also missed out on dozens of wedding gigs this summer.
“My career is on hold for the foreseeable while venues are shut. Next to music, chocolate is a big passion of mine," said Tom, 27, who lives with his fiancée Robyn and their "dog child", cocker spaniel Tilly.
"My main line is colourful hand-painted bonbons. They're essentially a chocolate shell with a flavoured filling.
"The filling could be coffee ganache, salted caramel, lemon cheesecake... the possibilities are endless. The outermost layer is a thin coat of coloured cocoa butter which has a mirror-like shine. You can see your reflection in them!”
Having started out by learning how to temper chocolate and making simple ganaches, Tom was soon experimenting with coloured cocoa butter and various moulds, eventually leading to the chocolates now on sale. Last Christmas he made selection boxes of nine flavours for friends and family which went down extremely well.
“The questions I got asked most often were ‘Where can I buy them?’ and ‘Why aren’t you selling them?!'" he said. “I think there’s a real demand for quality handmade produce and I'm happy to finally be able to share my creations with the world.”
The Belgian city of Bruges has provided plenty of inspiration for the former student of Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth.
“Since I was a child, I’ve been going there at Christmas time," said Tom. "Bruges is famous for its chocolate shops. The cobblestone streets are lined with them, each offering a thousand different flavours, shapes and colours.
"There’s something special about watching the chocolatiers tempering chocolate and shelling moulds right in front of you. And the aroma of cocoa as you walk into the shop is unforgettable.
“Everything about the experience is wonderful and I hope to encapsulate some of that magic in my bonbons.”
Tom's bonbon menu includes espresso (dark), lemon (white), orange (milk), mint (dark), Bailey's Irish Cream (milk), coconut (white), lime and rum (dark), salted caramel (milk) and raspberry cheesecake (milk). The three dark chocolates – espresso, mint and lime and rum – are all vegan.
* To order a box of six chocolates for £7.99 visit www.tomsbonbons.co.uk . Use the code INDIE to get free delivery in Bishop's Stortford.