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Ayni - the chocolate range for allergy sufferers

PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 May 2016

Chocolate buttons

Chocolate buttons

Archant

Pru Wood can’t eat chocolate so she decided to create her own allergy free brand on her kitchen table, as Janet Reeder discovered

Pru WoodPru Wood

Imagine a world without chocolate. A world without that frisson of decadence that accompanies giving in to the temptations of just one more soft centre.

For those of us who can’t resist reaching for a bar of the dark stuff every now and then, it’s unthinkable. But there are thousands of allergy sufferers who have been unable to enjoy this simple pleasure.

Pru Wood is one such sufferer with ‘too many allergies to mention.’ And while the Barnoldswick mother of four is not at the stage where the reaction is so severe she can go into anaphylactic shock it is bad enough to cause her breathing problems.

‘My allergies seem to be increasing the older I get,’ said the 44-year-old. ‘I suffered asthma as a child but I didn’t actually develop food allergies until later on. My mother was allergic to Brazil nuts, so I guess it was always in the background.’

Pru Wood using a chocolate pouring funnel to fill giant chocolate mouldsPru Wood using a chocolate pouring funnel to fill giant chocolate moulds

With such allergy triggers as dairy and nuts often found in store bought chocolate, Pru was unable to indulge in her favourite sweet treat. When her husband tried without success to find her an Easter egg, she took matters into her own hands and developed chocolate range, Ayni. It’s specifically for those with multiple allergies and restricted diets.

‘There was dairy free chocolate on the market but it just wasn’t that nice,’ said Pru. ‘I wanted to produce something that was not only suitable for allergy sufferers but actually tasted good too.’

Ayni is created on Pru’s kitchen table at home, from just four ingredients. It has a base of organic raw cocoa butter and organic cocoa powder from Peru, coconut sugar and vanilla powder.

‘I was very interested in flavours as a lot of allergy products are a bit boring, ‘ she explained. ‘Amongst the more popular flavours are a raspberry and wild orange, a white chocolate and mint chocolate chip and a fig and orange. I’ve also experimented with liquorice, which sounds peculiar but works well.’

Pru uses organic food grade essential oils to flavour the chocolate as well as dried food and spices.

Pru started making chocolate as a hobby. After being vegetarian for more than 20 years health issues meant she had to return to eating meat. She decided to follow the Paleo diet, which harks back to the kind of food our cave-dwelling ancestors may have had.

‘I have got an entrepreneurial streak so I thought I could launch a Paleo range. But it wasn’t the thing I hoped it would be.

‘In 2014 I did an online course in raw chocolate and started making and instagramming it. People began to show a lot of interest.’

Now she sells online and, this year, plans to find more outlets for her products.

And while it is gratifying carving a new career for herself out of chocolate, it is her customers’ response that has been the icing on the cake.

‘One of the nicest things is that customers can have something delicious to eat,’ she said. ‘One little girl calls me the chocolate lady. Another customer said she hadn’t had chocolate for 30 years and was excited to eat it again. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.’

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