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Published November 23rd 2016
Is this the South East's best kept secret?
Minature chocloate pizza image courtesy of Chocolate Grove
The unmissable red and white candy stripes painted on the exterior of the Chocolate Grove factory are the first signs of Will Muddymans pride and joy. Mr Muddyman - nicknamed the 'Willy Wonka' of the South East is passionate about creating new and innovative products that he proudly sells from his newly opened Chocolate Grove factory outlet and history centre in Carrum Downs.
I recently went along to the factory out of curiosity, having never heard of it before. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one, but word is slowly spreading about Carrum Downs 'best kept secret'.
Inside is bright and spacious. Chocolates of every variety imaginable fill the shelves around the perimeter and a giant, colourful nutcracker soldier is prominently placed in the middle to separate the shop from the history centre.
I was lucky enough to be at the Chocolate Grove when Will was manning the front counter. Will, an eclectic man was very interesting and more than happy to talk about the history of the Chocolate Grove and his vision for the future. His passion lies within creating things that others wouldn't usually dare to try. He does this by endlessly experimenting with different flavour combinations until he is satisfied that it's just right - hence the nickname 'Willy Wonka'.
Amazingly there are up to 80 chocolate combinations and 150 products that can be bought here. Some of the most popular include the new salt and vinegar chocolate coated chips, raspberry riots, chocolate coated Sunny Ridge strawberries, chocolate coated Pringles, dairy free dark chocolate covered dates, milk chocolate covered honeycomb, dark chocolate chia nibs, orange surprise, lemon myrtle and the list goes on and on.
Will is constantly making up new combinations "sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but that's the beauty of being able to produce chocolate on a smaller scale".I later found out that the factory can produce over 2 tonnes of chocolate in a single shift! The good news for you is that if Will isn't entirely happy with the combinations they get sold on the clearance shelf for next to nothing and you get to try a one off chocolate combination.
People with allergies are also well catered for. Will says there are 15 certified gluten free chocolate varieties ( with the Chocolate Grove currently being the only Australian company with Coeliac Association accreditation) along with all of the dark chocolate being dairy free. The entire range has no vegetable fat or palm oil.
Also, just in time for Christmas are these wonderful chocolate Christmas trees with various nuts and decorations which I think would be perfect presents for school teachers and colleagues. There's large - red foiled santas that kids will love and mini pizzas for something fun in the Christmas stockings.
Chocolate Grove Christmas tree image courtesy of the Chocolate Grove
As for price, most chocolate bags/bars are reasonably priced between $5-$6 for 200 grams.
And the taste? Well, I bought about 10 bags/bars to share with family and friends and whilst all flavours weren't to everyone's taste, they all found a favourite and came to the unanimous decision that the quality of the chocolate was outstanding and would definitely go back for more.
The chocolate Grove is located just off the Peninsula Link at 50 Aster Ave Carrum Downs and is open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm Sat 12noon-4pm.
For more information on the Chocolate Grove, visit their webpage here.