Julie and Carrie have been working together since 2013 to bring their dreams of honey-sweetened chocolate to life.
Their company, Pure7, is run out of a farm barn in Carlisle, Mass. that has been converted into a commercial kitchen. These two moms are determined to bring the healthiest, tastiest and highest quality chocolate to their consumers!
Keep reading to see what Carrie has to say about honey and starting Pure7!
How did you first get into the confectionery business?
We actually never considered getting into the confectionary business; we just loved chocolate as a real food, but did not like everything artificial that is added to it. We wanted a pure chocolate sweetened with an all-natural sweetener. Honey was our only choice!
Where did the idea for Pure7 Chocolate come from?
A few years ago, Julie put her family on a special diet for health reasons and honey was the only legal sweetener. The one food that she missed the most on this diet was chocolate, and there were very few honey-sweetened chocolates out there. Julie and I both love healthy gourmet food and have cooked for a number of years. Tasty and high quality food with pure, organic ingredients is hugely important to both of us. Chocolate was exciting because it was a huge challenge, and we love food challenges. Chocolate is so precise and temperamental. And removing refined sugar and replacing it with honey was even more of a challenge, but we will never forget the moment that we got it right.
What is the story behind the name “Pure7?”
Pure is a word that we both love and it really represents the way that we eat and the ingredients that we choose for all of our cooking. It is a perfect name to describe our chocolate because there are only pure ingredients that you can pronounce. Seven is a good luck number for us. Our original flagship recipe had 7 ingredients (we now have 6), we have 7 children between the two families and we had been friends for exactly 7 years when we started the business. These were all signs that we could not ignore so the name Pure7 was born!
When and why did you first start experimenting with honey in chocolate?
About three years ago, we started experimenting with honey in chocolate. We first started working on the stove in Julie’s farm kitchen in Carlisle. It was definitely trial and error…chocolate does not like any moisture at all and even though honey has extremely low moisture content, you have to get the ratios exactly right. We knew that we needed to have a chocolate with no refined sugars and honey was the choice. An added benefit is that the honey actually makes the taste of the dark chocolate less bitter.
How long did it take you to find the correct combination of chocolate and honey?
It took us a year of hand tempering on the stove in our farm kitchen and we probably threw away a few thousand bars in the process. When it comes to food, we are both perfectionists and would not compromise on the taste. We talked to many chocolatiers while trying to perfect our recipe and they told us that it either could not be done or honey might compromise the taste which it did but in a positive way. People love the subtle, nuanced sweetness that the honey adds and the texture is velvety and smooth, closer to a milk chocolate even though it is dairy-free.
Many people told you that combining chocolate and honey for a great tasting bar couldn’t be done. How did it feel proving the naysayers wrong?
We were told by many professional chocolatiers and people in the industry that it could not be done or that it could, but it would not really be chocolate. It felt amazing when we nailed the recipe down and were consistently able to make the bars that we wanted. We have a mentor in New York City who was skeptical, but changed his tune the moment he tasted the final product. He just smiled and said, “Well, you proved me wrong.” It was truly the best moment for us.
How has your business expanded in the past two years?
We have been told that we have the best problem when you have a new business; we never have enough product in stock! We are currently in Whole Foods in the North Atlantic region and we are slated to go national by the end of the year. We are in gourmet and specialty stores in New England, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many in-between. We are selling a lot of chocolate bars online and have great online stores such as Thrive, who we have partnered with.
We are trying to not grow too quickly because we want to stay true to our product. We are really trying to stay in our commercial kitchen, which is a converted barn on the Carlisle farm. We love it here so we are planning on staying as long as possible, until we physically outgrow the space.
Any exciting new Made with Honey productions you’re working on?
We have our hands full with chocolate right now but we are definitely open to other fun ideas like popcorn and granola. Our creative juices never stop but for now, we just want to get Pure7 into as many hands as possible. We love our chocolate and want to continue to share it with the world!
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