When it comes to Christmas, going overboard with food is a right of passage. Especially chocolate. Our reporter and resident chocoholic, AMY FARNWORTH, spent a day with Margaret Stephenson, who runs independent business, Confetti, Cakes and Chocolates, to get an insight into how she makes her chocolates and find out what inspired her to set up her own company.

THERE’S no doubting that copious amounts of chocolate has been consumed across East Lancs this festive season.

But aside from the big brand confectioners and medium sized-businesses cashing in on consumers' sweet teeth over the Christmas period, Blackburn has its own chocolatier, a woman who’s sticking it to the man and crafting luxury truffles and other chocolate yumminess from the comfort of her own home.

In the pristine kitchen of her Mill Hill home, Margaret Stephenson is hard at work; she’s just tempered her first batch of chocolate for the morning and is about to show me the process she goes through to transform melted milk goodness into boxed luxury truffles in under 12 hours.

The procedure is one which requires patience, dedication and a steady hand, which is no problem for Margaret, who was an NHS radiographer for 28 years.

She said: “From a young age I was always interested in baking, and a few years ago I was given the opportunity to go to Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate to learn how to temper chocolate and that’s when I got hooked.

“I set up Confetti, Cakes and Chocolates in 2015 and after receiving great feedback went on to create my own brand of highly decorated chocolates.”

The tempering process is just the first stage of a lengthy procedure and in order to get that nice glossy shine, the chocolate needs to be melted at 45 degrees then cooled to 27 degrees then heated back up to a working temperature of 32 degrees.

Margaret said: “The temperatures need to be spot on to make sure you can hear the crack when you bite into it.”

Once at the working temperature the chocolate can be poured into moulds and placed in the fridge for a couple of hours until set.

Margaret continued: “While it’s setting I make my filling. This will then be poured into the mould and then put back in the fridge for another two hours.”

No stranger to a tipple or two (Margaret’s gin collection is better than your average gentrified bar), Margaret flavours the majority of her truffles with a booze-infused ganache which she makes using melted cocoa powder, cream and of course, a generous helping of alcohol.

For those who don’t drink, she also makes alcohol-free truffles, using chocolate caramel ganache or a plain chocolate filling - equally as delicious and extremely moreish.

Once the setting process is complete, it’s time for the decorating, and Margaret uses an unusual technique with a toothbrush in order to achieve the delicate swirls on her truffles.

Dipping the bristles into some coloured melted cocoa powder, Margaret will then flick the brush over the chocolates in a downward motion to create a unique spattered effect, ensuring each chocolate is different to the next.

Making stages complete, she then boxes her chocolates into luxurious packaging before taking them to craft markets and trade events across the region.

She said: “In a week, if I’m just making truffles I can make around 1,000 a day, and I’ll box these up and take them to craft fairs or complete orders which have come in to me via Facebook or through word of mouth. I’m a huge supporter of local businesses and would like to see more people promoting small enterprises like mine.”

Margaret said that making chocolates is a hobby that’s turned into a business, which she loves sharing with people.

She said: “As my business grows I’d like to get my products into more shops. I charge what you would expect for luxury hand-made chocolates because I believe you pay for quality.

“My motto is this – be happy and eat chocolate – people need a bit of happiness in their lives and if I can help them with that, my job is done.”

With Christmas orders flying in since as early as October, Margaret has been kept busy across the festive season and hopes 2019 will bring more of the same.

A box of deluxe truffles from Confetti Cakes and Chocolates starts from just £5.

A price list can be found on her Facebook page.