Chocolate company Baron Hasselhoff’s is an ever-evolving venture. It was founded in 2012 in Golden Bay by Clayton McErlane, who originally crafted various kinds of sweets, before moving to Wellington in 2016 and focusing on specialty bean-to-bar chocolate from 2019.
Baron Hasselhoff’s has just opened a new shop and cafe on Berhampore's Adelaide Road, a few doors down from its previous site. Inside the slightly larger 12-seat space, you can cosy up and witness the chocolate being made in front of you, in the process discovering some new treats that push the boundaries of what chocolate can be.
Alongside the bonbons and bean-to-bar creations, there’s a range of single-origin drinks including hot chocolate that’s made from scratch on-site, pour-over coffee from neighbouring Rich Coffee Roasters, and sugar-free cacao tea.
In the cabinet there are freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, decadent s’mores (complete with house-made marshmallows), and flights of single-origin chocolate mousse, which feature three revolving dark chocolates made with rare, heirloom cacao beans.
“It’s amazing for us to have the space to grow, and to execute the vision we have,” says McErlane (whose official title is “chief chocolate disciple”). “Having people on the premises and using the space is really exciting. We love seeing how customers react to what we’re creating.”
Baron Hasselhoff’s chocolate is crafted from some of the highest-quality cacao beans in the world, and the resulting spectrum of flavour notes goes far beyond the traditional flavour that you find in mass-produced chocolate. This is the chocolate equivalent of fine wine – only without any pomp or pretentiousness.
Chocolate production is usually hidden behind closed doors, so it’s fascinating to watch the melangeurs (stone-grinders used in chocolate making) mechanically grinding cacao into smooth, flowing chocolate, with the aromas filling the air. “Because the place is so open, people can see the whole inner workings,” says McErlane. “It’s quite visceral – they can hear the machinery and smell the chocolate. There isn’t such a big separation between customers and the production.”
The craft chocolate movement is changing our relationship with chocolate, and Baron Hasselhoff’s new space is at the forefront of what’s happening in New Zealand. This isn’t just a place to find exceptional treats – it’s somewhere to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of chocolate, where you can truly connect with the ingredients and the process.