Meet three women who have turned entrepreneurs by crafting wonders out of chocolate from their kitchens

These women spend a major part of their day dabbling their hands in chocolate, melting butter and moderating temperatures. As easy or exciting as it may sound, coaxing sugar dreams and chocolate fantasies out of a bunch of ingredients, every single day, is not a piece of cake. But despite the long hours, the need for patience and constant attention to detail, their love of pampering people with everything that is sweet and sinful, is what makes their day.

Meet Tiruchi’s choco-preneurs – women who have turned their love of creating wonders from chocolate into a profitable venture. For those who have raided the city’s confectioneries for ‘something new or something different’, creative and customized home-made chocolates and confections are the answer. Every creation is the effort of a single person from start to finish. Operating with their home kitchen as the base, which gives them enough time for family, these women manage to have their cake and eat it too!

Cake whiz: Shanu Khanna

Her brand: Macos Chocos

Tagline: The essence of chocolates

From the vat: Makes assorted chocolates, cheese cakes, fresh fruit cream cakes, theme cakes with chocolate crafting and brownies.

The icing on the cake: Vibrant chocolate bouquets with candy hearts on long stems. Designer cupcakes with chrysanthemums and cartoon characters.

First nibble: Shanu has been taking orders for more than five years now. A Chennai girl who moved to Tiruchi 16 years back, she decided to tap into her passion for baking, after both her two daughters started out at school. Yet, Shanu is not keen on shifting base outside. “This way, I have time for myself, my kids and family, when I’m not baking.”

Remembers: “It has never happened before, but recently, twice in a row, I happened to be present in a party when my cake was cut. That gave me many anxious moments, standing there watching people eat my cake, and wondering what they were thinking!

Staying on top: She believes that staying updated is important to maintain professional standards and has attended workshops in Mumbai and Singapore to learn new techniques.” I didn’t know much when I started out. But with feedback and motivation after every order, I learnt better.”

Take-away tip: “Home-made cakes are almost double the price of the ones in a shop window, as they are freshly made-to-order, personalized and prepared with genuine products sourced from all over the globe. If you are honest with your customers about the quality of ingredients you use, and make it a policy to discard anything that is unsatisfactory, they will stick with you.”

Also makes: Sherbets and squashes

Dial: 99436 72288

Choco connoisseur: Emma Fernandez

Her brand: Indulge Gourmet Chocolates

Tagline: Guiltless indulgence

From the vat: Home-made chocolates -personalised for birthdays and anniversaries; truffles with strawberry, butterscotch, caramel, orange and cream cheese fillings, liquor chocolates and chocolate lollipops modelled on Disney characters.

The icing on the cake: Diabetic chocolates- more bitter and less sugary.

First nibble: An administrative staff in a fine arts college, Emma decided to take a break from work when her daughter came home for the first birth. When the daughter left home, a bored Emma decided to convert her love-affair with chocolates (only making them, for she is no chocoholic!) into a business venture, two years ago. She makes her own soft-centred fillings for truffles that need close to ten hours to be perfect, and can last for eight to 12 months.

Remembers: “We received an order for 300 boxes of chocolates at 9 p.m, which had to be delivered in less than 24 hours. With power-cuts being frequent then, my husband and I were anxious and sat up working through the night. We delivered three hours early!

Staying on top: “I wanted to give my personal knowledge of chocolate- making,a professional touch and took on-the-job training at Wiltons, California. I buy chocolates wherever I go be it Ooty or abroad. I compare them with mine to see what is lacking and what I could do better. Her grandson is her biggest fan and her husband, her best critic.

Take-away tip: Home-made chocolates are no longer just for festive occasions. People want to gift them as tokens for guests at parties, weddings, arangetrams and conferences. We’ve had orders for a tray of chocolates, to be exchanged along with other gifts between the families of the bride and groom, during the betrothal.

Also makes: Wines and Christmas cakes

Dial: 99944 58955

Dessert doyen: Ashika Kader

Brand name: Lovin’ Oven

Tagline: Mind over batter

From the vat: Single portion desserts, dessert cakes, fresh cream cakes with sinful gananche.

Icing on the cake: “Everything that comes with a cake must be edible,” is Ashika’s maxim and she makes sure that nothing is left over- not even the box the truffles come in – lids, spoons, cups and ribbons too are edible!

First nibble: Started making desserts at 20, inspired by her mom. When a son came along, Ashika came up with wildly creative birthday cakes that won over family and guests. Finally took the counsel of her admirers six months ago, to kick-start her own brand.

Remembers: A bride asked me to recreate her engagement sari on a seven kilo cake. In fact, the groom had a wager- he said such a cake was not going to be had in Tiruchi. I had just returned from Calcutta and sat through the night finishing it. The bride won and the groom paid the forfeit on the dias!

Stays on top: I never repeat my orders and that keeps the whole business challenging. Every cake is different from the last one I’ve done- among her creations are a bird cage and a Rapunzel cake complete with golden hair and tower. “I collect new cooking equipment and baking products, everytime I travel.”

Also makes: Starters and cookies.

Take-away tip: If you put your heart into making every cake, the client will know it and love it. The small touches matter.

Dial: 99949 43737