Tassie in a chocolate

Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market producers a pinch of and Modo Mio Naked are showcasing a bit of Tassie fused with some chocolate indulgences this Easter. Both these producers manage to take the best Tasmania has to offer and translate it into chocolate and other delicacies that highlight ingredients as diverse as local whisky, quinoa, spelt, hazelnuts, wattleseed, pepperberries, raspberries, snow berries and charred chilli.

As you begin that internal debate about which delectable brownie, meringue or biscuit is a take home must, take a moment to reflect on the wayward track Susanne Dobrowski followed on her way to brownie stardom. With a grin Susanne describes herself as “one of those people with no definite plan, a sort of let’s see where this path takes me”.

“Who knew, that I would be doing this, making brownies on the other side of the planet, when my background is actually tourism management.” After leaving the heat and humidity of Brisbane behind in 2013, Susanne found herself in her kitchen on the North West Coast with a bar of chocolate, a brownie recipe and a willing tasting panel of customers from the Penguin market. As Susanne experimented with recipes and flavours the tasters would gladly appear and tell her if they were good, bad or “just plain ugly”. Brownies soon took over her life and today Modo Mio Naked is a regular at Tasmania farmers’ markets as well as having a number of wholesale customers. Susanne will be at Harvest Launceston this Saturday to help with that all important chocolate fix and as her brownies are naked – nothing artificial, only minimal sugar, couverture chocolate and the best of Tasmanian flavours – the fix is sort of guilt free!

Modo Mio Naked’s decadent chocolate brownies, meringues and cookies on display.

“Incorporating local ingredients as far as I can is really important to me – and it is challenging to say the least,” said Susanne. In particular trying to upscale her business has proved challenging with big producers refusing to sell her the 10kg blocks of butter she requires. Instead she has to source it through another local grocer.

Robyn Mayne describes how after years in the corporate world in Sydney she decided to return to her roots. “I wanted to do something that came from the heart and fed my soul. So a pinch of was born.

This Saturday, Robyn’s chocolate bars will morph into eggs infused with Tasmania exotics such as native strawberry pine, wattle seeds, raspberry, charred chilli, cherry and native pepperberry.

Robyn is a local, born and raised in Launceston she left in her early twenties. “I had wandering feet so I packed my bags, did a lot of travel and settled in to the corporate life in Sydney. After being incredibly happy in Sydney for many years, I decided – almost on a whim – to move back “home”. And I couldn’t be happier.”

Robyn from a pinch of and her wide range of finishing salts, spice blends, activated walnuts and chocolate bars.

Hand blended infused finishing salts was her first inspiration. Robyn let her imagination wander and by “putting a pinch of this and a pinch of that together to see what would happen” a range of blends of Tasman Sea Salt, featuring smoked walnut wood, cherry and pepperberry, beetroot and horseradish emerged.  From salts, Robyn incorporated Tasmanian wild foods and other local ingredients into her increasingly unique range that includes activated walnuts.

“I pride myself on using ingredients grown or produced in Tasmania. And if they can come from my part of Tasmania, even better.” Robyn explains that her merlot molasses activated walnuts uses walnuts that come from 5 minutes drive from her home, the merlot grapes from 10 minutes in another direction and the rosemary comes from 3 feet at her back door – her own herb garden. “All my products contain a pinch (or two) of pure Tasmanian sea.”

But just what are activated walnuts? Robyn explains that the walnuts have simply been soaked in water and salt. This starts off the germination or sprouting process. They are then dehydrated at a low temperature to bring back the crunch. Soaking increases the nutrient value of the nuts and breaks down phytic acid which can block the absorption of minerals. So activating nuts enhances digestibility and makes the most of the nutrients. Robyn will be at Harvest this Saturday for her fortnightly visit.