Child magazine celebrated World Chocolate Day, on 7 July, by chatting to Naheed Ahmed, founder and managing director of The Chocolate Bar. We asked him to share his favourite choc chip cookie recipe.
His artisan chocolate company, based in Kenya, manufactures a wide range of high-quality chocolate products.
Ahmed started his journey to chocolate maker after graduating from Capsicum Culinary Studio. He completed the culinary school’s International Professional Chef Management diploma, Professional Patisserie Programme, Advanced Professional Chef Management Programme and Professional Chocolate Arts & Confectionary Programme.
“As a child, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen hanging around my late grandmother, whom we called ‘Maa’, watching her work her magic,” says Ahmed. “She was a professional chef and served as an executive chef in various institutions, and in 5-star hotels in Nairobi.
“Her love and passion for food was immense, and she would spend many late hours whipping up something in preparation for the next day. She found peace and happiness in the kitchen. Like all grandmothers took pride in feeding her family. I believe she was my greatest inspiration, along with my everlasting love for good food.”
After completing high school, Ahmed decided that his future lay in a career in the culinary world and he enrolled at Capsicum’s Cape Town campus as a foreign student.
“My time at Capsicum was great. The facilities, the equipment and the quality of lecturers was second to none and they had an extensive list of courses suitable for a chef student like me to explore all areas of the culinary world.”
After graduating at the end of 2013, Ahmed returned home to Nairobi and the start of his entrepreneurial journey.
“I started a small chocolate company in 2014, where we made gourmet pralines, truffles and bonbons. We had a small chocolate shop at The Village Market Mall in Nairobi. The kitchen where I made the products was only 55 square metres and I had one employee.”
Raising the chocolate bar
Fast forward to 2021 and Ahmed now oversees a factory 10 times that size with nine additional workers. They manufacture chocolate from bean to bar. Products range from truffles to pralines, slabs to spreads and drinking chocolate to ice-cream.
“Our products can now be found in supermarkets around the country and in a few health shops in the UAE. We supply to hotel chains and coffee shops around Kenya,” he says.
Where does Ahmed see himself in five years’ time?
“With continuous investment towards improving our facilities, I hope to increase the annual manufacturing capability from the current five to six tonnes we produce annually to around 20 tonnes or more.”
What would Maa think of her little kitchen helper now?
“I think she would be most proud, and I’m sure she lays her guidance over me from the heavens above.”
Ahmed’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Combine butter, both sugars and cream in a mixing bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well at each addition, before adding vanilla extract
- In a separate mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and mix together.
- Mix the dry ingredients in thirds into the butter mixture to blend.
- Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Portion the cookie dough onto a lined sheet pan. Leave 3-5cm gaps between each cookie.
- Bake one sheet at a time at 175°C for 13-15 mins or until the cookies are golden brown.
If you are looking for more recipes, try one of these foolproof cake ideas