Witness the magic and wonder of a real life chocolate factory when you visit the Butlers Chocolate Experience. Dressed like a chocolatier, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the factory and have plenty of chocolate tasting opportunities as you learn about the origin and history of chocolate through the ages with the ultimate chocolate discovery guided tour.
The history of chocolate
Chocolate has been around for years, thousands of years. It has changed a lot from when the Maya Civlisation used it and since the Aztecs discovered it around 4th century BC. Back then they would crush the bean into a powder and add water and spices to make a chocolate drink. It was then known as Xocolatl. The emperor, Montezuma, loved the Xocolatl drink so much it is said that he drank 13 goblets a day. The cocoa bean became such a sought-after item, it was even used as currency.
Columbus brought the cocoa bean to Europe between 1502 and 1504, but it was not highly recognized at the time. Hernan Cortez returned to Spain in 1528, with cocoa beans, a recipe, and the necessary equipment to make the drink. Only then did the King and Queen of Spain take notice of the drink. The chocolate drink was a secret in Spain for several decades, but when it became known, its popularity quickly spread across Europe. It was delicious and expensive, so only the privileged could afford to drink it. The cocoa bean reached the UK and Ireland by the 1650s.
Marion Butler moved to Ireland as a young woman from India. She began Chez Nous Chocolates in Dublin on Lad Lane in 1932. Her luxury chocolate creations were all hand made. In 1959 the company was bought by Mr. Seamus Sorensen from Cork, who opened its first retail store in the Grafton Arcade in 1960. By 1984, the company changed its name to Butlers Irish Chocolates to honor the memory of Marion Butler. The Sorensen family still owns and operates Butlers Chocolates.
The chocolate factory tour
Upon arrival at the factory, you receive your very own chocolatier outfit, a white coat and hair net. The first stop is the theater room where you watch a short video about the history of chocolate and receive your first sample of Butlers Chocolate. After the video presentation, you will walk through the history of Butlers Chocolate and the hall of all things chocolate. Here you receive a different sample of the chocolate produced in the factory. As the large double doors open at the end of the hall, you will see where all the chocolate magic happens. Chocolate is being made everywhere, along with the toffee and fudge the company produces as well. The catwalk is located above the chocolate making floor, so you get a bird’s-eye view of everything going on throughout the factory.
Entering the confectionary area, you receive your choice of a piece of freshly made toffee or fudge. Here you witness the toffee being laid onto a large table then folded and rolled into a large snake-like shape by a machine as the toffee cools. The fudge is poured into square trays where it sits to cool as easy to eat treats. Both the toffee and the fudge are made with three simple ingredients: sugar, condensed milk, and butter. The ingredients are poured into a large mixing pot and boiled to 120°C (248°F). After cooling they are sliced, packaged, weighed, and ready to be delivered to over 35 countries and to 50 airports around the world.
Warm chocolate is delivered throughout the factory by large pipes. This allows each area to immediately produce the type and style of chocolate required with a press of a button. The chocolate is melted at 40°C (104°F) and is kept stored at 30°C (86°F), thus allowing the chocolate to stay fresh for nine months.
Butlers chocolate bars are made in a mold. The top shell of the bar is made first. As this shell sits upside down, the filling of choice is then piped in. The final step is covering the center filling with a layer of chocolate to create the bottom of the bar.
See Butlers Gianduja, a type of praline, being made. They start with the chocolate center then add a layer of white chocolate to one side. Once that has cooled and hardened they do the same to the other side. When cooled, the square piece is cut into individual chocolate rectangles.
You may also have the opportunity to watch some of Butlers’ employees make their hand-made chocolates. A mold is initially used to make the truffles. This ensures all the truffles are of equal size and weight. After the hand-made chocolates come out of the cooling pond and go through the ‘chocolate waterfalls,’ they are then decorated by hand with sprinkles, chocolate shavings, lines, or piping. Packaged by hand, they are now ready for shipping.
Upon completing the tour of the factory floor, you will get the opportunity to test your chocolatier capabilities. You will be directed to the large kitchen area where you get to sample a chocolate drink and more chocolate. Here you will also decorate your own chocolate elephant with white chocolate and chocolate shavings.
Butlers Chocolate Factory
The only Butlers Chocolate Factory in the world is in Dublin, Ireland. Due to continued growth and expansion, the over 80,000 ft² (7,432 m²) factory is now located in IDA Business Park in Clonshaugh. The factory includes a theatre, a large kitchen for chocolate decorating, and café where you can purchase some of the delicious chocolate produced in the factory. Along with the regular chocolates that are produced in the factory, where one person can make over 6,000 hand-made Hazel Slices a day, they also produce seasonal chocolates. Seasonal chocolates begin production three months in advance to prepare for the sale season. The company can produce 24,000 Easter Egg chocolates per hour and made 2.4 million chocolate Mini Easter Eggs last year. The Ultimate Butlers Chocolate Experience cost 12.85 EUR (13.75 USD) per person or 47.50 EUR (50.80 USD) for a family of two adults and two children. To find out more about Butlers Chocolates or to book a tour today contact Butlers Chocolates.
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