Brazil, like anywhere else in the world, loves chocolate. The Brazilian chocolate market is among the largest on Earth, with each Brazilian consuming an average of 2.5 kg per year. In São Paulo alone, Brazil’s most populous state, per capita consumption is 3.5 kg – equal to the whole of Italy. Large confectionary chains dominate the internal market, but there is still room for smaller, specialist chocolatiers, such as Renata Arassiro, whose São Paulo chocolate shop uses innovative design and ingredients to survive in a highly competitive sector.
Ms. Arassiro opened her chocolate shop in 2007, after working for 8 years in textile engineering. In her old profession, Renata began making chocolates and truffles for her friends and co-workers. Over time, this budding passion grew and she began selling her sweets in coffee houses. With the success gained from this small enterprise, Renata decided to devote herself to chocolate, where she has worked ever since.
Consumers flock to Chocolateria Renata Arassiro, the quaint little store in the south zone of São Paulo, because of the exquisite design and creativity put into each sweet. “Each chocolate is painted by hand, one by one,” explains Renata. “I use many different techniques of decoration and creation, so it’s really hard work and I’m involved every step of the way.”
Another of Renata’s innovation tactics is in her use of ingredients, incorporating exotic and lesser-explored tastes from farflung regions of Brazil and beyond. “I use daring flavors such as basil, lemon grass, curry…” Renata told the Brazilian media. “Also, thanks to my Japanese heritage, we have truffles and sweets made with matcha, ginger, and plum wine.”
Everything Renata knows about chocolate she learned herself, picking up various different chocolate-making techniques from books and other resources. Her skills led her to teach classes on confectionary and chocolate-making, until she decided to open her own shop. “I wanted something that was the perfect fit for me, it could only be something related to chocolate – my passion,” she explained.
Currently, Chocolateria Renata Arassiro offers over 30 different types of sweets, as well as cookies, tuilles and cakes. Renata also works with business-to-business sales, supplying tailor-made sweets for weddings and other special events, customized to the wishes of the client.
Above the store, Renata also gives regular classes on chocolate-making for beginners, as well as offering consulting for other entrepreneurs looking to open a business in the field of confectionary.
Chocolate: a Key Ingredient with a Rich History
Brazil, a country renowned for futebol (aka “soccer”) and the colorful Rio Carnival, is one of the world’s leading producers of cocoa and chocolates. Some scholars believe that Brazil is the “Birthplace of Chocolate”, according to studies which show cocoa plants first grew in the Amazon basin from a native plant called theo-broma cacao. This small evergreen tree is endemic to the tropical regions of the Americas. It thrives in the Amazon Rainforest and other tropical areas due to the excess of sun and rain. Its cocoa beans are used to produce cocoa mass, confectionery, ganache and of course, chocolate. What makes Brazilian cocoa unique is that its cultivation integrates into the native forests which generate a unique aura, texture, and flavor.
In addition to cocoa’s savory flavor, cocoa farms help rejuvenate the surrounding area. Compared to ranching, cocoa can provide income from a relatively small plot with no need for constant expansion. Cocoa plantations also can imitate natural forests, which helps restore native plant and wildlife species. There’s nothing more satisfying than a treat that’s helping the environment and the local community.