A conversation with Marcela da Costa, the chocolatier behind Emporium Norwich.
3 Min Read
Anyone who's been to Brazil may already be familiar with Brigadeiros, the miniature spherical sweet treat is a traditional Brazilian dessert. Their origin can be traced to a confectioner from Rio de Janeiro called Heloisa Nabuco de Oliveira as a way to promote the then presidential candidacy, Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a long term advocate for social reform, back in in 1945. After decades of campaigning, women sold the Brigadeiro to generate campaign funds in support of Gomes. It was the first election in which they were able to vote.
Since that time their popularity has endured and more recently, they have evolved into a trend of different recipes and designs. Most are made with chocolate, fresh cream and condensed milk these bejewelled desserts are covered in chocolate sprinkles of various shapes and colours.
“Every family in Brazil has their own special recipe!”
Marcela da Costa
"Every family in Brazil has their own special recipe!” Explains chocolatier and founder of Emporium Norwich, Marcela da Costa. However, for many people in Norfolk, Marcela’s South American-inspired confectionary represents something of a delightful discovery and her homemade products, which besides Brigadeiros, includes cookies, chocolate bark and an ever-changing variety of seasonal products, have been flying off the proverbial shelves ever since she launched the business in 2019.
“It is a new concept of chocolate to many people.”
Marcela da Costa
Despite almost instant success, Marcela never intended to be running a homemade chocolate business.
“I was on maternity leave and realized that I needed to do something professionally that would allow me enough time to look after my daughter. It was then that I decided to do something that every Brazilian can do which is to make Brigadeiros.” Meticulously crafting each of her products from her own kitchen, Marcela then sells her creations online via her website, and at markets around East Anglia.
“I’ve tried to bring my family recipe to the people of the UK so they can get to know about Brazilian culture. Customers have absolutely fallen in love with our products,” says Marcela “because it is a new concept of chocolate to many people and something they’ve never seen before.”
“I have a dream to open a chocolate shop to offer our products to the community of Norfolk…”
Marcela da Costa
“The local community has been so nice and welcoming towards Emporium Norwich and has really embraced us. We’ve also received a lot of attention from the media too.” Indeed, besides appearing in local newspapers and magazines on multiple occasions, Marcela and her company have also featured in The Observer magazine and BBC’s ‘Escape to the Country’.
Her proudest achievement, however, came earlier this year, when Emporium Norwich became the first Brigadeiro producer in the country to receive the ‘Great Taste’ certification. “I’m extremely proud of that” beams Marcela, “especially because we are the first business in the UK to be awarded this certificate specifically for Brigadeiros.”
So, what are the next steps for Marcela and Emporium Norwich?
“I have a dream to open a chocolate shop to offer our products to the community of Norfolk, not only Brigadeiros, but regular chocolates too, as well as coffee.” Emporium Norwich is also increasing its wholesale customers and Marcela regularly creates gifts for corporate events and celebrations too.
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