The Making Of Our Super Squares
In case it wasn’t obvious, we’re pretty pleased about the recent launch of our Super Squares - it’s definitely the longest we’ve ever spent developing a single product so to see it on the shelves is such a ‘pinch me’ moment of ours. Having developed the original recipes and created the bars in our own kitchen for the past 3 years (if you’ve been with us for a while, you may have noticed similarities between the new and old), taking the leap over to a ‘snack bar’ rather than a refrigerated treat was something we did with great care, and a process we want to share with you.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
As we mentioned above, the new super squares are based on recipes that we’ve been making in pretty big quantities for over 2 years now, so we know them quite well. Through the constant innovation of these in our own kitchen, we also know what makes a good raw treat - and by good we mean full flavour and an enjoyable texture. The only challenge left was to transition this into large-scale production - to make sure the bars still taste delicious when they’re being made in their thousands compared to when we’re making trays of 20 by hand. It was also incredibly important to us that we didn’t add any preservatives or ingredients that we wouldn’t typically use, so recommended ingredients such as soy lecithin which help to create a soft texture were off the cards. Whilst we were initially told it was ‘impossible’, we trusted our instincts and moved forward with a 100% natural recipe incredibly similar to what we were producing in our own kitchen and that’s what we’re still using now - so to put it simply, there’s absolutely nothing different about the bars other than that we now produce thousands at a time rather than hundreds (and because of this we can lower the price).
DEVELOPING THE RECIPES
Every time we take on a new challenge, we learn so much more about product development. Our main goals for these bars were to make them ambient (so they don’t need to be stored in the fridge) and to extend the shelf life (2 weeks shelf life is a big NO for lots of stores so we had to aim for 6 months or more… quite a big jump when your whole brand values centre around being free from preservatives). So how did we do it? Luckily packaging does a lot of the work for you as it seals in all the freshness but a lot of it comes down to water content (water leads to mould) so it was about figuring out how to reduce the water content whilst also maintaining the soft, chewy texture we love. Just little things like soaking dates or nuts in water had to be changed, and we lowered the amount of coconut oil in all the bars too as this has a tendency to go rancid.
So without soft, soaked ingredients or coconut oil, we developed the creamy texture solely using cashew nuts, which offer a much creamier texture than other nuts when blended. Compare cashew butter to almond or peanut for example - cashew is much more mellow and soft. We then chose a ‘texture’ for each bar - the Acai Super Square is reliant on the sesame to add texture, the Maca Super Square uses buckwheat groats to add crunch throughout and the Reishi Super Square uses cacao nibs for the same purpose.
REFINING THE FLAVOURS
How many times have you bitten into a healthy snack bar promising you the likes of cookie dough, chocolate brownie and blueberry muffin only to be met by the taste of dates and not much else…? Of all our pet peeves, this is probably the greatest. So our no.1 when developing these bars was to create strong, rich, intense, recognisable flavours.If we say Hazelnut Praline, we want you to taste Hazelnut Praline.
"OUR NO.1 WHEN DEVELOPING THESE BARS WAS TO CREATE STRONG, RICH, INTENSE, RECOGNISABLE FLAVOURS"
And the secret (if you can call it that) is real, high quality ingredients (you will never find ‘natural flavouring’ in our bars) and replicating traditional cooking methods. For example, to get the rich caramel taste in the Coconut Caramel + Maca Super Square we have to caramelise the coconut sugar with the maca, lucuma and ashwagandha before then adding it to everything else - just as you would if you were making traditional caramel. If we simply throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together, we don’t get the same rich sweetness, and the bitterness of the superfoods overpowers everything else.
And the same stands across all the bars - the hazelnuts are roasted low and slow for enhance the aromatic taste, the raw cacao is of the highest quality, and likewise for the acai and acerola powders. The sesame seeds were once over-roasted and the Acai Berry + Sesame Super Square was completely ruined and bitter, so it really is a perfect balance, and the reason it took us 10 months to perfect.
The change allows us to buy the ingredients in much higher quantities and make the bars much quicker, so the money saved can be passed over to you, and we reach a much nicer price point of £1.95.
WHY THE CHANGE?
There was a lot of reasons that we chose to change how we make our dessert bars, but the main incentive was price. So long as we were creating them in our own kitchen, we would never be able to lower the price below £3 as the overheads (buying the ingredients in smaller quantities + the time it takes for someone to make each one by hand) are so much higher. The change allows us to buy the ingredients in much higher quantities and make the bars much quicker, so the money saved can be passed over to you, and we reach a much nicer price point of £1.95. Equally, as the wellness scene hits the mainstream more and more, prices are getting rapidly competitive, and this change allows us to still compete. It also means that we can continue to grow our reach outside of London - supermarkets, airlines, airports, offices… our biggest goal is to make healthy, high quality food accessible so this change really makes so much sense. The idea that one day we may be able to pick up a delicious dessert bar made with real, high quality ingredients everywhere from the local supermarket to onboard our flight to Italy is mind blowing, and we really hope that this is the first stage of many exciting things to come!