Moonstock - hand-painted bon bons and chocolates made in Cheshire

A selection of BonBons

A selection of BonBons - Credit: Archant

Ricky Mooney and Josh Stock from Widnes have turned a passion for chocolate into a blossoming artisan business, writes Rebekka O’Grady

Josh Stock and Ricky Mooney

Josh Stock and Ricky Mooney - Credit: Archant

What started as a hobby has now resulted in Ricky Mooney and Josh Stock coming home from a day’s work and spending their evenings creating dozens of trays of delicious bon bons, hot chocolate spoons and other sweet treats.

‘When friends and family started to request the bars that’s when we began to explore our options into developing what was a hobby into a business,’ said Ricky, who alongside his partner Josh officially launched Moonstock Chocolates in June 2017. The pair still both work full time, filling their evenings and weekends with chocolate making.

‘We always knew we wanted to do something for ourselves. After travelling to Brussels and Bruges for some market research to look at different flavours and ideas, we couldn’t see anyone creating hand painted bon bons,’ continued Ricky, a project manager at a medical company. The couple, who live in Widnes, found the inspiration for their brand’s name while on a trip to The Hague. ‘We visited a coffee and chocolate shop called Hop and Stork, and that’s when we thought about amalgamating our surnames, which created Moonstock.’

The duo have enjoyed a stretch of successful trading, with the Christmas period seeing them produce over 2,000 chocolates. As each chocolate is hand painted and finished, there certainly is a level of patience required, and each tray can take up to three hours to complete.

A selection of BonBons

A selection of BonBons - Credit: Archant

‘Ricky makes them look good, and I make them taste good,’ said Josh, who when he’s not perfectly tempering Belgian chocolate works in financial services. ‘As well as the chocolate, I work on the flavours and creating the fillings. Ricky is really creative so I leave the painting and decorating to him. He also looks after the admin.’

‘When we first started, the painting was quite basic, but as we are both self-taught it just became more adventurous as we went on,’ said Ricky, who loves creating themed bon bons and chocolates for occasions such as Halloween and Christmas.

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‘I love creating limited edition chocolates. For Easter, we have been creating eggs of different sizes and the inside of the shell can be layered with honeycomb, biscuit pieces etc. We are working on an Eton mess version with freeze-dried strawberries and meringue and an egg filled with truffles. As we are an artisan brand, we didn’t want to be too gimmicky with moulds of bunnies, so we have painted rabbits onto some of the eggs.’

Along with their beautiful Easter eggs, there is a range of springtime hot chocolate spoons in lemon meringue pie, mini eggs and cookie crumb and, of course, there will be a seasonal range of their luxurious flavoured bon bons and boozy truffles.

‘There are nine core flavours of bon bons available throughout the year and we create seasonal ones every couple of months,’ said Josh, who handmakes all the ganache, honeycomb and candied fillings. Moonstock’s most popular three at the moment are salted caramel, lemon meringue and strawberry. ‘Praline is always a popular one too. We love playing around with different flavours and seeing what works. Rhubarb is pretty on-trend at the moment so we want to do something with that, as well as a dark chocolate and ginger.’

As the company nears its first anniversary, Ricky and Josh are looking forward to taking the chocolates to food festivals and markets around the region. They also have hopes of one day owning their own store.

‘Hopefully, next year we could open our own place with an amazing store front. I like the idea of having it in a location like Stockton Heath. I think it would fit in well in a place like that,’ said Ricky.

‘A chain of little shops would be the dream, or to have our brand somewhere like Selfridges.’

‘I just love that we have created our own business by ourselves and it’s nice to see it grow,’ added Josh. ‘We’re not sick of the sight of chocolate yet, but we’ve definitely put some weight on as we enjoy tasting them so much!’