A Donegal-based chocolate maker has created a yummy chocolate bar with a sprinkling of goodness this Valentine’s Day.
The ‘Hearty Smarty’ is flying off the shelves as a sweet gift for loved ones this weekend. It’s all for a great cause too, as all profits go straight to Heart Children Ireland.
The delicious white Belgian chocolate bar was created by Oh So Cocoa founder Hannah Kelly in Letterkenny. The cover and fun ingredients are credited to five-year-old Carrigart schoolgirl Lily Rose Browne.
While it’s packed with smarties, marshmallows and sprinkles, the sweetest part of the bar is the charity support that it will generate. Hannah wanted to give back to Heart Children Ireland after seeing the incredible work their volunteers do for families after a Congenital Heart Disease diagnosis.
Hannah’s own daughter Sophie, now aged six, was born with a heart condition. At the time, the family didn’t know anything about congenital heart disease, and they found themselves spending a lot of time between Letterkenny and Crumlin Children’s Hospital during Sophie’s first years. There, they met many more families from Donegal on the same journey.
“One in every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect,” Hannah says.
“We were so lucky that we didn’t need to call upon the services of Heart Children Ireland, but we could see all the amazing work that they do. They are not funded at all by the government, but they do so much for parents.
“We didn’t know when we were expecting our girl there was a problem, but the charity can put parents in touch with psychology services and with other parents so they can prepare themselves. They support families with long-term stays and help them arrange travel for transplant journeys.”
Sophie is doing well now and attends regular check-ups in Crumlin.
Hannah has raised funds for Heart Children Ireland before, but this month she wanted to mark Heart Awareness Month through her business. She teamed up with a friend who teaches in Carrigart national school to invite schoolchildren to be Willy Wonka for a day and dream up their ideal chocolate bar and wrapping. Hannah was very impressed by the entries.
“I thought they were going to be good ideas, but not this good. Hearty Smarty was the winner because it was so fun and bright, you could see that it was going to be a seller, and that was important too,” Hannah said.
While many of Hannah’s Oh So Cocoa Valentine’s specials are being snapped up quickly, she is working hard to ensure the Hearty Smarty remains available for anyone who wants them for Valentine’s Day and beyond. The charity bar can be bought online (with national delivery available) at https://www.ohsococoa.ie/products/the-hearty-smarty-charity-bar, or locally in The Counter Deli, An Sourdough Beatha in Carrigart and Fusion in Killybegs.
The sweet success of the Hearty Smarty has been a highlight of Hannah’s first year of Oh So Cocoa. The Bristol native, who has lived in Donegal for the past 12 years, set up her business in 2021 as a lockdown project. Demand for her mouthwatering creations become so high that she was able to turn it into a business.
“I love my job, I love being creative and I love food. I come from a foodie family. I had always been in sales and marketing, but I think that Covid made everyone realise what we could do. I knew the kids would be in and out of school, so I re-evaluated how to be home for them. I poured my heart and soul into courses, recipes and ideas, and it went from there.”
Hannah will celebrate one year of Oh So Cocoa in March, and she’s already stirring up delicious ideas for Easter and planning expansion through a workspace extension. Check out Oh So Cocoa on Facebook to keep up to date with new launches: www.facebook.com/ItsOhSoCocoa