BIA 2011 Confectioner of the Year, Ruth Hinks, has been named the first female UK Chocolate Master, and will go on to compete in the finals of the international World Chocolate Masters in 2013.

Hinks, owner of CocoaBlack in Peebles, was crowned winner following the completion of the UK pre-selection round, which took place at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair in London.

The three days of intense competition, which ended yesterday (4 September), saw Hinks compete against Alistair Birt, head chocolatier for William Curley; Conor McAlonan, owner of Liberty Boy Confections; Richie Heppell, head chef at Royal Air Force Officers Mess at RAF Leuchars; and Simon Woods, patisserie lecturer from Westminster Kingsway College.

Judges praised Hinks’ innovative culinary talent, fusion of flavours and mastering of the underpinning architectural theme.

This year’s theme was ‘The Architecture of Taste’, with the competitors tasked with producing a showpiece, moulded praline, chocolate pastry and chocolate dessert, among other products. A new addition for this year was the reinvention in chocolate of a classic local recipe, which for the UK finals, was a chocolate log.

Following the competition, Hinks said: “It really hasn’t sunk in yet, I’ve been planning this since October last year, so it’s been constantly on my mind – I’m so relieved. I can’t thank my husband and the staff at CocoaBlack enough – at one point I was going to pull out of the competition, but they convinced me to stay in and I’m so glad they did.”

Hinks was awarded the Confectioner of the Year title at the Baking Industry Awards last year.