- Keziah Smith on her take on chocolate biscuit pudding
Authentically for Sri Lankans – the classic chocolate biscuit pudding (CBP) is a household favourite dessert. Keziah Smith – an amateur baker – got into making chocolate biscuit pudding during Covid-19; back when it was lockdown and everyone was doing all kinds of baking and whatnot. Eventually, with support from her friends, she launched her own brand “CBP by Kez” online as a part-time hobby and has now made quite the name for herself with her decadent CBPs.
In conversation with Brunch, she told us that before Covid-19, she did cook, but she was never known for being in the kitchen. “People who know me would never in their wildest dreams imagine me doing food as a business,” she said.
On the topic of why she decided to focus on CBP, she told us that a few years ago, she was craving CBP, and asked her mom to make some. “It was so good – not that overly buttery, strange biscuit pudding that you get regularly.” She picked up the recipe from her mom and began making it for family functions and friends, who encouraged her to start selling it as a part-time hobby.
“I took the plunge a while ago and began ‘CBP by Kez’ with one flavour – now we have expanded to about six flavours and will continue to add new ones,” she stated.
Their best-seller currently is Bailey’s CBP. “This flavour too, was a total experiment – I never had an idea of doing a Bailey’s CBP but I saw this bottle lying around one day and thought I’d add a little since some people do add brandy to the pudding.” The Bailey’s in question happened to be salted caramel flavoured and it tasted so good that she decided it would be her second flavour, and it was such a hit that she ran out of the salted caramel bottles and couldn’t acquire more due to the export issues and had to wait for the regular Bailey’s. Even so, her customers clamoured for this particular flavour, and to date, it is one of her bestsellers. Aside from this, she also offers flavours like milo, nutella, strawberry, honey cashew, and cherry brandy.
For anyone that wants the best of both worlds, she also offers an option of customisation where the customer can go half and half. “Sometimes customers want two different things, and they don’t want to get two as they’ve never tried it out before, so we introduced half-half where they can go with two flavours in one CBP.”
We asked Keziah if she was affected by any of the restrictions for shortages recently. “There was a time when some of the ingredients weren’t available and you had to really stock up.” She added that the price also shot up for certain key ingredients so she had to balance it out with her initial price for the CBP. “I didn’t want to disappoint my customers by increasing the price – it was a challenge but we worked it out,” she said.
On the journey to establishing her brand, the biggest challenge Keziah faced was pricing. “I had to think about how to price it at an affordable rate. I’m all about quality, but I also want to ensure quantity – if you go to a café and you see a really nice dessert, it looks delicious but it’s priced really high and it’s small and I don’t like that.” Despite her ingredients being expensive, she tries her best to balance out quality and quantity so whatever her customers see is what they get – essentially it looks as good as it tastes.
Aside from that, building up a brand and raising awareness on it was a slow and steady process. “The market is quite saturated, there are many bakers and they’re all doing a great job so highlighting why people should try ‘CBP by Kez’ was a challenge at first.” She also added that she doesn’t do any promotion nor has she done any additional marketing – all her customers came in through word of mouth, which for a business, is a great selling point.
In the future, Keziah affirmed that she will keep introducing more flavours. “There is so much you can do with chocolate biscuit pudding; you don’t have to limit it to one flavour – different people have different tastes.” She also shared that most foreigners don’t know what CBP is, so when they try it for the first time, they are mind-blown. “It’s biscuit, and it’s cream, and it’s wow!” So something she is looking at focusing on is the foreign market as it’s a signature Sri Lankan dessert, it will be a proud moment for us.