2 Bethany Beach Moms Bring More Than Chocolate to Delaware

Photo by Olga Vorotnyuk

After whipping up plant-based confections for their families, two Bethany Beach mothers introduce their dessert creations to the masses.

Iulia Bersan and Kristina Mikhaylyuk (pictured left to right) began More Than Chocolate, their plant-based dessert business earlier this year./Photo by Olga Vorotnyuk

Wanting to satisfy their families’ sweet tooth while keeping dietary restrictions in mind, Kristina Mikhaylyuk and Iulia Bersan began coming up with recipes for delicious, plant-based confections.

Now, the mom duo is sharing these treats through a new desserts company called More Than Chocolate, founded earlier this year. There’s no brick and mortar yet, but plans for a café are in the mix.

“We are from Russia and Europe, [where] it’s popular to have bakery shops when you come in for desserts and a cup of tea or coffee,” Mikhaylyuk says.

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The pair independently turned to plant-based ingredients—eliminating refined sugar, dairy and gluten too—when they realized purging these things from their diets resulted in fewer symptoms of gestational diabetes and eczema.

When they later met through mutual friends and began chatting, they realized they shared the same passion for plant-based eating. Eventually, they decided to join forces, spinning their recipes into a profitable business.

“For us, it’s important to create something that brings us joy with open hearts and [that] we can share with other people,” Mikhaylyuk says.

LEFT: The idea for the dessert business came after Bersan and Mikhaylyuk saw improved health in their children after removing certain foods from their diets. RIGHT: More Than Chocolate’s desserts are free of refined sugar, dairy and gluten. The raw cheesecakes, made with dairy-free, creams and fresh fruits, are popular for social gatherings and celebrations./Photos by Olga Vorotnyuk

Their Instagram page (@morethanchoco) sparks an instant craving for the desserts it showcases—like matcha chocolate topped with almonds and coconut, or cherry “cheesecake” drizzled in chocolate.

To create familiar desserts without conventional ingredients like butter and sugar, Mikhaylyuk and Bersan took culinary classes to help hone their craft. Then, it was lots of experimenting.

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More Than Chocolate currently specializes in chocolate, candies and select cakes./Photo by Olga Vorotnyuk

Refined sugars are typically substituted with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey or monk fruit. Gluten-free flours replace traditional ones. Whole fruits, nuts, dark chocolate and organic cocoa also come into play.

Mikhaylyuk says one of the biggest challenges is getting over the misconception that plant-based desserts have very little flavor or taste “healthy.” After that first bite, she says, most people are hooked.

“It tastes very similar to regular dessert, in our opinion,” she says.

The most popular item of the moment is the double-strawberry raw cheesecake, made with a walnut and almond base, strawberry compote, layers of coconut and strawberry cream, and topped with fresh strawberries. The caramel cake comes in close second.

More Than Chocolate currently specializes in chocolate, candies and select cakes, but the proprietors plan to add more cakes and pies.

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Place an order by sending a message on Instagram or visit them at various farmers markets and pop-up events, including the Coops to Co-ops Farmers Market in nearby Princess Anne, Maryland. Some items can also be shipped.

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