Local Chocolatiers Create Sweet Pieces of Art
Jan 31, 2018 02:09PM
By Clare Heekin Lynch
Sweet treats at A519 in Lawrenceville
Life is about being happy. And chocolate makes most people very happy. In addition to being delicious, it may even have positive side effects—according to a recent study in Appetite, memory and abstract thinking improved in those reporting more chocolate consumption.
Local chocolatier Amanda Wright believes in this theory. “It’s an item that almost everyone loves and has fond memories of,” she said.
The owner of A519 in Lawrenceville has been creating truffles and other sweet treats with unique flavor combinations for more than five years. “I’ve always been passionate about cooking, and I ended up in pastries, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, CA,” explained Chef Wright, who also studied neuroscience as an undergrad. “I found that my analytical thinking trained me to pay extreme attention to detail, and chocolate is a science.
“It’s a niche product–it’s not just something you can just throw together,” she added. “But while chocolate requires technique and precision, it’s also fun to work with!”
Wright is extremely proud of making upscale chocolates sourced from local, ethical companies, using their fruits, honey, or wine and spirits in the final product. And the results are simply delicious.
“When it all comes together, it paints a compelling picture as to why using high-quality products makes a difference,” said Wright, adding that people have become more aware of how chocolate is made, where it is grown and what goes into the processing.
While A519’s most popular, year-round flavors include salted caramel, dark chocolate caramel, peanut butter pretzel, s’mores and dark chocolate ganache, the entrepreneur also has fun shaking things up in the kitchen.
“Last Valentine’s Day, we featured a collection of cocktail-inspired truffles with flavors including gin and rosewater, jalapeno rum, pomegranate mimosa, and zinfandel dark chocolate,” Wright said.
Tricia Wendereusz of Wendereusz's Candy & More in Evans City is another local chocolatier who, along with husband Larry, creates edible works of art. “The chocolates are fun to look at and fun to talk about,” Wendereusz said. “And people are often surprised at how good they taste.”
The family-owned and operated store located on Main Street offers a wide variety of homemade chocolates, sweet treats, chocolate-covered bacon, and many other delicious options. “Larry’s parents made chocolate for more than 32 years prior to us opening our business six years ago,” Wendereusz said. “There is no machinery used in making our chocolates—everything is made by hand. Our lollipops are not just poured into molds; we also decorate the molds with colored chocolate, then fill them with milk chocolate. We also offer chocolate-covered strawberries, which is always a big hit for Valentine's Day.”
The Speckled Hen Chocolate Company is yet another sweet business offering unique chocolate creations for any occasion. The goal of owner Valerie Cannon is to make a high-quality, intensely flavorful chocolate that can be enjoyed piece by piece or a box at a time.
“Our business is based on three essential ideals: quality, uniqueness and customer service,” she said. “We think outside the (chocolate) box with everything we make. We take all of our hand-dipped creations to the next level as far as uniqueness in order to change the perception people have about chocolate.”
The chocolatier designs pieces specific to each customer’s needs and wants. “When customers come to me, they can expect personalized chocolate, like a company logo or a photo of their pet ‘printed’ on the piece,” said Cannon. “Chocolate should be an experience!”
One of Cannon’s creations is chocolate-covered wine bottles. “I mean, why not?” she said. “The two make the perfect pairing and should be enjoyed together. I like to keep chocolate fun!”
She is also experimenting with cacao and raw chocolate. “The health benefits of raw chocolate are amazing; by keeping it in its raw state, it offers nutrients and antioxidants that are otherwise removed in the processing process,” said Cannon. “This will also allow me to offer sugar-free treats.”
Whether you’re looking for unique wedding favors, edible baby shower centerpieces, specialty fundraising ideas, or you simply have the urge to satisfy your sweet tooth, you don’t have to travel too far to find small, local chocolate shops that flaunt a smorgasbord of delicious temptations.