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  • March 13, 2018
  • Comments Off on Hop Hop to THE chocolate SHOP = Easter

Hop Hop to THE chocolate SHOP = Easter

It’s the middle of March.   I’m tired of all the Red & Green of Christmas and the Red & Pink of Valentines Day.  I love this time of year because I switch all of the ribbons on my boxes to bright rainbow colors.  Purple – Blue – Green – Orange – Yellow – (and just a little) Red = it feels like a garden in the retail.  At THE chocolate SHOP, we have had a month to recover from the crazy of Valentines Day.  BUT – when you are in the business of making and selling chocolate, there is no rest for the weary.   As soon as the heart moulds are cleaned and put away, I start planning for Easter.

A month ago, behind the scenes, I’ve already started pouring the chocolate egg shells that will eventually be filled with a pound of “YOUR CHOICE” of chocolate creams, caramels, toffee and nut clusters and wrapped in colorful foil.   I make a limited amount of these beautiful hollow eggs.   Most of them are pre-ordered and have become a tradition for our customers to give to their grown children.   So = at THE chocolate SHOP the answer to “What comes first, the bunny or the egg?”  It’s the Eggs.

   

Next: We pour the Large and Small Milk chocolate and Dark chocolate and White chocolate Easter bunnies.   I keep good records from year to year so that I know how many I need to make THIS year based on how many we sold last year.    We are half way there.  They are stacked at attention on trays, waiting to be packaged.   While visions of children dance in their chocolatey heads… that age old question always comes up: “What do you eat first – The Ears or the Tail?”  Inquiring bunnies want to know.

And then.  Last but not Least.  There are.  The 3 layer solid chocolate eggs!  Tucked inside the first layer of white chocolate is a circle of yellow chocolate.  A yoke.  No joke.  A yoke!   Then each egg gets coated with a layer of milk chocolate and then a layer of dark chocolate. Is that enough chocolate for you?  NOPE = we decorate it with more chocolate and then wrap it in foil.   Last year we sold out of these eggs a week before Easter.  This year, we are ready for you.  Hop Hop.

  

Happy Easter, my friends.

  • January 16, 2018
  • Comments Off on Mid January? No worries: I’m here to help.

Mid January? No worries: I’m here to help.

Christmas 2017 marked the end of our 14th Holiday Gift Giving Season as owners of THE chocolate SHOP. When I am in the middle of the fast and the furious – I think that I might literally drown in chocolate. Which, maybe sounds like a good way to go… but, not when I have corporate orders on the board and my retail door is opening and closing and opening and closing and opening and closing non stop. Thank you for THAT, dear friends. Thank you.

It’s the middle of January. I’m relieved that we made it through the busy months of October and November and December without any major catastrophes happening. We didn’t run out of anything major (read: we still have Sicilian Sea Salt Caramels). Every year at this time, I end up pinching myself that I survived. I’m three months older and sporting a few more grey hairs, but I’m still all in one piece. AND – I smell deliciously of chocolate.

Three weeks have passed since Christmas and the crazy chocolate haze has lifted and I’m feeling chocolatey optimistic about getting through THE next chocolate holiday. There is work to be done: my chocolate cupboards are bare and VALENTINES week is going to be here… SOON!

I’m always a little relieved that the first couple weeks of January Retail are typically slow. While most of you are trying hard to keep your News Years Resolution of: “Eat Healthy”, I am spending this quiet time, figuring out what I need to make for the day you wake up and realize that you only live once… and that means: YOU need chocolate… STAT.

Don’t worry, Dear Sweet Resolution Making & Breaking Friends: We’ve been quietly working at THE chocolate SHOP the past two weeks making caramels and truffles and toffee and creams. This is, after all, my 14th Mid-January. I keep good notes. I know what is about to happen.

TODAY is the day that many of you wandered back. Eagerly you stood at THE counter as I weighed out a pound of YOUR toffee. Your eyes are a little glazed over. Very good – you exhibit a delicate balance of self control and eagerness. I tuck every piece of chocolate into YOUR box and close the lid under your watchful eye. “No need for a bow,” you tell me. THIS ONES FOR YOU? Two weeks is a long time to go without chocolate.   No worries – I’m here to help.   A half a pound of milk caramels, coming right up.

Sidwell's Hot Fudge
  • September 10, 2017
  • Comments Off on Summertime – and the livin’ is easy

Summertime – and the livin’ is easy

Thirteen years ago, when my husband and I were trying to decide whether we would buy a chocolate shop or an ice cream store, we had to think about what time of year we wanted to be busy.

Ice Cream? Summer? I saw us handing out ice cream cones to happy children vacationing in Cedar Rapids. I saw us mixing malts for people to carry across the street to concerts. Taking care of sweating customers – with only the thought of cold sweet ice cream on their minds. “I’m here to help.” But, if we owned an ice cream store? We would say goodbye to OUR summer vacations and relaxing evening concerts and exciting festivals in other towns. What summer? We would be chained to our Ice Cream Store.

Right now – I am listening to the song on the radio: Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Oh your daddy’s rich… and your ma… IS TIRED! If I bought an ice cream store? That thought was melting in my mind… I wasn’t ready to give up all that summer fun, to slave over ice cream.

Chocolate? Winter? I saw us handing out chocolate to happy children at The Chocolate Walk in Uptown Marion. I saw us mixing butter and sugar into toffee and covering it in chocolate. Lots of chocolate. For Christmas gifts. I saw us taking care of customers bundled up in coats and asking for valentine chocolate for their sweet hearts. Snow in the air. What else would I be doing in Iowa when it’s cold?

It’s too hot in Iowa in the summer to ship chocolate. Chocolate DOES slow down with the heat. The humidity can actually effect how the toffee will turn out. Who wants sticky toffee? I love camping. I love music concerts. I love the different festivals that are available in different towns every weekend in summer.

And – I love chocolate. It didn’t even take a flip of a coin. The decision was made. And now – 13 years later – Summer is almost over. We are about to head into six months of VERY BUSY chocolate making. But, with a REALLY relaxing summer coming to a close – I’m ready to tackle it.

P.S. Right now? I am enjoying a bowl of someone else’s ice cream with OUR Sidwell’s Hot Fudge on top. I’ve got it made! Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.