Chocolate is probably the one food that is consistently in almost every holiday ritual, from Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween to Christmas. Plus we give it as gifts, use it as wedding favors, the list goes on.
So I decided to talk to a local chocolatier and get her story and her rituals. I met Laurie Douglass, owner of Laurie’s Chocolates in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, when I was co-hosting the radio program “These Days” on WDVR FM. We tasted her chocolates on the show, and I was blown away by the intense flavors and wonderful varieties that she creates.
I met Laurie in her chocolate kitchen/studio ( after all, it is an art, so I think it is just as much a studio as a kitchen) to talk to her about her life as a chocolatier. She got started over 14 years ago by taking a chocolate making course at The Chocolate Tree while on vacation in South Carolina. At this time, she was working in advertising, and decided that this would be fun to try. She then returned home to Ohio and bought a few molds and took some more classes. A local book store told Laurie that she could sell her chocolates there. Then the owner had her make chocolate frogs for a Harry Potter book release party.
She sold out in 45 minutes.
They then moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and her business has grown. She wholesales her products to local stores, and does custom orders direct.
But what I wanted to know is what are her personal rituals? At the end of the day of making her confections, how does she relax? She said “That’s easy. Two words-wine and a truffle.” After she is done cleaning up, she will have one of whatever truffle she has made, and a glass of wine. She loves to pair wine with her chocolates. Her favorite whites are New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs in the warmer months. In the cooler months, she prefers a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. One favorite of hers is a red blend called 19 Crimes, from Australia. Wine and chocolate together are a match made in heaven; if you have the opportunity to go to a wine and chocolate pairing event, don’t miss it.
Laurie’s mid morning ritual is a cup of one of her hot cocoas, the Buckingham Blend. The burst of sugar helps her get through to lunch. After lunch, she may have some almond bark, or a piece of solid chocolate.
For Laurie, chocolate is what “seals the deal” at the end of a meal. She maintains that if you have a piece of chocolate at the end of a meal, that stops the eating. ( I am going to test that theory!) Chocolate is the final note to any meal, simple or fancy.
I asked her if she had any childhood memories that were a ritual for her. Most definitely. Laurie grew up in Bay Village, Ohio. Every year her family would go to Sell’s, the locally owned family candy store for Easter chocolate bunnies. Her favorite then, and still is today, is the white chocolate Easter Bunny. She still loves a plain, creamy white chocolate. She said that the ritual of going to Sell’s was her earliest inspiration for her chocolate experience.
Her children love the fact that she is a chocolatier. Her daughter had a chocolate fountain at her 16th birthday party! She has also been generous with her chocolates, doing benefits at her daughter’s school and sending care packages to the dorm staff at her son’s college.
What a gift she is giving her children. They will be able to tell their children how their Mom made events in their lives so special and meaningful.
But what really means to most to Laurie is that her chocolates are becoming part of rituals for other people and families. She says that being part of someone else’s ritual is very rewarding and fulfilling. She has many repeat customers, and she is very adept at remembering what each person prefers. Making other people happy is one of her strongest motivations for her creations. How lovely for your day’s work to be a part of someone’s happy moments in their life. Imagine spending your day being creative and knowing that your creation will result in joy for the person receiving it.
While Laurie’s business is growing, she is happy to follow the journey. Without the burden of her own retail store, she can maintain a flexible schedule, and create when and how she likes. Creativity does not always happen from 9 to 5, and Laurie can follow her muse, and loves every minute of it.
We should all be so lucky.
What do you do or make that is part of another person’s ritual? Do you make a favorite meal for your child when they come home from college? Do you have a family recipe that has been handed down?
Creating traditions creates a legacy. Make yours.
For more information on on how and where to purchase Laurie’s Chocolates, follow her on Facebook or go to her website: http://www.laurieschocolates.com/