If Forrest Gump was right, and life really is like a box of chocolates, then you definitely won’t want to miss out on these three local chocolatiers.
For those who also loudly and proudly proclaim themselves chocoholics, here are three local chocolatiers you will most certainly want to sink your sweet tooth into.
The path Robyn Dochterman followed to owning her own chocolate shop was perhaps less conventional than others. Before Dochterman opened the doors to St. Croix Chocolate Company, she was a journalist for many years in the world of newspapers.
“Back in 2008 during the recession, which hit newspapers very hard, I got laid off and decided I was ready to switch careers and do something in food. Though I had no experience in food, not even as a waitress, I’d been blogging about organic gardening and raising my own chickens and bees with my partner, Deidre Pope. I explored bread-making and artisan cheese, but when I took a professional chocolate class, I was hooked,” Dochterman says.
For Dochterman (and many chocolate lovers, I’m sure), chocolate is magic. “You can make truffles so good they practically stop time when people taste them. You can make different flavors come alive and dance on your tongue. You can feature a flavor like local wild grapes you just picked, or you can shine a light on a particular exotic chocolate and make it the star. And you can actually paint with chocolate and make gorgeously colored boxes made of chocolate,” she says.
If you swing by St. Croix Chocolate Company, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have any prior engagements for the next hour (or the rest of the day). With 25 different kinds of truffles, bonbons and caramels, there is truly something for everyone’s palate.
“Sea salt caramel is always popular, but all the flavors have their fans, including Key Lime Pie, Passion Fruit, Peanut Butter and Lemon ‘Spresso, which is a lemon truffle with chocolate crunchies in it, rolled in espresso sugar. We can’t keep that in stock,” Dochterman says. “Oh, and I just started making a chocolate that has a layer of butterscotch and a layer of Bailey’s Irish Cream. That’s going to be a favorite of a lot of people.”
Dochterman says they like to get involved in the community outside of the chocolate shop, too. She says that last fall, a couple asked her to make chicken of the woods mushrooms out of chocolates to go on their wedding cake, which was in the shape of a tree stump for their woodsy-themed wedding. The GLBT community is, as it always has been, an important community for Dochterman, too.
“We love being part of the community and were just a major sponsor for OutFront’s fundraising gala at Union Depot in St. Paul. We provided more than 2,000 chocolates for dessert,” she says. “We can’t always contribute at that scale, but even small things, like our ‘All Are Welcome Here’ sign in our shop window, and being out and being ourselves in our shop, make a difference. And we’re always proud to do that.”
11 Judd St.
Marine on St. Croix, MN
Mary Leonard followed her love for chocolate and dream of owning her own business after a long career in food and technology. Though Chocolat Celeste wasn’t exactly what Leonard initially imagined for herself, it has turned into an award-winning chocolate shop.
“I chose chocolate as the medium for my creativity. Initially I chose to have a web-based business to provide artisan chocolates nationwide. I wanted to create something so much more than a piece of chocolate,” she says. “I wanted to create experiences and the experience of opening a box of beauty. Now customers may order online or by visiting the boutique. The chocolates are made onsite of all fresh ingredients.”
While many chocolate shops are known for their wacky flavors and creative combinations, Leonard says she likes to stick to the basics by allowing her chocolates to reflect their ingredients in their most natural form.
“I am a purist. I create truffles and bonbons from super premium chocolate from France, Germany, and Switzerland, fresh butter from award-winning Hope Creamery and Pride of Mainstreet Dairy,” she says. “Many of the chocolates are adorned with images. The signature line includes images of the cacao plant: the flowers and the pods that grow from the trunk of the tree, cacao beans, and colors of fermented cacao prior to the roasting (ruby and blue).”
Chocolat Celeste also offers chocolate and wine tastings for private parties and corporate events. “I have a degree in food science and coursework in chocolate technology. The events are fun and educational,” she explains.
652 Transfer Rd., Suite 16A
St. Paul, MN
Having worked for Pillsbury and Cargill and interned with chocolatiers in Paris, Tuscany, Belgium, Vancouver, and other places across the world, Pat Godfrey’s calling to chocolate was more than a little obvious.
Now the owner of Painted Turtle Chocolatier, Godfrey spends her time following her passion for chocolate by creating artisan chocolates complete with custom designs.
“We have more than 40 flavors of truffles, which are decadent chocolate ganache with special flavors,” she says. “We do numerous special chocolates that use custom molds for customers for special events whether it be an animal, car, Eiffel Tower, etc.”
In addition to chocolate, Painted Turtle offers other sweets like caramels, but perhaps what really puts them on the map is their Belgian chocolate.
“What sets us apart is that we use high quality Belgian chocolate, and we do custom designed chocolates that taste as good as they look,” Godfrey adds.
229 Central Ave. NE