Today my inspiration is found in a box of chocolates. The chocolates in question are nestled in a lovely gold box, they were hand formed from the finest Belgian chocolate, and they are locally produced, not 20 minutes from my home. How tasty is that?
When my Editor suggested I check out Chelsea Chocolates for an interview and review, I was quite frankly, thrilled. Chocolate and I are very good friends.
My taste in chocolates is discriminating. It has to be dark chocolate and it has to be good chocolate. Chelsea Chocolates surpasses my criteria.
I had the opportunity to meet with owner Laurie Thompson for a delightful interview and tour of her factory recently. The rich scent of chocolate met me at the door, and upon entrance, I was thrilled to be surrounded by chocolaty goodness; shelves and showcases of homemade, handmade, designer chocolates and truffles. I started to salivate.
Chelsea Chocolate began locally 18 years ago, when the original owners were looking to retire, the timing proved ideal, as Laurie and her husband were also ready for a change. As she describes it, they jumped off the biggest mountain possible and bought the business. That was three years ago, and while the learning curve was steep, they have expanded their market and are deliciously pleased.
Laurie previously worked in the wine business, so it was a logical transition to introduce ice-wine, spirits and liquors into their family of chocolates. Chelsea Chocolates produces ice wine chocolates for the major Ontario Wineries including; Colio, Hillebrand, Harvest, Hernder, Josephs, Konzelmann Estates, Kittling Ridge, Lailey, Legends, Peller, Peninsula Ridge, Peter Mielzyns, and Rosewood Estates. The Granite Club in Toronto is another large purchaser of Chelsea Chocolates. It is rather exciting that Simcoe’s own Chelsea Chocolates travel widely around our province. Laurie explained the chocolate making process to me; I watched various steps in production, and I was thrilled to nibble samples.
All chocolate is grown along the equator, then the beans are shipped to Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. Each country has a slightly different method of manufacturing chocolate and this gives it a subtle difference, which impacts on final product. Belgian and Swiss chocolate is known worldwide to be the best quality and Chelsea Chocolate has chosen Belgian chocolate as their variety to work with. Quality is the key word here, as Chelsea Chocolates continues to work in small batch production, rolling their truffles by hand. Molds are a vital component to creating fine chocolates too, as the quality of the mold has a direct impact on the quality of the chocolate. The best molds are made in Montreal and the UK and can vary in price from $5 to $150 for a single mold. The better the mold, the better the shine on the chocolate and that shine is another indicator of quality. Butter, cream, fresh berries and fruits boiled to a paste make the delectable cream fillings, and real mint, orange and lemon oils may also be used. Temperature is a vital component to creating good chocolate. The ideal temperature creates a “bite and snap” reaction when one bites into a good chocolate.
I am addicted to Chelsea Chocolate; one of my personal favourites is the sweet and salty mix of a salted caramel. Numerous styles and flavours are available in milk, dark and white chocolates; truffles, butter creams, and sugar free chocolates are all offered.
A very unique item Chelsea Chocolates produces is called a “smash cake”. This is a chocolate formed cake shaped shell, with a chocolate hammer alongside, that is to be used to “smash” through said chocolate shell, giving access to a delectable selection of truffles housed inside. Laurie shared how thrilled she was that Mike Holmes, he of “Holmes on Homes” fame, was presented with a smash cake on his final day of filming a local renovation this spring. Another smash cake fan was a local bride, whose wedding was showcased on “Four Weddings Canada”. While flipping TV channels just last night, I serendipitously found that very show and was able to see the wedding guests delight in discovering the goodness inside. How smashing!
Chelsea Chocolates can be purchased directly from the factory and may also be found locally at: the Royal Victoria Hospital gift shop, Café Fromagerie, Simply Tea and Chocolate and Apple Annie’s in Orillia.
3471 Penetanguishene Rd. Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada L4M 4Y8
705-725-9210 | phone
705-725-1829 | fax
The factory retail store is open Monday through Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Weekends & Holidays 9:00am – 4:00pm.
Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets