When I learned how to make molded chocolates (as in, the ones that come in pretty shapes), I had several things beaten into me (nearly literally). The shells need to be completely uniform, and as thin as possible while still holding all its goodies inside.
Well, here’s the thing. Seth Ellis Chocolatier dances that line between artisan chocolate shop and manufacturing facility. Spend five minutes with Rick Levine and hear him talk about how he’s constantly perfecting recipes and trying to get things just right, and there’s no doubt that he’s creating an artisan product. But at the same time, he has to balance the books and produce a certain amount of chocolate in order to balance said books. And so, he has a few machines that help him along the way – as does any chocolatier who turns a profit. Let’s be perfectly clear: the concept of a truly “handmade” chocolate is fine if you’re dicking around in your kitchen at Christmas, but I’ve yet to meet a profitable chocolatier who doesn’t have a few machines up his or her proverbial sleeve.
It’s a tension, but a good kind of tension. I’m still thinking about how I feel about it. I’ll let you know when I’ve come to a decision.
But back to the chocolate shells. Seth Ellis Chocolatier’s dark chocolate truffles taste lovely. It’s a perfectly smooth centre with dark cocoa flavour, and just a hint of nuttiness. But what’s that I spy? It’s a shell that’s thicker on one side than the other, and one that has a bit more chocolate than I’d like in the corners. Picky, I know. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
In the end, it doesn’t make a difference to you or to me, because I’ll still eat these with glee. But it has me thinking about how these particular chocolates are made, and wondering if Rick will figure out a way to perfect the shell so that I can’t tell it was made by a machine. If anyone can figure it out, he can.
Seth Ellis chocolates are available at select locations in the Denver/Boulder area, and that page will soon be updated to reflect the five NYC Whole Foods that now carries them. You can also buy them online through It’s Only Natural Gifts or through Foodzie.