Seth Ellis Chocolatier dark chocolate truffles

Photo credit: Rick Levine

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.

Published by: Eagranie

7 years as a chemist + 9 months of culinary school + 2 years as a pastry chef & chocolatier + a lifetime of writing = this blog. This blog won't always be about chocolate, but it will almost certainly be about food. The name of the blog is a triple play on words. 1. It's a nod to my training as a classical pianist. Among other fantastic accomplishments, J.S. Bach combined technical prowess with artistic inspiration and penned the 24 preludes & fugues that make up The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II. 2. In order to behave properly, chocolate needs to be tempered. In a nutshell, tempering prompts the chocolate to assume its most stable crystalline form (beta prime, if you're interested) so that it is shiny, snappy, and as stable as it can be. 3. Depending on my mood and how we meet, you might agree that I'm well-tempered. Or not.

Categories 2009, TravelTags, , , 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Seth Ellis Chocolatier dark chocolate truffles”

  1. Thanks for the review, Eagrainie! You’ve hit on one of my favorite issues; our dark chocolate truffles are particularly trying for me. I don’t want to give up on our dark ganache, as our 78% organic Peruvian couverture is almost perfect when we infuse cream with a touch of cinnamon.

    But that means I have to live with less than hand-made results, as this particular ganache lives on a narrow edge between being too thick to deposit (something I wouldn’t worry about if I were molding only by hand) and having too much cream to give us a long enough shelf life.

    To add insult to injury, my brother, Neil, insists on having a range of molded shapes in our line, so we’re doing some squares. Even though they’re *pretty* squares, and shapes I don’t often see used by chocolatiers in the states, it’s almost impossible to hit the corners with enough ganache.

    Making the shells thin enough is also interesting. With our depositor we can literally cast filled chocolates with shells so thin you can’t pick them up without breakage. The catch is that a thin shell is also one without enough of a barrier against the elements, and so shelf life again gets shorter. And, in a square shape, as opposed to roundish, all bets are off.

    Tradeoffs are a bummer. But I love this ganache. Having it in the box is better than the alternative. I just close my eyes when I eat it. 🙂


  2. I knew there was something else in the ganache. Cinnamon! Of course.

    Myself, I’ve steered away from square chocolate molds. Inevitably, I end up with bubbles in the shell. I think squares are just tricky overall. That’s probably why more chocolatiers don’t use them – they can get square shapes by using a guitar and then enrobing, without having to deal with square molds.

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