Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney never meant to become chocolatiers. In fact, they first met over a wedding cake. A mutual friend was getting married and enlisted them to bake her cake – something new to both of them. Judging by their continuing partnership, the cake was a success, a challenge that got them started making sweets of their own.
Although neither Catharine nor Elaine had experience making chocolates, both were life long lovers of food with varying degrees of culinary experience. At first they honed their skills, selling to friends and family through a chocolate of the month club, before opening their doors to the public last year.
After a successful season, the duo decided to close up shop for the summer in order to experiment with new flavor combinations. Julia and I, chocolate buyers at our Cambridge and South End locations respectively, jumped at the chance to stop by to see what goodies Elaine and Catherine had cooked up during their hiatus. After a delicious and sugar-fueled trip, I can safely say EH Chocolatier is back in action with a slew of exciting, new chocolate creations joining their original line-up, a collection of chocolates already well on their way to be becoming old favorites!
Elaine and Catharine, proprietors and chocolatiers of EH Chocolatier, were gracious enough to show us around in their Somerville kitchen. Don’t be fooled – Catharine and Elaine might be new chocolatiers, but their confections are anything but amateur. Anyone who is familiar with their chocolates knows that they pay great attention to the details – from aesthetics of packaging and individual bonbons, to the balance of flavors in every chocolate creation. Formaggio Kitchen staff members are vocal in recognizing Elaine and Catharine’s work – in this year’s staff survey, EH Chocolatier’s chocolates were chosen as one of our top 10 of 2011.
A tour of their kitchen revealed just how many details there actually are in the multi-step, labor-intensive process of small batch, hand-crafted chocolates. We watched them whipping up ganache, hand coating chocolates, cutting pâte de fruit and critiquing some experimental chocolates. Take a look at the process below to whet your appetites!
Cutting pâte de fruit:
Dipping and decorating:
The assembly line – applying transfers to the chocolates:
The finished product:
Gini Bell is a cheesemonger and the chocolate buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End.