Homemade Chocolate Gifts http://homemadechocolategifts.com by The Secret Chocolatier Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:40:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 The Secret Chocolatier Year in Review, 2016 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2017/secret-chocolatier-year-review-2016/ http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2017/secret-chocolatier-year-review-2016/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 17:46:17 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=3430 What went on with The Secret Chocolatier in 2016? Check in, see what's going on. Tons and tons of chocolate!

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The Secret Chocolatier Year-in-Review 2016

As we grow and our systems diversify it’s a bit harder for me to pull together all our statistics. Something I figure I should work on through 2017. However, we had a grand year and it’s fun to share some picked numbers for the year. Check out the short video and see what we’ve accomplished! If we’ve made you a happy belly then thank you. If we haven’t made your acquaintance then let’s start today!

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TLC Bark & July JFS Fundraiser http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2016/tlc-bark-july-jfs-fundraiser/ Mon, 01 Aug 2016 17:33:33 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=3346 The culmination of our July fundraiser occurred last week when Logan and I brought a check to our friends at Jewish Family Services.

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JFS CharlotteThe culmination of our July fundraiser occurred last week when Logan and I brought a check to our friends at Jewish Family Services. We proudly sold almost 60 of our now famous TLC Bark! The Littlest Chocolatier was unfortunately not in the best mood for our visit (Chefs can be so moody sometimes. Ha, especially when they’re 5!) I did manage to enjoy an office tour by our gracious hosts.

A Broad Help in the Community

Particularly impressive to me is the overlapping of services through JFS. While people often come to them initially for crisis assistance and use of the food pantry, they are then given the opportunity to meet with a case worker. This gives a deeper understanding of the underlying issue so JFS can continue to support and assist on a longer term basis. Also, their inclusion of volunteers and teaching children about charitable giving is what connected Logan to them in the first place.

Logan at JFSPatience & Learning

While peeking in the pantry, Logan did recognize some vegetables that were picked fresh from the garden outside. Earlier in the Spring his class at Charlotte Jewish Preschool worked in that garden, simultaneously learning and helping others! While he may not have shown it through the scowl on his face (apparently I was taking too long), I know that he was proud ūüėČ As his Mother and Co-owner of this business, I’m proud of how our community supported our endeavor to give back a little of the support that JFS of Greater Charlotte gives to our region.

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A Moment in the Life of The Littlest Chocolatier http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2016/life-of-the-littlest-chocolatier/ Wed, 06 Jul 2016 19:26:24 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=3251 Logan Ciordia has been a part of a small family business since the beginning. His growth is our growth and he's making his own chocolate bark now.

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The Secret Chocolatier started in 2008 at area farmers markets selling a couple large chocolate truffles. Finally opening our first retail store in 2011. A month later Logan Ciordia made his appearance. As a part of our 5th shop anniversary and Logan’s 5th birthday, we decided to play the two together.

The Littlest Chocolatier

Known early on as The Littlest Chocolatier, Logan has been surrounded by food all his life. Carried like a football with dad packing chocolate boxes or doing business to riding in a sling or carrier with mom he was immediately indoctrinated into a small family business and all that it entails. As he grew he would sit in a rocker on the table tops next to his Pawpaw (Chef Bill) and later when he could hold himself up he would mimic what Chef was doing underneath the table stirring pots of water as if batter.

As he has grown so as his imagination. Frequently Logan plays games of ‘restaurant’ where he contrives and builds meals for his audience which ranges from stuffed animals to all of us–that must participate and talk about what we’re sampling. Now he is more than adept at picking out real ingredients and telling us combinations we should try. A young mind adds layers of complexities in what seems like heartbeats and Logan’s mind is moving very quickly indeed.

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
¬† ‚ÄĒ Anonymous
TLC Chocolate Bark

Making Chocolate Bark

Chocolate bark isn’t complicated but it is fun to make. We lead a couple of classes on it monthly and as many can attest it’s a tasty experience.

Logan’s no stranger to playing with chocolate or the sampling of it (heheh.)¬†Robin squared out many of our inclusions that we might regularly have on hand and Logan made a fair go of sampling them and pondering what would work best for his creation.

Once he had decided what he wanted he easily articulated the components and their order. I’m often caught off guard in moments like this. Knowing what he wanted was one thing, describing how the ingredients played well with each other showed a level of understanding that made me grin.

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
¬† ‚ÄĒ Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

Proud Parents, Proud Family

On every level from business to family, inside and out, we’ve grown and continue to do so. It has been a very special privilege¬†to watch us all do so. Even more-so having my son be an early participant in this journey. Where will we go? Where will he go? Only time will tell!

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Survival Tips for a Family Business http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2016/survival-tips-family-business/ Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:41:56 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=3180 The Secret Chocolatier was recently a finalist in the Charlotte Business Journal’s Family Business Awards. It’s nice to have our family recognized. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to...

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The Secret Chocolatier - Family Business AwardsThe Secret Chocolatier was recently a finalist in the Charlotte Business Journal’s Family Business Awards. It’s nice to have our family recognized. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to work with family members. No one is the same, a business is a business, and a family is a family, different rules of engagement¬†when they are by themselves. Combine them and you have even more considerations in the day to day operations of both.

We didn’t take home the award this year but it did go to¬†Hodges Family Farm, and as Slow Foodies we’re happy to have had a farming family take the prize. We thought it would be nice to share some things we’ve learned along our 8 years of working together.

3 Survival Tips for a Family Business


#1 Give Each Other Space

To know if you are going to be a good family business go on a week long camping trip. It’s not a perfect litmus test but a lot of ‘tells’ would show up. As a family business you might live together, you work together, you think and strategize together. That’s a lot of being together. The Secret Chocolatier has expanded far enough where we can orbit each other with a bit more space involved but in the first few years, we were on top of each other. While we might have a great deal of communication¬†bad days happen and when they do you have to give each other space. It’s very easy to escalate the simple into something that becomes untenable. Everyone needs some breathing room, so make sure to give it to each other.

#2 The Art of Compromise

A family business is of delicate accords. Working around each other’s idiosyncrasies to accomplish goals bigger than any one person. In a normal corporate environment if you can’t get along with others your head is usually on a chopping block. In a family business, you have to find a path to compromise. What does that mean? It means you have to work extra hard at finding assignments that best fit the individual. If you want to see goals accomplished you have to have a good alignment of what a family member¬†likes to do. If it doesn’t it won’t get done. Excuses and reasons pile up while the task languishes, frustration grows, and once again you’re having an argument that should never have happened.

Opinions also have their place and it’s good to let everyone have ‘wins.’ Being heard is one thing, letting someone have an effect on outcomes bolsters their moral which in turn spreads to others. If you are weighing options, even if it is not the soundest idea, let others have participation in the outcomes. If it’s a good idea, then everyone benefits. If it doesn’t pan out in the end, use it as a lesson. Raising a business with a family is more like child rearing.

#3 Let It Go

Then you have the times when there is no compromise, energy is high, emotions are running counter to intelligence. Sometime’s it’s good to just let it go. Ask yourself, ‘will this matter in an hour?’, ‘a day?’, ‘a month?’, ‘next year?’ Unless what is going on is going to create a titanic mess just let it go. Otherwise, you have a strong potential to wreck your family relationship.
A company may come and go but our time with our families is finite. Burning relations with your relations is tough to come back from. So, if the tension get’s out of control–let it go. Table your thoughts, walk away, find something to distract you and come back to what is making the issue so prickly later.
You can always see more clearly after the emotionality of it all drains away a bit. Which goes back to #1 and giving each other space. Family business has a lot of circular argumentation to it if you haven’t picked up on it.

A Family Has to Have Lots of Love

This isn’t meant to scare you but make you honest with yourself and your endeavors. A family business is very tough in the best of times. It can end families in the worst. Have lots of patience, love, and honor for each other’s skills, positions, boundaries, and intelligence. I am lucky to have a family that does this most of the time and am¬†very lucky to have them both as a family and as partners.

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A Chocolate Moment http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2016/a-chocolate-moment/ Fri, 08 Apr 2016 17:20:48 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=3136 The post A Chocolate Moment appeared first on Homemade Chocolate Gifts.

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I am a fan of Reddit (salt and all), and participate frequently in their small business communities where I recently ran across Dash Studio.

It’s always fun to find someone in your region and they are just north of us in Raleigh. Having a personal history of computer animation I really like what Dash is up to.

I ended up following them on Twitter and participated in a contest they were hosting to make a company a short. Can you tell we won?

Ain’t No Party
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Secret Chocolatier Party!

The Secret Chocolatier is an avid small business supporter. We row in the same boats and understand the trials and tribulations of one. It’s also the smaller guys and gals that are building the next big companies through their dreams and efforts. We compliment Dash on their work and hope the best for them in their endeavors.¬†Who knows, maybe we’ll work together on some other fun projects! Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Dash Studio
Dash Studio @dash_studio
Raleigh, NC dashstudio.net
A motion design studio built around making incredible stuff.
  • 242 Tweets
  • 374 Followers
  • 254 Following

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Chocolate of the Month Club http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2015/chocolate-of-the-month-club/ Fri, 13 Nov 2015 19:44:03 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=2962   The Secret Chocolatier balances a lot of ongoing projects. Being a small family business means it takes us longer to make real some of those plans. This is one...

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The Secret Chocolatier balances a lot of ongoing projects. Being a small family business means it takes us longer to make real some of those plans. This is one we are glad to finally get out there, a chocolate of the month club.

Eat Chocolate Every Month

Building a Chocolate of the Month Club

Last year we developed a number of confectionary bundles to give you some of our best selections in well chosen, thematic chocolate laden packages. It was our first step into understanding what would begin to be a roadmap for us in developing a well curated monthly selection.

Combining preset chocolate bundles with our ongoing rotation of seasonal offerings gave us quite a lot of chocolate to work with. Then we had to find how much goodness we could package in a price point that felt approachable while also balancing the mean reality of shipping costs. We have found the best balance we could and hope you agree.

Chocolate Deliveries Every Month

It’s easy to sate your chocolate need every month, or even better give this as a gift to a friend who adores high quality chocolates and confections. Orders ship on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.

  • 3 Months of Chocolate : $127.95
  • 4 Quarters of Seasonal Chocolate : $169.95
  • 6 Months of Chocolate : $254.95
  • 1 Year of Chocolate : $510.94

Inside the Chocolate of the Month Club

A look into what chocolates we’ll be shipping. This list may change over time. We follow the seasons, our palates, and most importantly our customers. As we develop new items and find better fits we’ll work them in and retire items. Year after year we should be able to surprise and delight your tastes.

  • July : Party Collection
    Ultimate Caramel Sauce
    Chocolate Fudge Sauce
    4 Chocolate Moustaches
    4 Chocolate S’more Bites
  • August :¬†Seasonal Truffles & Bon Bons
    Seasonal 16 Chocolate Box (Assortment driven by our seasonal selections)
  • September : Exotic Collection
    9 Box of Cardamom Chocolate Truffles, Tres Incendios Chili Chocolate Truffles, Chai Spiced Chocolate Truffles, Coconut Cream Chocolate Truffle
    4oz White Chocolate Cardamom Crunch Bark
    4oz Chocolate Dipped Candied Ginger
  • October, Baked Delights Collection
    4 Coconut Macaroons (2 Triple Chocolate and 2 Classic Macaroons) GF
    4 Biscotti (Vanilla Pistachio & Chocolate Almond)
    6 Halloween Themed Chocolate Dipped Graham Crackers
    4 Bourbon Pecan Bites
  • November¬†: Seasonal Truffles & Bon Bons
    Seasonal 16 Chocolate Box (Assortment driven by our seasonal selections)
  • December¬†: Fruit Inspired Collection
    4oz Roasted Pecan Cherry Chocolate Bark with Sea Salt
    9 Dark Chocolate Dipped Bordeaux Cherries
    6 Box of Orange Chocolate Truffle, Strawberry Balsamic Bon Bon,  Raspberry Buttercream Bon Bon, Bananas Foster Bon Bon, Pumpkin Bon Bon, & Coconut Cream White Chocolate Truffle
Order Your Chocolates Today!

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Let Us Be Your Gift Concierge http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2015/let-us-be-your-gift-concierge/ Fri, 25 Sep 2015 14:56:47 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=2925 Robin at The Secret Chocolatier knows how to help you make an impression with just the right chocolate and confectionary gift.

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In our area you can feel it. Fall is coming. The mornings are becoming a cool 60′ and a shift can be sensed in our shops. A quickening in our kitchens. It’s a revitalizing moment for us in the confectionary trade.

As the gift season looms, and I’ve talked about great gift ideas in the past (you can also see a few gift giving bundles in our store for early ideas), it’s time to start thinking ahead and you need to be thinking about rewarding those around you now.

Let The Secret Chocolatier be Your Gift Concierge

Gift Giving Made Easy

I love working with all sizes of business to build something that makes them memorable to their employees, customers, clients, families, and more.

As a small family business we have a lot of agility and customization we can do for you and believe me when I say we work hard for your business. We appreciate it and want to foster a great relationship, just like for yours.

Reach out to me today we’ve got some great specials we’re running through October for the early bird bookings!

[contact-form-7]

Adobe chocolates framed for sending. Cute project!

Finished gift baskets with custom tags.

NC chocolate gift basket for conference speaker/sponsor

180+ Chocolate packages shipped out. How can we make yo

Corporate meeting favor. 100 boxes of 6 yummy chocolate

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From the Chef’s Table, a Perspective on Teaching Chocolate Truffle Making http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2015/from-the-chefs-table-a-perspective-on-teaching-chocolate-truffle-making/ Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:18:29 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=2866 We learn a lot about ourselves through our classmates. Teach how to make chocolate truffles has great benefits to us as well.

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Our recent foray into conducting hands-on classes has led to a number of revelations as well as a lot of fun! The truffle making class has been particularly endearing. Something about the “golden ticket” level of excitement participants radiate has carried over to our kitchen and affected how we look at ourselves.

The Giddy First Steps

There is a phenomenon that occurs early. New classmates say hello to each other, a pattern of small story exchange of how you know us (The Secret Chocolatier) or what brought you here. Chef Bill then comes out to bring everyone into the kitchen. A hush falls over the group and a natural huddle forms where it feels like a first-year school session. The nervousness is sometimes palatable. We often forget how daunting this must all look.

Chef gives a small lecture, a chocolate syllabus on what is about to go on–all in short order. Then with a smile¬†he’ll say something like:

“This is the last I am going to stand and talk to you, it’s now all about being hands-on.”

At which point a wave of excitement pours through the class. Smiles break out and like kids in our candy shop they are ready to devour all the joys (and toys) around them.

Passion & Joy is Rewarding & Rejuvenating

Thousands of truffles are created on a weekly basis at The Secret Chocolatier. Anything done in that large of quantity and consistency runs the risk of losing the sense of being extraordinary. Seeing others come into our world like wide-eyed children and leave with so much joy at the knowledge learned has reflected back onto our daily work. As Chefs, we have found an unexpected excitement in teaching others about what we do. After each truffle class the kitchen is once again invigorated by what we do.

“Teaching these classes helps me interact with customers in my comfort zone. In the kitchen, I don‚Äôt always get to meet people and answer their questions about what I am making, so this class helps me understand our customers and teach them about what I do every day.‚ÄĚ – Chef Abby

Chocolate Truffle Making Class June

Every Class is Different

The most exciting part is that each class is a new (truffle) ball game. Each participant brings a different view, skill level, and reason for being there. Some ask many questions and want to delve deeper into each process. Some just want to get messy and eat chocolate! In turn, we get to see our world of chocolate from a different view every time. No matter what, the one constant between each class is that everyone walks away happy, and that makes us happy!

See Our Upcoming Event Schedule Here

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International Chocolate Awards Finalist http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2015/international-chocolate-awards-finalist/ Wed, 20 May 2015 17:37:36 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=2749 We are happy to announce that our latest chocolate truffle addition, the 80% dark chocolate truffle, has become a grand jury finalist in this years International Chocolate Awards. Each year...

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international-2015-awards-logoWe are happy to announce that our latest chocolate truffle addition, the 80% dark chocolate truffle, has become a grand jury finalist in this years International Chocolate Awards.

Each year our goal is to continue creating and refining our chocolates to be more competitive on the regional and world stage. In our first attempt in 2013 we were graced by having our cardamom chocolate truffle win a US Silver¬†but we couldn’t quite hold our own in the International round. 800+ products and ours, we’d have to be something incredibly special. Which we hope to one day be.

Last year we had a goal to enter but our kitchen flooded and we had a whole different set of priorities on our hands. This year we entered our milk chocolate, vanilla roobios, and 80% dark and are happy to see one of the chocolate siblings has made it. Later this month we will find out if we take home an award. Regardless of that outcome we are happy to have made it this far and proud of all of those who make it so.

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A Quick History of Chocolate http://homemadechocolategifts.com/2015/a-quick-history-of-chocolate/ Fri, 03 Apr 2015 15:28:55 +0000 http://homemadechocolategifts.com/?p=2622 Interact with a timeline of the finding and subsequent expansion of chocolate across the world.

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In my email today was a school showing off ¬†“A Delicious History of Chocolate” and thought I should share it.

Chocolate has been around for a long long time but it’s real spread began nearly 500 years ago when the Spanish met the Aztecs. Like so many things the trade, usefulness, popularity, and industrialization happened a blink of an eye later.

Enjoy the tour!

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