By Leah Matzke & Megan PoehlerFeatured in Make It Minnesota's Winter 2014 issue.
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without tasty holiday treats. Confectioners Robyn Dochterman and Deidre Pope at St. Croix Chocolate Company have whipped up an award-winning collection of delectable chocolate recipes from locally grown ingredients. Paired with a designers touch, their culinary creations are truly bite-sized pieces of art.
They opened their shop four years ago with Robyn as the head chocolatier and Deidre as head of operations. Robyn had been a newspaper editor for twelve years before deciding she was ready for a change. She used to make chocolate at home for Christmas with her family, and knew she wanted to try something with food. Several culinary classes later Robyn found chocolate making to be the blend of art and science she was looking for. Deidre was a writer when she decided to start the business with Robyn.
Their shop is located in Marine on St. Croix, north of the metro area. Robyn describes this sweet, little town as “what Mayberry was like to the Andy Griffith show”. The business is run out of an old townhouse. They use locally grown ingredients and get wild berries and herbs from their own backyard, dairy products from a local, organic dairy farm, and maple syrup and honey from local producers. Robyn describes their products as “hyper-local” and expressed how rewarding it is to “take something produced close to home and not only make it into something new locally but also give it back to the community in a new way.”
The art on their chocolates is a combination of things. Some are hand-painted. For the more intricate designs, they use an edible, cocoa butter silk screen. Robyn said that she always wanted to be an artist as a kid. She never got to create in the way the she does now with her chocolates, and she loves it. “We don’t just mold hearts - we use European technique and pair that with local ingredients to create a uniquely American taste.”
One of their biggest events is Caramelpalooza, which takes place around mid-October. It’s a one-day event that features entertainment, activities, and samples of their seasonal flavors and caramels. Robyn explains the inspiration for this type of event. “There are hundreds of annual events for craft beers on any given weekend - but for caramel where do you go? We sell lots of caramels in our store and I feel the caramel’s time has come.” Over 300 people came out this year to experience the event and sample a variety of caramels.
We asked how they keep from eating chocolate all day. Robyn laughs, “We taste our chocolate for quality control, but our chocolates are very rich and satisfying, so one is usually enough”. The customer-favorites are the sea salt caramel, key lime pie, and the peanut butter. They have won many awards including “Best Chocolate 2013” in the Twin Cities by City Pages. Including their own shop, their products can be found at the Mill City and Kingfield farmers markets.
For more information, visit www.stcroixchocolateco.com.