Some valentines may believe that no gift is more adored yet unimaginative than a box of chocolates. Ogden’s own chocolatier, Ruth Kendrick, founder of Chocolot Artisan Chocolates, is out to change that mindset.
With flavors ranging from passion fruit to lavender espresso, Kendrick said she prides herself on making unique chocolates.
“I don’t make chocolate; I make Chocolots,” Kendrick said. “I take finished chocolate and I do pretty things and tasty things with it.”
In addition to the exotic flavors, each Chocolot is molded into shapes like hearts, squares and triangles.
“They’re like your children,” said Kendrick of her chocolates, as to why it’s hard for her to pick a favorite. “My best seller is probably Aztec spice. It’s pineapple, cinnamon, and then you get hit with habanero. It’s not hot, it’s just kind of warm. For me, I like the lemon.”
Kendrick’s chocolate decorating process consists of colored cocoa butter, shaped molds and a few involved steps. “We splatter one color, spray another color, and then fill it (the molds) with chocolate. Then I make the ganache, I pipe it in, then we have to close it with more chocolate and smooth off the backs. Then you pop them out and you have to clean off the molds.”
T.J. Bond, who Kendrick calls her right-hand woman, assists in all things chocolate. Bond takes care of everything from filling molds to applying transfers to the chocolate. “My favorite part is that if you make a mistake, you get to eat it,” she said.
Kendrick is a third-generation chocolatier. “My mother played in chocolate,” she said. “I’m 68, and I don’t remember (ever) not doing it.”
Kendrick has a master’s degree in home economics and used to teach, including occasional candy-making classes. “My students wanted to learn and their mothers wanted to learn,” she said.
Kendrick and her mother, Pauline Atkinson, co-authored a how-to book titled “Candymaking.” From there, Kendrick’s experience grew as she went to Montreal’s Callebaut Chocolate Academy, where she learned how to make higher-end ganache centers.
Kendrick holds numerous gold medals from Taste TV, including Most Gifted Chocolatier and Top Caramel. She has also been a guest presenter on the Trans-Atlantic Chocolate Cruise and has appeared on the Food Network.
Despite her years of knowledge, Kendrick said her job is always challenging, and that’s why she likes it. “If it wasn’t challenging, if it worked perfectly every time, I’d be bored,” she said. “You are never a master of chocolate; chocolate is always in control, and it just lets you play. And you’ve got to have confidence, because it can smell your fear.” But she warned of the repercussions of overconfidence. “I could go along for months, and I’ll push the limits, and then I’ll get a little cocky, and it will mess up, and mess up big time.”
One delicate task Kendrick deals with daily is tempering the chocolate. She said tempering chocolate requires three things: time, temperature and movement.
“You have to be very precise with it,” she said. “It’s not enough just to melt it; it has to be in temper. The chocolate has cocoa butter crystals. You can’t see them, but that’s what makes it melt. People like chocolate because it melts at body temperature. If you don’t get those crystals to form again, the chocolate won’t set up.”
The Queen Bee on Ogden’s Historic 25th Street sells a variety of local chocolates, including Chocolot Artisan Chocolates. “Ruth Kendrick’s chocolates are some of the best I’ve ever had,” said Hailey Zenger, owner of The Queen Bee. “Just knowing that she doesn’t use imitation flavors, she doesn’t do cheap extracts, she does top-of-the-line ingredients — you really can’t beat it. If you taste her chocolates, you kind of don’t ever go back to anything else.”
Chocolot Artisan Chocolates are also sold in Ogden at the Jade Tree Gift Shop and the Beehive Cheese Company. Salt Lake City and Park City selling locations include Paletti, Les Madeleines Patisserie, the High West Distillery and Southwestern Expressions. Orders can also be placed online at www.chocolot.com.