Sweet in Somerville: EHChocolatier

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When I told Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney- the owners of EHChocolatier- that my first taste of their bonbons was equivalent to hearing The Beatles sing for the first time, their only response was a bewildered expression. I gushed, but it was true. With one bonbon bite, life had meaning. Everything was suddenly clear. The purpose of my existence? Solved. Perpetually seduced by chocolate’s profound power, I have experienced a wide array of varieties- the good stuff, the not-so-good-stuff, and the really­ good stuff. EHChocolatier belongs in the latter.

The really good stuff is the result of deep appreciation for the art of chocolate science, which all but accosts any visitor walking through the humble doors of EHChocolatier. Don’t be fooled by this modest and unconventional brick and mortar that is tucked away snugly in the side streets of Somerville’s Cobble Hill pocket. These treats are anything but simple. If you’re not intoxicated by the aroma of chocolate upon entrance- as I was- you’ll instantly notice an establishment that takes great care in perfecting each bonbon and confection. Elaine and Catharine, as well as the rest of the EHChocolatier team, want their customers to actually experience chocolate. Mission accomplished.

Inside and Outside EH Chocolatier

Inside and Outside EH Chocolatier
Top Image: Outside EHChocolatier , Bottom Image: Inside EHChocolatier

The beginnings of EHChocolatier started in 1999 with a wedding cake. Elaine and Catharine, never having met one another or making a formal wedding cake prior, were charged with the task for a mutual friend.   What could have been a disastrous situation successfully blossomed into friendship. However, Catharine’s eternal love for chocolate paired with Elaine’s creative fascination prompted the partnership that would soon form EHChocolatier. The business started as a chocolate club for friends and family, then evolving into its current practice of making and distributing artful bonbons and confections mostly made to order with fresh, high quality ingredients.

Creating these goodies is not a simple task. It is an all-encompassing production system. Inspired by the many savory flavors from their travels, Catharine and Elaine recall a challenging process of building the perfect total package- an artful, flavorful product that is also beautifully bundled. This includes “balancing creative desires with practicality and efficiency,” as Elaine explains. Presentation matters. What’s in the package though? Nostalgic flavors with a modern twist like the Red Hot Crunch Bar- a white chocolate bar filled with red hots and other spicy flavors. Sweet with a slow heat. These are the varieties of fun flavors Elaine and Catharine love to experiment. Although, the ladies note that getting the perfect flavor sometimes requires seven or eight attempts. That doesn’t bother Elaine. She finds comforting thrill in problem solving all the details, as chocolate is the perfect medium to keep her challenged and constantly learning.

Packaging

My visit to EHChocolatier preceded Valentine’s Day by a few weeks, so I knew I would not leave without a small token…or two… or three. In asking Elaine and Catharine their favorite flavors as recommendations, both women agreed that would be asking the impossible, like picking a favorite child. For every mood is a bonbon to complement. They suggested the Valentine’s Day box, with flavors such as Peppered Pineapple and Passion Fruit. Who was I to refuse the recommendation? I left the store with that, the Red Hot Crunch Bars, and Passion Fruit Caramel confections. As a chocolate fanatic, the two weeks that those treats sat stashed in my kitchen cabinet tormented my soul. Every step past, I thought, “Well I could just get a little taste.  What’s the harm?”. I quickly reprimanded myself for the notion. These aren’t the kind of bonbons a person simply eats as a snack. These are the kind of bonbons that deserve one’s full attention to be thoroughly savored.

Red Hot Crunch Bars, Passion Fruit Caramels, and Bonbon Assortment.
Top: Red Hot Crunch Bars, Bottom (From Left to Right): Passion Fruit Caramels, Bonbon Assortment

The EHChocolatier Valentine’s Day collection was perfect as expected. My husband and I spent the sweet holiday evening indulging alongside a cocktail while watching Casablanca. My favorite was the Red Hot Crunch Bar… or was it the Hazelnut Praline? No, it was definitely the Star Anise/Pink Peppercorn. Actually, I’m thinking it was really the… oh never mind! Regardless, the complexity of each flavor combined with a sultry chocolate texture took me right back to Paris where I frequented globally acclaimed chocolatiers, such as Jacques Genin. EHChocolatier easily compares, which is obvious from their many prestigious accolades. Valentine’s Day is over, but if you want to keep the l’amour going, EHChocolatier will do the trick and then some.

For more information on EHChocolatier and purchasing some exquisite bonbons and confections, please do visit their website: http://www.ehchocolatier.com/ .

À la prochaine!

Passion Fruit Caramels in Heart Packaging