The best part of my job is that there is chocolate everywhere around me! People ask me if I ever get sick of chocolate but I think that you can never get sick of good chocolate. When I’m in the office working and an idea comes to my mind, I can just walk out in the kitchen and try it. The creativity is endless in the world of chocolate. Besides being around chocolate every day, I also take it home to have fun with it!
My latest batch of cookies!
My second obsession is baking, with chocolate of course. I’ve tried many recipes with chocolate, but those picked by my husband have become regular. His favorite cookies are Chocolate Chip Cookies. I always bake for enjoyment and all of my recipes are made from scratch. I came across an interesting recipe from Bobby Flay on the Food Network website and decided to use it when I saw that one of the ingredients is muscovado sugar because I had lots of it! My husband went through a baking phase at one point and since he could not find some of his ingredients in stores, he ordered it on Amazon – in large amounts, 4 lbs to be exact! As his baking phase wore off, I had to think of what to do with the leftover ingredients. Muscovado sugar is available in 1 lb bags at Earth Fare and Whole Foods. If you have not used muscovado sugar before, it is unrefined brown sugar with high molasses flavor and it can be used in recipes that call for brown sugar. Muscovado takes its color and flavor from sugarcane juice and it is the least processed of all cane sugars.
Here is my slightly adapted recipe for the cookies: Continue reading
Our chocolate has been enjoyed throughout Europe, Canada, Asia, and Latin America, but did you know it has also been in Space? That’s right, the members of space shuttle mission STS-94 took Sweet Designs chocolate into space shortly after we opened for business. Mint truffles, peanut butter cups, and solid chocolate squares were among the treats enjoyed as the crew orbited Earth. A commemorative plaque complete with foil from the chocolates is hanging proudly in our store!
What do you think is our most important stop everywhere we travel? Seeing a new chocolate shop of course! It is very exciting for us to see what kind of chocolates are out there, especially in Europe. One of our recent trips was to Venice. It is a place that is recognized for its old beauty, romantic atmosphere, bridges and canals, gondola rides, but also exquisite chocolate.
Growing up in Croatia, I did not have a chance to travel much, only on school excursions which were always in Croatia. Living in the US and traveling to Europe is something I look forward to every year, to visit my family of course, but also to see all the new places that I never could growing up. It is even better now, because I can create lasting memories with my husband Mike.
Venice is only two hours away by boat from where I grew up…I can’t believe I have not been there before! It was magnificent, a place like no other! A whole city built on over a hundred little islands connected by canals and bridges, and there are no cars or even bicycles! First stop on our agenda was Cioccolateria VizioVirtu. With a map in his hands when we stepped off the boat, Mike was determined to get us there first thing. We only had six hours before the boat went back so I was not sure that it will be possible for us to find it and still see beautiful Venice. If you’ve been to Venice you know it is nearly impossible to find anything and that eventually you will get lost.
Mike in Front of the Chocolate Shop
After 15 minutes of walking in the maze, Mike yells out: “We’re here!” He claims it was his good navigating skills but I still think that he smelled it! We were so excited to find this chocolate shop and it definitely smelled like chocolate outside in the 90 degree August weather. As soon as we entered this small shop, we inhaled the alluring aroma of all the chocolates being made right there behind the counter with a small machine and a dipping fork. Continue reading
Our Chocolate Santa Boot
This may be Santa’s boot to many of you, but to me it is St. Nick’s boot. Growing up in Croatia, St. Nicholas was the only one that brought gifts. Maybe because Santa was too busy working in the U.S.!
On the night of December 5th, my brother and I would search for our dad’s largest boots and place them outside our bedroom window. I would nicely polish my boot because I knew that St. Nicholas brought more gifts to good children and my dad seemed to encourage that thought. Now that I think about it, he wanted clean boots! Continue reading
This is the first of a series of posts we’ll write about what makes Sweet Designs’ chocolates “European Style”. We are often asked, what does European style mean? It is actually a combination of the technique used to make the chocolates, appearance, types of ingredients, and taste.
Marzipan is a sweet confection made from finely ground almonds. It has the consistency of a dense cookie dough. While somewhat common in its plain form, it can be hard to find good chocolate covered marzipan outside of Europe.
At Sweet Designs, we make two varieties of chocolate covered marzipan, pistachio and fruit. The pistachio marzipan is the more popular of the two and we offer it in a bar form or a bite size ball. It is decorated with toasted green coconut. The fruit marzipan also has a loyal following and contains finely chopped pieces of orange peel and glace apricot inside.
Chocolate Hazelnut Clusters
With or without chocolate, I’ll choose them any day over any other nuts. But what is it about hazelnuts that makes them less popular compared to almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts? Over the years we noticed that they always sell less and that customers will get a box of mixed clusters, but tell us to skip the hazelnuts. Is it a European thing? It must be! Growing up in Croatia, every dessert, cookies, ice cream and chocolate was made better with the addition of hazelnuts. Other flavors do not even stand a chance! It is great that they grow in my grandma’s back yard and every summer I visit, our fun family activity is to crack the hazelnuts together. Continue reading
Mini Clear Ballotin
Have you ever been to a wedding where you forgot the favor on the table or reluctantly saved it in a drawer full of other such trinkets? The purpose of wedding and bridal shower favors is to thank your guests for sharing the joy of these special moments in your life. There are usually many things to be planned for your special day, and favors may be one of the last decisions you make without putting a lot of thought into it. Continue reading
Last year, I wanted to create something special for Mother’s Day. What do Moms like? Chocolate of course! There aren’t many women I know that don’t like shoes also. A few years ago, a friend brought a mold for a chocolate high heel to make for her daughter who is a fashion designer. We made the shoe in milk chocolate and filled it with nonpareils and it was perfect for her fashion show. Although the shoe was difficult to make, we decided to offer a few for sale, but after a couple of weeks there was no interest in the shoe, and the only shoe mold we had mysteriously disappeared. The only person that knew where the mold was in hiding was my aunt, the owner of Sweet Designs. Continue reading
A lot of people ask us what makes Sweet Designs chocolate different from other chocolates. The story goes back 15 years to when Ines created the blend that we still use today. Growing up in Europe, Ines developed a taste for high quality chocolate. It wasn’t until she began blending samples of different types of chocolates that she found the taste she was looking for.
So what’s the secret recipe? Well we can’t give that away, but we can tell you that there is a little bit of dark chocolate in our milk chocolate and a little bit of milk in our dark chocolate. This makes a milk chocolate that is not too sweet with a rich chocolaty flavor. Likewise, our dark chocolate is a lot smoother than other dark chocolates without the bitterness or unpleasant aftertaste. In fact, our plain dark chocolate discs are one of our best selling items.
So why choose Sweet Designs Chocolate? Because it tastes good! We invite you to stop by and try one of our chocolate discs to taste the goodness for yourself.