What do you get when you cross chickens with chocolate? Well, if you’re Emiley Stevens, you get Chocadoodledoo!, one of the newest stores in downtown Antigo.
The bean-to-bar chocolate shop and retail store had its soft opening Dec. 24 with its grand opening in mid-January. Located at 816 Fifth Ave. (formerly the home of Wild Epitome wine store), the business name is a combination of two of Stevens’ favorite things.
Stevens, who runs the business with her husband, Altyn, is a certified chocolatier.
“That means I have gone to a professional school and taken classes learning about the horticulture of cocoa, and where it comes from, the countries it grows in, the processing of cocoa, learning how to turn the beans into chocolate and also how to process the chocolate into things that you and I like to eat,” she said.
Everything in the store is made in house. Currently, they buy chocolate to make into their confections.
“We are going to be a bean-to-bar chocolate shop soon, which means once we get the equipment, we’ll actually be making our own chocolate and using it for our confections, rather than purchasing fine chocolate,” Stevens said.
Depending on what is being created, it can take two or three days to transform the beans into chocolate treats.
Some of the time difference is based on the type of chocolate.
“Dark chocolate contains no milk; it only contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter,” Stevens said. “Milk chocolate has a certain degree of milk product added to it.”
Sugar content determines whether chocolate is bitter (dark) or semi-sweet.
“Typically the bitters contain about 70% or more solid cocoa mass, so the more sugar in it, obviously, the sweeter it is,” she said.
There are four kinds of chocolate — dark, milk, white (technically not chocolate as it contains no cocoa solids, just cocoa butter.) and ruby (invented in Europe a few years ago).
Ruby chocolate is from a particular variety of beans that produce a reddish, pinkish hue, and when processed, it looks like it’s colored but it’s not, Stevens said.
“It reminds me of yogurt-covered raisins,” she said. “It has a delicious sweet fruit flavor to it but nothing’s been added to it. That’s just how it naturally is.”
Due to proprietary rules, Stevens probably won’t be able to get the ruby beans, just the chocolate.
Each cacao pod, depending on the variety, contains 20-40 beans. It takes about 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate. One 50-pound bag of beans could easily make 100 pounds of chocolate, she said.
As part of the sustainability of the industry, some companies take the hulls from the beans and steep them like tea.
At Chocadoodledoo!, Stevens creates fudge, truffles, mendiants (dollops of chocolate with nuts and fruits on top), hot chocolate and chocolate-covered items like nuts and raisins. Stevens also makes cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.
“Everything that’s in here is made in house,” she said. “We don’t purchase from other people, then sell their’s. We just make it all ourselves. That way you get the freshest.”
Wild Epitome used to also sell gourmet olive oils and vinegars, and Stevens said she expects those products to return in the spring.
Crafts, vendors and artists also display and sell their wares at the chocolate shop. A 1,500-square-foot meeting room — The Coop — is available for rent to the public.
Drip coffee and tea will also soon be offered.
Hopefully open by Valentine’s Day will be the Dessert Cafe, a cozy area where couples can share a fireplace, special desserts, jigsaw puzzles and board games.
Classes will also make an appearance at Chocadoodledoo! every couple of months. Topics will include how to eat chocolate, pairing classes (chocolate with wine or cheese varieties), the sustainability of chocolate, and more.
“There’s actually a good way and a bad way to eat chocolate to enjoy it to its fullest extent,” Stevens said.