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Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008, the year that was.

I don't have much to say here except, thank you all so very much. It was a stellar year in the kitchen, and in this economy, I couldn't be happier. Last week this time I was still in a chocolate tempering, dipping,and molding frenzy. I did my very best to get all of your orders out accurately and in a timely fashion. That said, if something didn't arrive as you thought, or if you have any questions about anything, please let me know. My obsessive attention to detail was strained by the sheer number of orders, and I want to make sure that each and every one of you wonderful chocolate eaters are happy.

2008 has been one heck of a year for me, some of it was very good, and some of it was not. I started this year as Løve and ended it as Luca. I may not have made that decision without significant outside "encouragement", but I'm happy with it, and I look forward to many many more years as LUCA Chocolate. This was the year that I began sending out a box of chocolates every month to subscribers, and the year I finally figured out the best way to secure twelve pieces of chocolate in the box!

I couldn't review the year without mentioning the bacon. Oh the bacon. I've probably gone through about 50 pounds of bacon since March, and I have Alex Zalben of the Modern Materialist to thank for it. When I offered to make him some chocolate covered bacon, I really had no idea that so many other people would want it. So thanks, Alex, you really made my Christmas this year. I can't say that I'll be adding any other chocolate covered or infused meat products this year, but if you want some, don't hesitate to ask. Your white chocolate covered pepperoni is but an email request away!

So look for new flavors, more streamlined ordering and lots more retail locations in 2009. I look forward to sharing it with all of you. (and if you want to share this great chocolate company you know, LUCA Chocolate, with a couple of your friends, well, I won't complain one bit!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Mailings

Just a little programming note - tomorrow at 6pm is the last possible second for you to order chocolate and have it arrive in time for Christmas. Feel free to keep ordering, but unless you live in Asheboro, NC - or - choose express mail - or - contact me about faster shipping through one of the commercial carriers, it won't arrive by Dec. 25.

Thank you all so very much for making this a very busy and productive season for LUCA Chocolate.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back in the Saddle

What can I say? I'm a terrible blogger. Hopefully, people who know me think I'm a better person than I am a blogger, because if not, I'm totally failing at life. Suffice it to say, it's been a rollercoaster of an autumn. Things happened, tears were shed, dogs were adopted, ponies were rescued. I've been busy.

But I've also been hard at work in the chocolate kitchen, and things are moving right along, and back on track! Or should I say, bac-on track? (Oh Leslie, please no puns) Chocolate covered bacon continues to be a big hit - I'm hoping the hog farms of NC can keep up with the demand. The very cool guys over at Cool Hunting have added me to their holiday gift guide. Thanks to them, and go check out all their other offerings if you want to be the cool gift giver this year.

It's not all bacon and bourbon truffles here, though. The winter flavors are especially delicious - Peppermint Truffles are back by popular demand. This year, they're joined by Coconut Cardamom Creams - a buttercream blended with toasted coconut and warm cardamom (it's one of those spices that you'll find yourself craving), Blood Orange Creams - tangy blood oranges and candied ginger mingling together in a festive pink buttercream, and Rum Raisin Creams - it's looking like A Very Buttercream Christmas this year, but rum raisin was a big hit in the fall, and I had to keep it running - this bonbon is a toasty marriage of Jamaican rum and golden raisins.

Also new for the long dark nights are Winter Spice Marshmallows. There's just something about a homemade marshmallow, it's addictive. These are especially addictive, because I start with a chocolate spice marshmallow, top it with ginger ganache, and top that with a toasted sweet and salty pecan. The whole business is dropped head-first into milk or dark chocolate. There really isn't any stopping with one, so be forewarned.

My last tidbit of news concerns the Weaver Street Market. If you're a shopper in the area, you may have noticed a decided lack of LUCA lately. We're re-vamping for a new line. Tentatively called LUCA signature, it will be all the best of the basics, in a windowed box, priced for snacking. Look for it on the shelves in the next week.

So that's all the news I've got to share right now. I promise not to be so delinquent in my posting of news and information in the future. Now go buy chocolate!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

programming note

Just a quick note, the chocolate kitchen will be closed this week, so any orders you place will go out next Monday. Thanks for your patience, and I'll be posting photos of chocolate tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On nuts and allergies..

"May contain traces of nuts", "processed in a facility that processes wheat"...chances are, you've seen this warning on at least one or two packages of processed food. If you look on the back of my boxes, you'll see a similar warning. But a recent report on Marketplace made me consider the implications of my labeling.

I actually don't constantly work with nuts. There are a handful of recipes that contain them, and I don't make them every week. But I've never had a potentially hazardous food allergy. We've all heard some six o'clock news story about a child whose life hangs in the balance because of a chance encounter with the remnant of a peanut. So how much nut is too much nut? (or dairy, or wheat, or soy?)

The purpose of the story was to illustrate the wide variations in these allergy warnings, and to report that the FDA is considering regulating such warnings in order to provide consumer confidence and greater uniformity in the wording. Personally, I'd welcome such regulation, because it's all such a gray zone to me. If I chop some walnuts for a ganache, is the cutting board free of walnut traces after a good wash? Two washes? What if I wash my hands and dry them on a towel. Is there nut oil on the towel?

You can see where this is going. The last thing I want is to make someone sick by unintentionally feeding them nuts or dairy or soy or wheat. Having one's throat swell up is not the way to best savor a sea salt caramel or a bourbon truffle. So, until the FDA gives me a better cheat sheet - you should know that when I warn you that my chocolates have been produced in a facility that also handles nuts, soy, wheat and dairy, that's exactly what I mean. And if you ever have any questions about a specific product, don't hesitate to call. As always, if you have special needs or allergies, make sure you call or email, and I'll do my best to accomodate you.

There's a code on every box sold in retail that tells me exactly when I made the product and when it should be consumed for best flavor. It's eight digits - the first four are the date it was made, the last four are the date it expires. I should qualify that by saying, it doesn't really "expire", it just won't taste as good. Of course, if it's several months past, you probably don't want to eat it anyway!

With that, I'll tell you that I'll be posting new flavors next week, and changing the website offerings. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Random notes.

Big thanks to Book of Joe for not only replying to my email, but actually posting about it!

The bacon chocolates continue to gain in popularity, one couple is even featuring them at their rehearsal dinner.

A longer post and new flavors coming soon...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

this is what my tastebuds do when I eat chocolate...

A friend of mine sent me the link to this, and it made me smile, hopefully it will do the same for you.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Things might not be the happiest right now, we're all stressed about our upcoming election, fuel prices, the economy, blah, blah,'s all very important stuff, and we most certainly should be paying attention. But sometimes it all runs together and we need a moment to remember that we have to take a little time to find some joy - whether it's dancing, or singing or having a big piece of chocolate (guess which is my favorite).


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

After Dinner Chocolates

Great meals have a way of satisfying you and leaving you wanting more all at the same time. The savory dishes tend to win out over the sweet, and by the time dessert rolls around, you may crave something sweet but there simply isn't that much room in your stomach. Sure, lots of restaurants keep a bowl of peppermints by the cash register for just such an occasion, but what if you don't like peppermints? What if you want to keep that epicurean vibe going with just a small bite of something sweet, rich, and satisfying? (Can you see where I'm going here?)

If you're eating at M'Coul's Pub in downtown Greensboro, you've now got a perfect option. LUCA Chocolate is now on the menu as an after dinner, after dessert, or with-your-drink option. Currently, they're selling two flavors, the Sea Salt Caramel and the Dark Chocolate Truffle, but the menu will change with the seasons. A great display case is in the works, but for now, just ask your server for LUCA!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A tiny little kitchen visitor.

A few days ago, the newest member of the kitchen team arrived. His arrival was a little unorthodox, not many employees arrive through the mail. Obviously, no one informed him of our warm summers...

Under his parka, he was dressed for work, which he began immediately...

He was a little clumsy with the chocolate, though he seemed pleased with himself...

In the end, we decided he might want to stick to his original job description, storing data. After all, he is a 1GB usb flash drive.

Special thanks to Kary Rivera over at fling it girl, soon to be one of the hottest shopping communities on the web.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Long Vacation is back!

Actually, it's back with a twist. This year, I've added a mango-chile truffle to the mix. Here's the rundown of the flavors:

Key Lime Cream: tart limes, sweet, creamy buttercream, all in a dark chocolate shell, what more could you want?

Coconut Cream: like a tiny slice of coconut cream pie, tropical toasted coconut and just a hint of extra butter in the buttercream, also in dark chocolate

Mango Chile Truffle: the new arrival for the summer, I've combined exotic mangoes with a spicy Japanese chiles in a white chocolate ganache, complemented by the richness of dark chocolate

Sea Salt Caramel: even long vacations benefit from a little taste of the familiar - this is the classic, sweet, smooth caramel enrobed in dark chocolate with a touch of Celtic grey sea salt on top

You'll notice that all the summer flavors feature dark chocolate. In addition to being the most "good for you" kind of chocolate, I also think the complex flavors and slight (very slight) edge of bitterness are a great complement to the sweet, tropical flavors of summer. If you absolutely have to have your key lime cream in milk chocolate (or white) just send me an email or make a note in the special instructions box on the order form, and I'll be happy to accommodate.

Order Here

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bacon and Chocolate, the movie.

You can now find chocolate covered bacon for sale on the website. I've had a lot of good response from the blogs (including one from, and several orders. The box includes 8 pieces of chocolate covered bacon, 4 bacon caramels, and 2 bourbon and black pepper truffles. There's also a big box (that's one whole pound) with double the amount of chocolatey-bacon goodness.

Once more just for the record, what does chocolate taste like when paired with bacon? It's pretty darn good. It's sweet, and salty, and a little smoky and really something you might just need to try.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer is here...

...and that means I've got to increase my shipping rates. Starting June 1, I'll be shipping in insulated containers with ice packs, which means a heavier package that costs more to ship.

It also means the return of the key lime cream and coconut cream! I'm also working on a coconut-lime brittle, so I'll keep you updated, keep checking here and the website for details.

A final note, the bridal show was a great success, thank you to all the lovely brides and grooms and bride entourage who attended the show. I hope to make chocolate for all of you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bridal Show today

*image courtesy of
Just a quick note to remind any blog readers in the Triad area that I'll be at the Castle McCulloch bridal show today, from 6-9pm. I'll be handing out free chocolate, and more than happy to discuss wedding favors, thank you gifts, or current events. I do believe you need to register, though it's easy enough, just call 336-887-5413 and they'll help you out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bacon and Chocolate, Part 2

I've discussed the pairing of breakfast meats and candy before Bacon and Chocolate, June 12, 2007. One might assume that I'd said all I had to say about it. One would be wrong...

A couple of weeks ago, I was flipping through one of my favorite blogs and came across this.. Find me that chocolate covered bacon. As an enterprising chocolatier, I couldn't let an opportunity to make somebody's food dream come true. So I wrote to the author, offering my services.

He emailed me back a week later, and I got to work. I didn't want to just send him a box full of bacon covered in chocolate, I'm too creative for that. So I put together a box with chocolate covered bacon, bacon covered caramel, and a couple of my favorite non-bacon creations. I think the results were well received...Chocolate covered bacon video. Not only did he like the chocolates, but I have the honor of being part of the very first Modern Materialist Video post!

What do you think? Should I add chocolate covered bacon to the Luca Chocolate stable of products? Let me know what you think!

Monday, April 28, 2008

More good news...

Reuters Health is reporting that chocolate may reduce the risk of preeclampsia. "Women who ate five or more servings of chocolate each week in their third trimester of pregnancy were 40 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who ate chocolate less than once a week."(Link to article)

You know what that means don't you? Chocolate for all the pregnant ladies! Go on, have another piece, it's good for you!

Might I suggest something from the LUCA line? Order a box or get set up for lots and lots of boxes with Chocolate of the Month.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Metamorphosis (almost) complete

So here we are - things look a little different, yes? The reasons for this change are irrelevant (sort of, I'll probably tell all about it at some point), but the fact remains that today is the end of LØVE and the beginning of LUCA. You'll notice a different address in your browser - I'm pretty sure that if you're a subscriber, nothing changes, but if you've got me bookmarked, go ahead and change it to

The new website ( is also complete. It's got a cool new layout, and I think, a much easier shopping interface. Do let me know what you think, and of course, if you find any mistakes, shoot me an email. Again, go ahead and change your bookmarks, though it will redirect you to the new site on its own.

Let's start with the obvious question...who is LUCA? What is LUCA? In a nutshell, this is LUCA:

He is a big, beautiful, brilliant horse, and the new namesake of my company. He is NOT allowed near the chocolate, but he makes his own sort of executive decisions nonetheless.

I'll debut the new logo in the next couple of days, and you'll start to see new boxes in stores and your mailbox. I'm sidelining the dark brown box and ushering in a new bright aqua box. The colors stay the same, just reversed, so look for the aqua box with the brown stamp. I'll also be sidelining the stamp in favor of a slick label (though it will still have the hand carved look of the old version). This is more of a sanity decision - as the orders have begun rolling in, the ability to hand stamp the boxes dwindles. If you still want a hand stamped box, I'll be more than happy to make you one, just leave me a note in the comments box when you order and you'll have your own little piece of LUCA chocolate artwork.

I want to thank all of you again for being so supportive, this has definitely been a challenging time, and really not one that I anticipated. I think I've done a good job of rolling with the punches, and I know we're going to come out of this bigger and stronger and tastier.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cakes, why I don't make them, and where you should buy your next one.

People often ask me if I make cakes in addition to chocolates. There's a very simple answer to this I am a pastry chef, and I do occasionally make a cake for friends or family. My passion does not lie with cakes, however. I think they're beautiful, and really one of the most satisfying sweet things to eat. Cakes can become rather finicky things - they can dry out, get soggy, get smudged or just fall apart completely. Chocolate has it's finicky moments, too - but I'm much more familiar with those pitfalls, and happy to deal with them.

Fortunately, my dear friend Jill and her sister Courtney have started Two Cupcakes Bakery to fill the need for fantastic cake. Jill and Courtney and I were in New York City at the same time. They were in the pastry class ahead of mine at the French Culinary Institute. I can personally attest to the exceptional quality of these cakes, and they're as gorgeous as they are delicious.

So if you need a cake - visit Jill and Courtney. If you need chocolate - visit me.

What's in a name?

This is one of those frustrating bits of news. This is the first public sharing of the information, though close friends and associates have already heard the tale...

I won't go into great detail at the moment, because several details are still in limbo. The super condensed version is this: LØVE Chocolate will soon be no more - I'm changing the name to LUCA Chocolate. Don't worry - everything you've come to love about LØVE will still be here. The sea salt caramel isn't going away.

The still abbreviated version is this: there is a similarly sounding company in a state on this coast but more than one state away. They have aggressive and expensive lawyers, who have enough money at their disposal to do silly things, like try to eradicate all other companies with names that sound like theirs. I also have a very qualified lawyer (considerably less cash at my disposal, though), who initially thought this would be an easy enough thing to stop. Unfortunately, silliness overtook reason, and, instead of fighting what might have become a losing battle, I decided to go with the option that left me free to continue doing what I love - making chocolate that makes people happy. Anything else might have taken copious amounts of time and money, not to mention frustration. Many dear friends have been outraged by this chocolate man - who has already made a very successful name for himself and suffers no threat from me. I appreciate that outrage more than they can know - it really does make me feel appreciated. Many have also suggested some form of retaliation - and while I do want to make this story a little more well known, I also want to simply move on and keep building myself up, not tearing others down (no matter how deserving they may be). When I can tell the whole story, I promise I will. In the mean time, I'll continue posting here for a few more weeks, and then I'll be fully transitioned to and If you're a subscriber, please do join me at the new blog, it means a lot to me that you've stuck with me so far, and I hope you'll keep it up.


No, you won't find me posted on PerezHilton or TMZ (thank goodness), but a few weeks ago, I was plastered across the front page of the Courier-Tribune. A few weeks before that, reporter Chip Womick and photographer Paul Church visited me one rainy Thursday morning to talk about all things chocolate.

This wasn't my first interview about my business, but it was certainly the most in-depth. I treated them to a demonstration of making vanilla buttercreams, and we talked and took pictures for a good three hours before all the information had been gathered.

The response has been fantastic. I've gotten lots and lots of encouraging comments, and the Arts Guild is having a hard time keeping my chocolate in stock. I'll try to get a good scan of the article and post it here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Updates, New Retail Location

First of all, apologies for the lapse in news. It's not that nothing's going on, it's that so much has been going on that I haven't had time to collect my thoughts. So, on to the updates!

Over the next few days, I'll get you up to date on all the good and frustrating things that have been going on in the chocolate kitchen.

The first big update is a new retail location! Etc. Boutique is a new high-end shop offering beautiful and hard-to-find clothes, jewelry, and decor. It's run by Julia Griffin, and I'm thrilled to be a part her new venture. She's located at 1003 Sunset Avenue in Asheboro, NC.

View Larger Map

Friday, February 29, 2008

Small Town Sophistication

It all started with a bawdy joke from a well-respected urologist. I don't think I got the same level of laughter, but I did alright.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Asheboro Rotary Club about the origins of chocolate and how bon-bons are made. I'm still quite new to this public speaking business, but I'm getting better, and everyone seemed to enjoy it (though I kept the bawdy jokes to nil). As a small business owner, the opportunity to speak to a large portion of the movers and shakers in my town was priceless publicity. But, more than that, it was a chance to share a little more of what I love with the town that I call home.

I've lived in the greatest city in the world, and I've seen a lot of beautiful European cities. I count my time in those places among the treasured moments of my life. But this dirt, this air, these trees and lakes and streams are my home. I don't think I truly knew what it meant to find home until I left it. It's one of the reasons I chose to base my business here. Sure, New York or Boston or Chicago would be more lucrative for a fine chocolate producer. But I think it's time my little corner of the south had the same level of sophistication as a big city - at least when it comes to chocolate. Who says you have to have high rise office buildings and constant traffic jams to enjoy good, worthwhile food? Let's just call it, "small town sophistication".

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Last Chance for Valentines!

Just a note - you've got one more day to order chocolate and get it by Valentine's Day. Don't worry though, if you miss the deadline, you can always go with a gift certificate (scroll down to the bottom for the gift certificate link) or the chocolate of the month subscription.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


If you visit the website today, and you should, you'll find that everything's different. I've spent the last few days re-vamping the whole darn thing. I think you'll find this version is a little easier to navigate, a little prettier, and chock full of pictures (which is one request I hear quite often). There are still a few kinks - some of the words run off the page in places, but they'll be fixed soon enough.

The shopping experience hasn't changed, you'll still find the familiar checkout and have the option of PayPal or Google Checkout. Chocolate of the Month has changed - it's now a subscription service instead of a big purchase. So, for $19.95/month, you can have a new and exciting box of chocolate delivered every month, for as long as you like!

If you find anything that needs adjusting, or if you're missing something from the old site that didn't find its way over, send me an email or leave it as a comment.

You'll also find a new flavor - just for Valentine's - Strawberries and Champagne. It's a milk chocolate ganache studded with strawberries and spiked with champagne, in a dark chocolate shell with a little popping surprise inside. (don't worry, they're just Pop Rocks).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Spring Flavors

What better day to reveal the first hints of spring flavors than on the coldest, muckiest, iciest day of the winter? I've been busy perfecting the new flavors, so I hope you'll take a few moments in the coming days and weeks and order a box of your own...

Hibiscus-Tamarind Cream: Let's just get started with a bang, shall we? Hibiscus isn't just a pretty flower, it's also a lovely, tangy flavor (usually brewed into tea). I've reduced this sweet-tart tea down to a syrup and blended it with tamarind puree (another tart, tangy treat) and just a hint of chile. I wrap it all up with a white chocolate shell. Not only is the Hibiscus Tamarind Cream light and refreshing, but it's quite pretty to behold...

Ginger Cherry Cordial: This is the chocolate covered cherry with a kick. I started with a tart morello cherry, infused it with fresh ginger syrup, and topped it all off with a black cherry fondant and a deep, dark chocolate shell...

Cherries and Saigon Cinnamon Truffle: Are you noticing a pattern here? It is almost Valentine's Day, and nothing says romance quite like sweet red berries. Dark chocolate ganache is kicked up with Saigon cinnamon (tastes like the little red cinnamon hearts) and black cherry juice...

more flavors tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2008

the flavor-making process

I've been holed up in the kitchen for the past week and a half, trying to come up with brilliant new flavors that will cement LØVE chocolate into your hearts and tastebuds forever. Last year, work circumstances prevented me from having a big Valentine's, and I'm hoping to reverse that this year.

Before I get to the big flavor reveal, I thought I'd get a little more in-depth with the process of creating a new flavor. There are a few necessary factors that must be considered - obviously, it needs to taste good, it should be either a classic combination or an innovative one, and it has to have the staying power to last about a month.

Let's start with taste. It's always been my intention to create flavors that are memorable. The first step on that path is good taste. As any good cook will tell you, the easiest way to make a memorable meal is start with high quality ingredients. For me, that means chocolate that revels in its cocoa-ness, the brightest, freshest fruits, and butter and cream from happy, local cows.

After the ingredients are covered, I have to consider the combinations. My main consideration has always been innovation, and unique pairings that work. I don't want an anchovy and lavender truffle... unless it's the most amazing thing you've ever put in your mouth (don't worry, it's not in the works). Instead of being weird just to be weird, I try to think of the flavors that I love, and translate them into chocolate. The easiest example of this is the LØVE Chocolate signature - sea salt caramel. Salty and sweet are satisfying at a primal level - the nuances of fine chocolate and buttery caramel just add to the pleasure.

It's not all about innovation and uniqueness, sometimes the most satisfying taste is the familiar one. When crafting a flavor that has its roots in tradition, it all comes back to the ingredients and the technique. Balancing the individual notes can elevate a classic combination - like chocolate and peanut butter - into something a little more sophisticated, a little more interesting.

The last factor is just as important as the first two. I believe that chocolate candies are the best moments after they're made, and it's my goal to put them in your hands as soon after that as I can. But maybe you have a modicum of self control and don't eat them all as soon as the postman drops them off (I have clients who do, and they may be my favorite people ever). You may also have purchased my chocolate from one of the local retailers who stock it (also on that favorite list). To that end, I'm always considering scientific things like water activity and pH as well as the more creative things. It's not necessary to get into a long explanation - perhaps another day. The easiest thing to remember is that less water = longer shelf life, and more acidic things tend to last longer, too.

All of this is just a big, teasing lead-up to the new flavors...which will be here tomorrow!

Monday, January 7, 2008

The News in Brief

It's been a busy time in the LØVE Chocolate kitchen. I'm coming up with lots of new flavors, and lots of lovely changes are in the works for the website. Perhaps most exciting to me is the completion of the new kitchen, which is very very close. There were some stumbling blocks along the way, but we've jumped those hurdles, and we're back on track. Expect a before and after photo montage very soon.

As for the new flavors, you'll see more of them starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A very good year.

Now is the time when thoughts turn to the future and the past. I've been thinking quite a bit about the events of the past year, and where I want to go in the future.

It's hard to believe that I've been in business for a full year, and that this company was just a few scribbles on a notepad only a year before that. In that time, I've made thousands of caramels, melted hundreds of kilos worth of chocolate, and folded about a million boxes*. The amount of work I've done can only be equalled by the amount of fun I've had. Nothing has been so rewarding as making all the decisions I've made, no matter how seemingly insignificant. This year, I learned to believe in myself more than ever before. I've seen what can come from hard work, dedication,and the support of friends and family. To everyone who has made my first year a success, I cannot thank you enough.

This year is going to bring a lot of exciting changes. A new website is coming soon, with lots of new pictures and flavors. Soon, you'll be able to find LØVE Chocolate in many more local shops, and you just might be eating it at the next wedding you attend. You can look forward to lots of photos, updates and new flavors in the weeks and months to come.

It's going to be a very good year.

*figures are all estimates based on emotions and fuzzy facts