Personal Preferences For me chocolate has always been wonderful, but when I got a job at a chocolate shop, my appetite was heightened. At Red Wing Confectionery in Red Wing, Minnesota, the sweets are hand-dipped right in the back of the shop. The locally owned business sells more than just chocolate — coffee, ice cream, hard candy and more — but if you don’t buy the freshly made “mint meltaways” or “bear claws” (the infamous caramel, nut and chocolate combo) you are wasting your time.
Specially-treated Treats Chocolate is an egocentric little goodie. Let’s use a simple lip-shaped piece of milk chocolate as an example. The chocolate comes in big blocks so the first step is to melt it in a giant churning pot. Once melted, it is poured into individual molds that are placed on a vibrating cart — these vibrations prevent air bubbles from forming. They are then placed in the fridge to dry. Once set, it was my job to take a colored square of foil and wrap the lips. Any rip or flash of silver (the uncolored side of the foil) and you start over.
The chocolatiers need to be very intentional in their work. When washing the molds, each little corner and niche must be thoroughly washed and dried.
When making salted chocolate-covered caramels, the salt must be sprinkled on just as the chocolate is drying, otherwise it doesn’t set.
Any air bubbles or scratches on the sweets and they’re no longer sellable. This was the best part of the job as the mess-ups could be eaten by us employees.
Three products, chocolate-covered caramels, peanut butter meltaways and mint meltaways, look quite similar when finished. The chocolatiers use melted chocolate to draw a design on top to indicate which is which.
My favorite thing to do with chocolate is to experiment with it. Why not take one delicious thing and see what else could make it even more delicious? The Confectionery has some very creative sweets on sale; here is just a list of my favorites:
- Chocolate-covered potato chips (these never stay on the shelves long)
- Double-stuffed Oreos dipped in caramel, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt
- Locally grown apples dipped in caramel, rolled in pecans and dipped in chocolate
- Potato chip bar (SpecialK® bar made with potato chips instead of cereal; sometimes called a scotcheroo)
- Jalapeño cheddar popcorn drizzled with dark chocolate
- Caramel sandwiched between two peanut butter cookies, dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with sea salt
For more information on Red Wing Confectionery, the Red Wing Republican Eagle did an article on the shop in 2014.
A confectionery is a magical place to be. If the idea of scrumptious hand-dipped chocolate does draw you in, the smell surely will. Comment below your favorite chocolate shop, I would love to visit any candy store. You know, for research.