With its whimsical lollipop tree and colorfully wrapped parcels of small-batch chocolates, Sjölinds Chocolate House in downtown Mount Horeb is expanding to include a chocolate factory set to open by Christmas. It seems that people aren't the only ones who don't tolerate the heat and humidity so well. Chocolate can get just as cranky, refusing to become smooth, shiny and snappy—qualities that make chocolate lovers swoon.
According to co-owner and mom of the family-run business, Tracy Thompson, the factory will provide two rooms for chocolate making. The "Hot & Dirty" room is where cacao beans will be roasted and ground, and the "Cold & Clean" room is where the tempering and molding will take place.
In deciding how many square feet to build for the factory, Thompson gives me a glimpse into a very technical process. "I went to the bank and said, ‘I have this many monies. How much space does that buy?'"
Turns out it buys 2,000 square feet. The foundation is poured and the walls are set to go up next week at the east-side building site. The factory will have a small dining space with a fireplace and will run regular chocolate factory tours. Okay, I will say what you're all thinking, a la Willy Wonka.
There will also be a drive-up offering chocolate bars, boxes of confections, coffee and bakery items, to which Thompson laughs and calls "a dangerous idea, indeed!"
In the meantime, Thompson is excited that soon Sjölinds will offer chocolate made from cacao beans direct from Haiti. What does it taste like? Thompson leaves me with these final words, "like smooth, chocolate cake."
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