Shopping local means a lot to me. It seems to add to a product’s worth when I know who made it, and I like having things with stories behind them. When it comes to holidays, I love giving locally made gifts in lieu of grocery or department store defaults.
Last winter, I was given a gorgeous chocolate sphere from Steven Howard Chocolate hand-painted in shimmery shades of pinks, greens, blues, and yellows beneath a marbled top layer of chocolate drizzle. Careful not to ruin the work of art, I cracked the edible case open to find the most delicious truffles I have ever tasted (and I’ve tasted more truffles in my life than I care to admit).
When I found out they made Easter eggs with the same truffles inside, I ordered several for the upcoming holiday. I ordered even more of the peanut-butter eggs, which are also painted—by Steven Howard himself. The one-and-a-half year old company is comprised of Howard and his partner, Joe Skifter. The couple lives in Minneapolis and says the purpose of SHC is to unite fine confections with fine art.
For thirty years, Howard worked in restaurants and bakeries all across the country. He even owned his own chocolate shop in Oklahoma, but he says his current business venture is his true calling.
The two owners had known each other less than a year before launching Steven Howard Chocolate. Skifter manages the business and marketing aspects of the company, calling him Howard’s “sidekick.” But his capabilities aren’t limited to desk work.
“When we need, he comes to the kitchen, sits on a stool, and [applies] the gold leaf on the champagne truffles—“ begins Howard, “—or adds the espresso powder,” they finish in unison.
They are progressing carefully, exploring potential partnerships in the Twin Cities. Howard hopes to be “a chocolate presence in a coffee shop where it’s not just in boxes, it’s actually a case.” To be fair, a pedestal might be more appropriate—he once created a circus diorama made entirely of chocolate, complete with little hammers to smash it into edible chunks.
They hope to soon start making their handcrafted Polar Bear Truffle: white chocolate center with fresh vanilla bean and loads of peppermint, coated in dark chocolate and then rolled in white chocolate shavings. They have also mentioned the exciting possibility of using a 3D printer to make new confections. For now, truffle flavors include the Classic, Espresso (my favorite), Champagne, and Grand Marnier.
One small Easter Egg (pictured) holds three assorted truffles along with one peanut-butter-and-roasted-cacao-nib egg for $24; the large egg has 13 truffles and two of the peanut-butter eggs for $80. To order one for an especially decadent Easter basket, email StevenHowardChocolate@yahoo.com. The rich little hand-painted peanut-butter eggs are also on their own for $2.50 each, upping the Easter Bunny’s game for little ones and adults alike.
Many goodies are also available in the café at Minneapolis’ Open Book.
The eggs I gave away last year were a huge hit, the perfect combination of aesthetics and flavor. This is my new Easter tradition—as Howard says, “If you’d had it before, I think getting a box of truffles is like being able to visit with an old friend.”