Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Kirsch.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My passion for making chocolates began with an Eiffel tower mold I bought in Paris. Although I filled it with high-quality melted chocolate, the broken pieces I struggled to whack out of the mold tasted grainy and barely edible. Big disappointment!! That prompted me to take a class at Chocolee in Boston, where I spent three wonderful hours making truffles and molded chocolates.
After a year experimenting on my own, I spent several months as an intern at EH Chocolatier in Somerville to further develop my chocolate-making skills. Next, I earned a Professional Chocolatier certificate, with honors, through Ecole Chocolat. In April 2016, I trained in France as a Master Chocolatier at the Valrhona École du Grand Chocolat.
Many chocolatiers start out as pastry chefs; I decided to focus on chocolate after spending much of my professional life producing children’s media, winning three Emmy Awards for my work on the PBS literacy series Between the Lions. Making television and making chocolates have more in common than you might think. Both require imagination, inspiration, creativity, a commitment to excellence, and a desire to share your creations with an appreciative audience.
My years as an enthusiastic home baker also helped prepare me for life as a chocolatier. I once hosted a chocolate dessert party that included 25 different homemade chocolate treats, having no idea at the time where my obsession with chocolate would lead.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As my love of chocolate-making grew and my skills improved, I wanted to make more chocolates than I could possibly eat. It didn’t make sense to just keep giving them away to family and friends—not that anyone was complaining. So I decided to establish Beth’s Chocolate to share my irresistible confections with a larger audience.
The most important step was getting my home kitchen certified for chocolate production by both the city of Newton and the state, enabling me to sell directly to customers and through retail stores. I also sought to teach chocolate-making classes, which I didn’t realize would require me to apply for a variance through Newton’s Land Use committee so that more than three cars could park in front of my house. This process turned out to be way more complicated and time-consuming that I ever would have imagined.
And then there were the usual investments of time and money to register my LLC; get insurance; design a logo, labels, and business cards; create a website with photos of my chocolates; identify suppliers; buy equipment; set up a presence on Facebook and Instagram; and, perhaps hardest of all, find packaging that would work with the different shapes and sizes of the chocolates I planned to make.
All this, of course, would be completely pointless without customers—building awareness about my chocolates and chocolate-making classes is a huge, ongoing effort. The good news is that once people have tried my chocolates, they come back for more.
Beth’s Chocolate – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I enjoy making chocolates that look beautiful, taste extraordinary, and offer a moment of pure bliss when you experience them. I make all my chocolates in small batches, with high-quality Valrhona chocolate and fresh ingredients. My unique creations are designed to celebrate the exquisite pleasure of fine chocolate.
I love dreaming up new flavors as well as re-inventing classic flavors like coffee, mint, and raspberry. I rarely add sugar unless it’s essential (in caramels, for example), so that the complex flavors of the chocolate and the pure goodness of each ingredient always shine through.
My Peruvian Gold bonbons are one of my most popular offerings. Made with a rare, single-origin chocolate from the tropical forests of northern Peru, they are especially creamy and deliver a deeply satisfying, rich chocolate taste. As an added benefit, Valrhona donates a share of its earnings from this chocolate to benefit the health of local villagers through a clean water initiative.
Ultra Thin Crunch—paper-thin, hand-cut squares of 70% dark chocolate sprinkled with cocoa nibs for a burst of flavor and crunch—are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot coffee or tea. After tasting something similar at a little chocolate shop in Paris, I was determined to figure out how to make these, which was trickier than I expected but worth the challenge.
Salted caramels are a perennial favorite, but I make a wide variety of flavors because some people just can’t get enough of my Cappuccino chocolates, or the Cognac, or the Maple Liqueur, or Pomegranate, or Ginger 3 Ways, or Malted Milk, or Passion Fruit, or…you get the idea. And at Volante Farms, in Needham, I am always replenishing the bags of bark: Cashew Cranberry, Almonds & Seeds, and Rice Crispies.
Since I don’t have a chocolate shop, I make most of my chocolates to order. For my customers, it’s like having their own personal chocolatier. They know that the chocolates they order are freshly made by me, by hand, for them.
The chocolate-making classes I offer (September through May) give me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for chocolate with other chocolate fans. Everyone arrives happy and excited about chocolate and they leave even happier, having learned how they can make amazing chocolates in their home kitchens without specialized equipment. They also gain a better understanding of how chocolate is made, the wide variety in quality, and what distinguishes fine chocolate from the rest.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My favorite part of this whole chocolate-making enterprise is seeing the sheer pleasure on people’s faces when they taste my chocolates. This business grew out of my love for chocolate, and sometimes I can’t quite believe that I’ve managed to create all these chocolate confections that other people love as much as I do. Producing television for children is exciting, demanding, and a huge amount of fun. Making chocolate is all that, and then some.
- Peruvian Gold: $10/box of 5
- Ultra Thin Crunch: $6/box of 12
- Boxes of Chocolates: $8 to $25
- Chocolate Bark: $8/bag
- Chocolate-Making Classes: $75/adults; $50 children 10-18
- Address: 27 Waldorf Road
Newton, MA 02461
(by appointment only)
- Website: bethschocolate.com
- Phone: 617-803-3678
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal Photo: Lisa Abitbol
Almond & Seeds Bark: Sonya Highfield
Ultra Thin Crunch: Sonya Highfield
Pistachio & Rose Petal Squares: Katie Noble
Ginger 3 Ways: Beth Kirsch
Pure Dark: Beth Kirsch
Peruvian Gold: Beth Kirsch
Pomegranate: Beth Kirsch