Some of Li-Lac’s creations use more than one type of chocolate, creating even greater possibilities. Imagine a chessboard, fully populated with chess pieces, made out of dark and white chocolate. Or a chocolate champagne bucket, filled with white chocolate ice cubes and an oversized chocolate champagne bottle. The possibilities are seemingly endless and Li-Lac is literally a place where all your chocolate dreams come true.
Chocolate is a seasonal business and Taylor estimated that while the company might sell just 20 boxes of chocolate in the summer (shipped in special insulated boxes packed with ice bricks), the winter holiday season may see as many as 500 boxes shipped out daily.
The new Li-Lac factory boasts a $100,000 air conditioning system, a necessity when dealing with a product that is extremely temperature sensitive. With its high cocoa butter content, Li-Lac’s products are much more delicate than typical chocolate, but according to Taylor, the superior taste more than makes up for the chocolate’s susceptibility to melting, blooming and other potential hazards.
“Cocoa butter melts at skin temperature,” observed Taylor. “Contrary to popular slogans, good chocolate should melt in your hands, not in your mouth.”
Despite having to wear a less than flattering hair net on the factory floor, my visit was really the stuff that dreams are made of. I got to watch butter crunch being made, a process that involved two men pouring a vat full of boiling sugar onto a large marble table, spreading it quickly with spatulas and cutting it with metal rollers before it hardened. It was fascinating to see how the confection, liquid just moments earlier, became so brittle that it shattered when a few small pieces accidentally fell on the floor. I am proud to say that I kept to my diet and declined the square of butter crunch offered to me.
Watching chocolate squares go through an enrobing machine was another wonderful experience, as the flavored centers were first coated underneath with chocolate, then shaken to remove the excess before passing through a chocolate fountain on their way to being hand decorated and hardened in a cooling tunnel. Once again, I felt victorious, as I was able to resist the lure of the rum squares.
But lest you think I am totally insane, I will confess – I completely and wholeheartedly blew my diet. The tiny hazelnut truffle squares were delicious. Wonderfully flavored, they just melted in my mouth, dissolving into pools of chocolate euphoria. The specialty truffles were equally sinful and, despite their diminutive size, I can’t imagine they aren’t loaded with calories. But there are moments in life when calories don’t matter and when you are standing in a chocolate factory being offered free samples, you would have to be crazy not to throw caution (and your diet) to the wind and not indulge a little. Thankfully, there were no chocolate-covered Oreos out for tasting, or chances are good I would have nibbled my way into the next size clothing, definitely not a good idea.
As I write this, I am sitting just four feet away from the small bag of samples that Li-Lac gave out to us lucky media people who came to tour the factory. I’m trying so hard not to remember that there are little pieces of Li-Lac’s fudge in that bag which seem to be calling my name. Tiny squares of butter crunch that no doubt taste fabulous. A small box of French chocolates whose contents I can’t identify without biting into them. Are they Napoleon bars? Molasses crunch? Peanut butter puffs? Salted caramels?
I take the chocolate out of the box and the smell is intoxicating. I breathe it in and close my eyes and hope that I have the willpower to put it all back in the bag and save it for another day.