I’m always fascinated reading about people who transitioned to dessert-related occupations as second careers. I also like hearing about successful entrepreneurs whose social consciousness impacts their businesses.
And when I signed up for a truffle-making workshop at Roni-Sue Chocolates, I was almost as interested to hear Roni-Sue’s story as I was to learn how to make truffles. (Roni-Sue Chocolates is known for its truffles, buttercrunch toffee, and “Pig Candy” (chocolate-covered bacon).
While Rhonda, a/k/a Roni-Sue, had been making chocolates, she was a passionate hobbyist, and not a professional chocolatier. Although she describes herself as a “serial careerist” she spent several years working to help the victims of domestic abuse. And when she decided to open up her chocolate store, she chose the Essex Market, a diverse, community-oriented market located in NYC’s Lower East Side. Her second location, a free-standing store, is a few blocks away.
Her social consciousness led her to become a partner in a Belize-based bean-to-bar chocolate operation, MOHO Chocolate. The cacao beans are grown by local farmers in Belize. And all of the fermentation, roasting, and other processing is handled in a central processing facility in Belize, helping farmers maximize their crop while also keeping money and jobs in this Central American country.
As Roni-Sue notes, MOHO Chocolate utilizes an interesting business strategy. The chocolate bars are sold in a MOHO store located in the tourist area of Belize. Who are the customers? For the most part, passengers on cruise ships that dock there—not repeat customers. These bars are sold in this country only when one of the MOHO partners comes back from a trip to Belize—and they’re sold in one of Roni-Sue’s locations—until they run out.
But let’s get back to truffles.
Roni-Sue uses MOHO Chocolate for the interior of her truffles and for her hot chocolate. (She obtains the chocolate in 4 pound blocks.). For the outside coating of her truffles she prefers Callebaut or Valrhona chocolate since they’re a bit smoother.
What kind of truffles does Roni-Sue offer? A huge variety. How about my personal favorite—the Harvey Wallbanger truffle made with Valrhona white chocolate, vodka, Galliano, and orange-infused white chocolate ganache? Or a “Frida” truffle with dark chocolate, espresso, Kahlua, and Dulce de Leche? Or a Beer & Pretzel Caramel truffle? The list goes on. And seasonal specials – such as Rose truffles for Valentine’s Day, round out the offerings.
I’ve been dreaming of truffles!