Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 49
Happy Holidays!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



SWEET SEDUCTION: “Chocolate is a wonderful gift for almost anyone. Visually and gastronomically, it is a food that is an indulgence, but a good indulgence! It’s a healthy way to be good to yourself. We have wonderful gift baskets, boxes, and trays for the holidays.” Chocolatier Joanne Reilly, owner of the new Chocolate Lovers Club in Princeton Forrestal Village, holds one of the popular gift baskets.

Chocolate Lovers Club in Forrestal Village Offers Chocolate Parties and Holiday Treats

“My work is making people happy. I can offer someone with something that is really good-tasting and healthier for them, and very satisfying.”

Joanne Reilly, owner of the Chocolate Lovers Club in Princeton Forrestal Village, is pleased to provide customers with premium, all-natural chocolate that pleases the senses in every way. Chocolate lovers will be delighted with this new opportunity to tempt the taste buds and pamper the palate.

Opened in November, the Chocolate Lovers Club offers homemade, fine chocolate as well as chocolate parties and events.

“This is pure, all-natural chocolate,” explains Ms. Reilly. “It is very fresh, and has no emulsifier. In its pure form, the natural fat in chocolate is good fat. Commercial chocolate uses oil or soy products. We make our chocolate right here in small batches, so it is very fresh.”

A Chocolatier

Ms. Reilly, who has a corporate background, formerly owned a chocolate shop in Hightstown. Her discovery of fine chocolate was a revelation not only to her taste buds, but to her business sense. “I’m a foodie. I like gourmet food, and I have always been a gourmet cook. The more I thought about it, the more I believed I could do this. I had that instinct. I bought a chocolate machine, and I learned the art of tempering the chocolate and taking it through the gradual temperature changes. Chocolate melts at a very low temperature, so it doesn’t use a lot of energy. I am happy to say I became a chocolatier!”

When the Forrestal space became available, it suited her needs perfectly. “The facility was here, and it had been a cafe. There is party space, which is just what we need. Parties were very popular in Hightstown, and we have already had five since we have been here. All kinds — kids’ birthdays, showers, anniversaries, etc., and all with a chocolate theme. We have room for 40 people.”

With the growing popularity of dark chocolate, which is considered healthier than milk chocolate, the focus on premium chocolate has grown. “When I first got into the business, it was 65 percent to 35 percent, with milk chocolate preferred to dark,” reports Ms. Reilly. “Now, it is the reverse. People are more interested in dark chocolate and its health benefits — the good oils and antioxidants it contains. In fact, some doctors advise their patients to eat a piece of dark chocolate every day.”

In addition, she points out that chocolate is a natural mood enhancer, especially for women. It’s not a bad way to feel good!

Party Room

The Chocolate Lovers Club is basically divided into two areas: the chocolate parties and the retail business. The party room has tables and chairs for guests, and the retail side of the shop is filled with chocolate displays of all kinds — boxes, baskets, trays, and single patties and pieces.

There are also two basic aspects to Ms. Reilly’s chocolate, she explains. “We offer a lot of chocolate-dipped choices, such as pretzels, potato chips, Oreo cookies, marshmallows, even Twizzlers, as well as a line of chocolate-dipped fruit, including pineapple, mango, and apricot. There are chocolate-dipped favorites for all ages. Really, everything tastes better dipped in chocolate!

“Fat, sweet, and salt are three things we crave nutritionally,” she continues. “With our chocolate-dipped pretzels and potato chips, you get all three together. Also, chocolate-dipped fruit is a great gift with a bottle of wine.”

In addition to the dipped products, Ms. Reilly makes a selection of fine chocolate pieces and bark, which are popular for gift boxes. Delicious, handmade truffles are offered in two flavors: dark espresso and coffee and cream (white chocolate center, dark chocolate outside).

The very popular bark includes dark chocolate with sour cherry and almonds, dark chocolate with cranberries, and white chocolate with pistachios and lemon, as well as many other flavor combinations. There is also white chocolate peppermint for the holidays. These choices are offered in single patties as well.

Gift baskets, boxes, and trays with a sampling of all of these are a very welcome holiday remembrance. For the kids, the popular novelty chocolate candy canes, Santas, reindeer (including Rudolph), chocolate gingerbread men, Christmas trees, and chocolate pops are available.

Italian-Style

Ms. Reilly also offers the premium products of other fine chocolatiers. “In December, we will feature the Italian-style chocolate from Donna Toscana. We want to share the best chocolate with our customers.

“Also, after the holidays, we plan to have a series of events, including wine and chocolate tastings, a truffle-making night in which guests will participate, and a featured speaker, such as famous New York chocolatier Jacques Torres.

“People can join the Chocolate Lovers Club by e-mailing, and it is free,” continues Ms. Reilly. “There will be coupons, discount offers, and invitations to special events. We also plan to offer coffee, tea, and European hot chocolate to customers.”

During the holidays, the Chocolate Lovers Club is partnering with the Joe Canal liquor store in the Mercer Mall, she adds. “We will have a Chocolate for Wine Lovers tasting kit at Joe Canal, with three different kinds of chocolate and information on what wine is good with what chocolate. The right wine with the right chocolate is a great gift.”

Chocolate is an “affordable luxury”, she notes, and sample boxes are offered at $20 and holiday trays at $35. Large single patties are $1.95. There are always special sales as well.

“We also ship, and one of the best parts of the job is sending love through the mail. That never gets old! I enjoy everything about this work. It’s fun and so satisfying to create a gift that someone will love. The biggest thrill is watching someone taste the quality of our chocolate and see the look that comes over their face: ‘Wow, this is really good!’ This business is about giving people a wonderful chocolate experience.”

The Chocolate Lovers Club is open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with parties available any time, day or evening. (609) 851-0660. Website: facebook/chocolateloversprinceton. E-mail: chocolatelovers princeton@gmail.com.

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