Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peacetree Mountain Truffles Foundations

Sisters and Brothers, today I'd like to introduce you all to Linda Armes, the woman behind Peacetree Mountain Truffles, a company right here in the town I live in.  I hope you'll find, as I did, that her story is a testament to the possibility for the small chocolate maker to make it in today's market but also the struggles that such companies can face.



Linda, would you tell us how you got into the truffle making and selling business?

A few years ago, I won an Emeril Live! Cooking With Your Kids Contest and was featured on Food Network. Ever since then, all my family and friends have encouraged me to start a food business. So, I started searching for something that would fit well with my passion and my family schedule. When I started making truffles as a treat for the holidays, everyone agreed - I had found what I was looking for. I started experimenting and really loved the results, and that's when I started the company.

Would you tell us a bit about how you met your two partners in the business?

Gretchen, Lisa and I have been friends for years. We have all homeschooled our kids together, co-oping for weekly science and history classes. When I decided to open Peacetree Mountain Truffles, they were so excited that they both volunteered to be my partners and help me get it going. It's been a great decision and I couldn't ask for any better partners. We make a great team.

There's a story behind your company name, could you expand upon it?

Peacetree is actually a tribute to our faith. We believe that real peace can only be found in Calvary's tree, and we strive to run our business the way people of faith should - with integrity and commitment to excellence. Mountain is a tribute to our love of the beautiful rolling hills here in Southern Indiana. Our office is on one of those hills, and we have always called it our Indiana mountain. 

You do a lot of work with other Indiana companies.  How did you begin connecting with other local and state businesses?

Mostly, it starts with an idea popping into my head - like Oliver wines. I decided I wanted to make a wine truffle. So I went over to Oliver and did a wine tasting, then chose some wines to experiment with. When I got the taste the way I wanted, I just took a box over there and left them for the manager. Honestly, it hasn't been hard - once people taste what I do, they are won over! Most of our connections have been that way - just a cold call where I leave the product. It pretty much sells itself. 

Making truffles can be challenging for many people who try to create them at home.  How did you learn to make them?

First, I went online and ordered a book; Chocolates and Confections. I devoured it, then gathered a lot of ingredients and turned my kitchen into a laboratory. I made so many chocolate truffles! My husband even coined a new term - whenever the kids asked where I was, he would say I was in the kitchen - truffling! Truffles really aren't that hard to make - they just take so many steps and so much patience while they temper - that's what scares people away from making them at home. That's good for me, I guess!

There are so many choices in terms of couverture for chocolate, how do you choose the couverture and other chocolate ingredients you use?

We like to focus on the flavors of our fillings, making them unique and full of flavor - the ganaches are the real star of our truffles. So, we actually do a whole lot of tasting before we settle on a chocolate to use. Each flavor that we are going to highlight in a truffle requires a chocolate that will complement but not overpower it. Many times, we make 5 or 6 test batches, each with a different chocolate, and then decide which one allows the flavor to shine the most. Every time I go to a chocolate convention, I taste and collect as many different samples as I can, so that I have a large variety to test with. I believe this gives our truffles a depth that other companies don't have - we aren't stuck with one chocolate company's flavor profile. We actually dip into quite a few different company's chocolates. I have to admit, though, that I am somewhat partial to Ghirardelli chocolate products. I do use them as my coatings - they have a divine flavor that lingers in your mouth as you finish the truffle. And I like that.


Each of your truffles has a unique look.  Why take the extra time to make them all so lovely and unique?

People who buy chocolates, do so for their sheer pleasure - so we want to make sure that our customers get the most enjoyment out of them that they possibly can - from the first minute they lay their eyes on them, to the last lingering flavor in their mouth. We try to make the outside of the truffle be a true reflection of what you will find inside - and that's delicious flavors unlike anything you have tasted before. It doesn't hurt that all 3 of us are OCD perfectionists that just really enjoy making them beautiful! 

Finally I know that you are having a fundraiser to expand your business.  Would you tell our readers what they can do to help you continue to create such lovely truffles?

We would be delighted for everyone to visit our Indiegogo page and check out the great truffles we are offering as a reward for contributing to our kitchen campaign. 

You can see our page here: (Note from The Chocolate Priestess: This is really worth your investment in, Sisters and Brothers.  Their creations are great now but imagine what they could craft given a dedicated kitchen.)

We are sharing a commercial kitchen right now, and we are actually having trouble keeping up with demand. We desperately need our own kitchen, where we can settle in and keep production going. We are offering people a chance to partner with us in the campaign, and as a thank you, we are offering our brand new wine truffle collection featuring only wines made from grapes grown here in Southern Indiana. Southern Indiana was recently recognized for growing fabulous wine grapes - that what makes our wines so special. And that's part of what makes our truffles so special. This new collection is going to be fabulous! Check out our page and please consider supporting us. Thanks. 

Thank you so much, Linda for speaking with us today. On Saturday, Sisters and Brothers, we'll share our testing of the Peacetree Wine Truffles with all of you.  Make sure you come back to check out our Saturday Sacrament.

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