Thank you, Linda, for talking with us today.
Thanks for having me back on your blog, TammyJo.
It has been three years since our last interview with you and our feature article on your truffles. I've been to your section in the Olive Leaf shop near us and I see on your website that you have expanded even more. How are you finding the chocolate business after these years?
The chocolate business is going well! Since I last talked to you, we now have our own retail front with a full service chocolate counter instead of just selling wholesale through other retailers. We also have 2 locations! Our first retail location is inside The Olive Leaf at 879 S College Mall Road, Bloomington, IN. Our newest location is in Plainfield, IN and is in The Shops at Perry Crossing. There also, we are inside The Olive Leaf, which is located on the interior street of Perry Crossing, in between Dick's Sporting Goods and Lane Bryant. We are also selling our truffles via our website.
When we installed the chocolate counters., we were taken by surprise at just how popular it was! Our customers absolutely love being able to come in and pick any flavor they want and make their own custom boxes. We have around 30 - 35 flavors in the truffle counter at any given time, so sometimes choosing can be difficult! We also now have quite a few seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the year. Right now, for Valentine's Day, we have our Cherry Cheesecake Truffles in both white and dark chocolate, our Passion Fruit Truffle, our Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookie Truffle, and our Cherry Wine Truffle, made with Winzerwald Winery's Cherry Wine.
Actually, this year, we started offering some solid chocolates. We introduced them in October - we molded our favorite chocolates into the shape of leaves and dusted them to match October's brilliant colors! We offered a box with 4 different levels of chocolate - our favorite dark chocolate, Noir; our favorite semi-sweet chocolate, Burgundy; our favorite milk chocolate, Belmont; and our favorite white chocolate, Platinum.
The idea to offer solid chocolates came from our Chocolate 101 class, where I offer participants not only an education about chocolate and how it's made, but a complete tasting of different chocolates that we use in the truffles and why we like them. So many times, people would ask me where they could get those chocolates, but they are only available to me commercially - not to the general public. So I decided to get our favorites out so other people could enjoy them, too.
We have a lot going on this year for the "Week of Chocolate"! First of all, we will be handing out tastes of our truffles at "The Art of Chocolate" event on Feb. 10. Then we are also participating in "Wonderlab After Dark" on February 18, where we will be demonstrating unique flavor combinations and explaining how we come up with new flavors for our truffles. Also, we are sponsoring the Chocolate Passport. LIFEDesigns has at least 10 events going on that week, and anyone who attends 3 events and gets their passport stamped can bring it into The Olive Leaf store and choose their own 4 piece box of truffles, free of charge! LIFEDesigns does so much for our community and this is a great way to support them.
Good question! Ha! We've been doing "The Art of Chocolate" so long that I am not even sure how we got involved. I think originally, we got a phone call from LIFEDesigns asking us to come and participate because someone else had backed out and Oliver Winery had recommended us to fill the spot. We were happy to jump in and had such a good time that we've been doing it every year since then.
I've also seen Peacetree many times on the "Buy It Now" site through the local newspaper in Bloomington. I notice that food items are not very common on the auction list. How did you decide to get involved with that?
We got involved with Buy It Now through our advertising rep at the HT. It's a great program where anyone can go to the Buy It Now website and buy gift certificates at a discounted rate. But we, the seller, get full price credit for our newspaper advertising. We regularly have great feedback from our newspaper advertising, and that credit helps pay the bill, so it's a win-win for us and our customers!
Our most recent venture is our 12 Truffles of Christmas offering. We put together a box of 12 truffles - each flavor tied to a day of the popular Christmas song. So, the First Day of Christmas is a Partridge in a Pear Tree - and our truffle for that day is our Milk Chocolate Pear Truffle. The Second Day of Christmas is Two Turtle Doves - and our truffle for that day is our Turtle Truffle. And so on. It's a fun holiday collection with a wide variety of flavors and has literally flown off the shelves. It's been very well received and our customers love it.
I know you like chocolate and you are a skilled truffle maker, but do you have one or two favorite chocolate creations that you enjoy that you don't make yourself?
Absolutely! And I'm always on the lookout for the best of what's out there! (It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!) One of my current decadent treats is a Sugared Pecan Turtle from JEvelyn Confections in Greefield. Jayne takes her pecans and sugars them, just like we all do at the holidays! Then she puts those into her giant turtle, with her own housemade caramel. It's absolutely delicious and those sugared pecans just add that little unexpected layer of flavor - I just love them. In fact, I love them so much, that we've brought them into our own shop to sell to everyone here in Bloomington. They've gone over extremely well - everyone loves them as much as I do.
We've also added Abbott's Caramels to our store. I'm pretty picky about my caramels and I just couldn't find any I liked better than Abbott's.
Both JEvelyn and Abbott's are Indiana Artisans and Peacetree is as well. Indiana Artisan is a program that identifies and recognizes Indiana's highest-quality art and food artisans and members have to jury in with their products, meaning we are one of Indiana's Best.
Making truffles keeps me extremely busy and I just couldn't see making other products when really great ones are available from some of my fellow Indiana Artisans. These products, too, have been very popular in the store and our customers appreciate the variety of confections available to them.
Thank you, Linda, for talking with us again today.
Thanks so much for having me today!
So many ways that Peacetree Mountain Truffles is helping charity through this "Week of Chocolate." Which ones are you going to participate in, Readers?