Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bacon Caramels

Bacon Caramels photo(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Despite what their name might suggest, Bacon Caramels actually have a subtle bacon taste, since the recipe does not call for any actual bacon in it. Rather, they are made with bacon fat instead of butter, so they have a slight undertone of a smoky, savory flavor. Of course, you can always top them with some crumbled bacon to boost the pork factor!

Since this recipe calls for bacon fat, it's a great way to use up some of the excess fat that can be left from other bacon recipes, like Chocolate-Covered Bacon or Bacon Caramel Corn.


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Flaked sea salt or crumbled bacon, as toppings (optional)
  • Candy thermometer


1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the salt, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, and water. Make sure your pan leaves enough room for the mixture to approximately quadruple in size. Place the pan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

3. Once the sugar dissolves, insert the candy thermometer and cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 330 degrees F (165 C) on the candy thermometer. It should be a medium-amber color and fragrant when it is ready.

4. While you wait for the caramel to cook, combine the heavy cream and the bacon fat in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat until it just reaches a simmer. Once simmering, take it off the heat and set it aside for now.

5. When the sugar has caramelized and reached 330 on the thermometer, begin whisking it and slowly drizzle in the hot cream mixture. It will steam and splutter quite a bit, so be careful to avoid burns. Once all of the cream is incorporated, continue to cook the caramel, stirring frequently, until it reaches 255 degrees F (123 C) on the thermometer.

6. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit for a few minutes, then while it is still warm, sprinkle the top with flaked sea salt or crumbled bacon (or a combination of both), if you desire.

7. Let the caramel cool completely at room temperature, for at least 4 hours or overnight.

8. Once set, remove the caramel from the pan using the foil as handles. Peel the foil off the back. Use a large sharp knife to cut it into small squares. For easiest storage, wrap each individual caramel in waxed paper or parchment paper.

9. Store individually wrapped Bacon Caramels in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for up to two weeks.

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Hazelnut Toffee

If you ask me, toffee is best when it's cooked extra dark, so that the toasted nuts and caramelized sugar flavors are really intense. I can't really get behind pale, sticky toffees that are barely colored and cooked. So when I make this Hazelnut Toffee, I cook it to 300 degrees F so that it's near the edge of burnt--but not over!--and has a deliciously dark, smoky, rich taste. To balance these deep notes out, I usually drizzle it with milk chocolate, or if I'm feeling really indulgent, dunk whole squares in milk chocolate to add a little sweetness. If you don't share my desire to live on the edge, you can cook it much less and still have a deliciously buttery, crunchy toffee.

Get the recipe: Hazelnut Toffee

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Hazelnut Toffee Photo c2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Sesame Toffee

Open up for Sesame Toffee! A thin layer of smooth, buttery toffee has a layer of toasted sesame seeds pressed into one side. The other side is covered with smooth dark chocolate and sprinkled with more sesame seeds. The flavor combination of caramelized sugar, chocolate, and sesame is unusual but interesting, and I love how the traditional toffee texture is enlivened by the coating of seeds.

Get the recipe: Sesame Toffee

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Sesame Toffee Photo c2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Bacon Caramel Popcorn photo(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Bacon adds a whole new layer of flavor to traditional caramel corn in this recipe for Bacon Caramel Popcorn! Chunks of crispy, salty bacon are mixed with caramel corn and toasted pecans, and then everything is baked together until you have sweet, crunchy clusters. If you want to go really crazy, you can drizzle the whole thing with chocolate when you're finished.


  • 6 slices bacon
  • 5 cups popped popcorn (preferably plain)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans
  • Candy thermometer


1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F (121 C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy, then drain off the fat and let it cool. Once cool, coarsely chop the bacon into half-inch pieces.

3. Place the bacon, popcorn, and chopped pecans into a large bowl and toss them together.

4. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup and stir them together over medium heat. Once the sugar and butter have melted, stop stirring and insert a candy thermometer.

5. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 238 degrees F (114 C) on the candy thermometer, which should only take 3-4 minutes.

6. Once at the proper temperature, remove the pan from the heat, add the baking soda, and stir vigorously. The sugar mixture will foam up, so be careful during this step.

7. Pour the foamy sugar over the popcorn mixture in the bowl and quickly stir everything together, making sure the popcorn, nuts, and bacon are coated with caramel.

8. Spread the popcorn out over the prepared baking sheet. Bake it for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to distribute the caramel.

9. Once it is golden brown and crunchy, take the popcorn out of the oven and allow it to cool completely. Store Bacon Caramel Popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note: If you are looking for something to do with the excess bacon fat left over after step 2, try this recipe for bacon caramels!

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Witch Truffles

Witch Truffles picture(c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

This recipe for Witch Truffles produces adorable dark chocolate truffles decorated to look like little witch heads! These Halloween candies are creepy, spooky, and perfect for Halloween parties.


  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40 Tic-Tac mints
  • 20 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
  • 40 chocolate kisses
  • 1 lb green candy coating (or white coating + green coloring)
  • 4 oz chocolate coating


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.

2. Place the cream in a small saucepan and scald it until bubbles being to appear around the sides of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow it to soften and melt the chocolate for one minute.

3. Using a whisk, gently stir to incorporate the cream and chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until well-combined, but do not stir too vigorously or you will incorporate air bubbles.

4. Cover the truffle mixture with cling wrap and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until it is firm enough to spoon, about 2 hours.

5. While you're waiting for the ganache to firm up, twist the sandwich cookies apart and scrape off the filling, so you're left with 40 thin chocolate cookie discs. Unwrap the kisses and set aside.

6. Using a teaspoon or cookie dough scoop, form small 1-inch balls from the ganache and roll them between your palms to make them round. Dust your palms with cocoa powder if they start to get sticky. Depending on the size of your truffles, you should get 30-40 in a batch. Place the truffles on the baking sheet, and once all of them are rolled, press a Tic-Tac firmly in the middle of each truffle so that it protrudes. This will be the witch noses. Return the truffles to the refrigerator to chill for another hour.

7. Once the truffles are firm, melt the green candy coating, or use white coating and add some green candy coloring to tint it green. Dip the truffles in the coating and replace them on the baking sheet.

8. Once all the truffles are dipped, melt the chocolate candy coating and place it in a Ziploc bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe two small eyes above the nose on each witch face. Quickly move the bag back and forth over the top of the truffles, drizzling thin strands of chocolate over the sides to look like witches' hair.

9. While the chocolate hair is still wet, press a cookie on top of each truffle. Dot the bottom of the kisses with a little more chocolate coating, and press a kiss firmly in the middle of each cookie to complete the witches' hats.

10. Refrigerate the truffles to set the coating, for about 15 minutes. Witch Truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For best taste and texture bring them to room temperature before serving.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

White Chocolate Caramel Apples

White Chocolate Caramel Apple(c) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

White Chocolate Coconut Caramel Apples feature the classic combination of white chocolate, macadamia nuts, and toasted coconut on top of traditional caramel apples. The sweet richness of the caramel and white chocolate is balanced by the crisp apples, salty nuts, and toasted coconut.


  • 4 ripe apples
  • 4 wooden skewers
  • 14 ounces (1 bag) soft caramel candy
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup roasted salted macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup toasted coconut


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts. Combine them with the toasted coconut in a bowl and set aside for now.

2. Wash and dry the apples carefully. Remove the stems, and stick the skewers firmly in the stem ends.

3. Place the unwrapped caramels and the water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave for an additional minute or until completely melted. The caramel should be smooth and liquid by the end.

4. Hold an apple by the skewer and dip it in the caramel, tilting the bowl at an angle and rotating the apple to cover it completely with a smooth, even layer. Bring it out of the caramel and twirl it upside down to remove excess, then set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining apples.

5. Place the caramel-covered apples in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.

6. Place the white chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 45 seconds to prevent overheating.

7. Dip a caramel-covered apple in the white chocolate. If necessary, use a spoon to pour the white chocolate over the top to ensure the apple is completely covered. While the chocolate is still wet, press a handful of macadamia nuts and coconut over the entire surface of the apple.

8. Place the apple back on the foil-covered baking sheet and repeat with remaining caramel apples, white chocolate and toppings.

9. Refrigerate the apples until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. If you will not be serving the apples immediately, tightly wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Candied Bacon

Up until recently, my only experience candying things involved sweets. Candied citrus peel? Yes. Candied pineapple? Sure. Candied nuts? Absolutely! But candied pork products? Now we're venturing into weird and dangerous territory.

My skepticism was misplaced, however, because Candied Bacon is both really delicious and really easy. There are no finicky sugar syrups or prolonged soaking periods. All you do us press a sugar-spice mixture onto your bacon, and bake it until it's crisp. The resulting candied bacon is both chewy and crunchy, sweet and salty, and completely addicting. My husband compared it to maple sugar-drizzled bacon, and I have to agree. So if you're a fan of the breakfast combination, this is the candy for you.

These little sin sticks are delicious plain, but you can also dip them in chocolate, crumble them up to use on salads, or use them to top really wicked cakes or cupcakes. Or doughnuts. Or cookies! Somebody stop me!

Get the recipe: Candied Bacon

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Candied Bacon Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Marzipan Fingers

Marzipan fingers are the ultimate ghoulish Halloween candy! Delicious almond marzipan is fashioned into frighteningly lifelike severed fingers. Eat them if you dare! This recipe makes 8 fingers, but you can always modify the recipe and vary the size of the fingers to suit your needs.

You can make your own marzipan, or purchase it from most large grocery stores. Marzipan most commonly comes in 7-ounce tubes (the quantity called for here) but you can use more or less depending on what you have available.

Prep Time: 20?minutes

Total Time: 20?minutes


  • 7 ounces marzipan, homemade or purchased
  • 8 whole almonds
  • Red food coloring
  • Small food-safe paintbrush


1. Pour a small amount of red food coloring on a small plate, and use a small paintbrush to paint the almonds with the food coloring. (Alternately, you can use blanched almonds and skip this step for natural-colored nails.) Set painted almonds aside to dry while you form the fingers.

2. Coat your hands with powdered sugar, or wear plastic gloves. Knead the marzipan until it has softened slightly. Divide the marzipan into 8 equal pieces.

3. Working with one piece at a time, roll the marzipan between your palms so that it forms a thin tube. Work the tube until it resembles a finger: pinch small sections closer together, leaving other sections wider, to resemble finger knuckles. Use a toothpick to create ridges on the knuckles.

4. Taper one end of the finger, and press an almond firmly into the end for the fingernail. Using your nails, fray the other end of the finger so that it looks severed. Dip the severed end of the finger in the food coloring (or paint the finger with the coloring brush) and place the finger on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining marzipan and almonds.

5. Store marzipan fingers in an airtight Tupperware container for up to two weeks, or freeze well-wrapped marzipan fingers for up to three months.

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Chocolate Bacon Bark

If you happen to follow trends in the world of fine chocolate, you have probably noticed that chocolate bars are getting more experimental. Gone are the days when adding ginger or cayenne qualified as "daring." Now we are seeing chocolate paired with truffles (the fungus, not the confection), fois gras, and bacon.

After reading about these unlikely pairings for months, I finally decided to try experimenting for myself. In a fit of Dr. Frankenstein-esque mad scientist glee, I melded two disparate snacks into one unholy union: Chocolate Bacon Bark! Semi-sweet chocolate is studded with crispy bacon and topped with more chopped bacon, for a candy that baffles the taste buds and clogs the arteries. If you are searching for the new frontier in chocolate candy, give this recipe a try--but save the truffles and fois gras for another time. And if you're a committed bacon lover, stay tuned: this is the beginning of BACON WEEK, a full week of bacon-riffic reicpes on the candy blog!

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Photo c2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Bacon Pralines

You might not believe this, but the bacon isn't even my favorite part of this Bacon Pralines recipe. Sure, I like the slight saltiness and smokiness it gives the pralines. But I'm an even bigger fan of the buttermilk in the recipe that gives the crumbly brown sugar candies a slight tang and a deep golden brown color, and I love the orange zest that adds just the right hint of fruity flavor. The bacon, the buttermilk, and the orange zest all combine to put a modern spin on an old familiar Southern favorite.

If you haven't made pralines before, I recommend checking out this 2-minute video tutorial showing how to make pralines. Making pralines is not exactly rocket science, but it does take a little bit of practice to recognize when they're done being beaten and ready to be formed, and it's much easier to do once you've seen what they should look like. So check it out, wave hi to me on screen, then get your bacon pralines on!

Get the recipe: Bacon Pralines

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Bacon Pralines Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Bacon Caramels

So you've made a bunch of bacon candies, and now you're left with a delicious mug of bacon fat. What's to be done? Well, let's discuss some options. You could drink it, although if you did that, you might not be around much longer to enjoy candies of any type. (Plus, even the thought of that is giving me dry heaves.) You could save it and use it to make a tasty batch of scrambled eggs once a week for the next 10 years. You could toss it, but that seems like a waste, especially when there are so many people in this world without any bacon fat at all, and here you are thinking about throwing it out. No, the only solution is to use some of that bacon fat to make these Bacon Caramels.

Despite what their name might suggest, Bacon Caramels actually have a subtle bacon taste, since the only bacon in the recipe is the fat, which acts as a butter substitute. You don't get any big pockets of bacon tucked away in the middle of the caramels, just a light smokiness, a savory undertone that's impossible to describe but difficult to ignore. Of course, if you'd prefer a stronger bacon taste, you can do what I did with half of the batch, and sprinkle the tops of the caramels with crumbled crispy bacon while they are still soft. I topped the remaining caramels with flaked sea salt, and although I liked both versions, I actually preferred the salted caramels! Sometimes less is more, and in this instance, I found that just a hint of bacon in my caramels is the right amount for me. But don't take my word for it--try it yourself and see what you think.

Get the recipe: Bacon Caramels

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Bacon Caramels Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Caramel corn already has a bit of the ole sweet-salty tug of war going on, what with the crunchy popcorn and salty nuts commingling with the outer layer of sweet caramel. So what happens when you add another salty player, BACON, to the party?

Turns out, the addition of bacon to caramel popcorn is a genius idea! It adds a little smokiness and an extra bit of salt, but because you're only using a few strips of bacon, it's not an overwhelming flavor. In fact, if you chop the bacon into very small pieces, folks might not even notice it's in there--they'll just notice your caramel popcorn is a little more addicting and flavorful than usual. So don't be afraid to add a little pig to your popcorn!

Get the recipe: Bacon Caramel Popcorn

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Bacon Caramel Popcorn Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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How to Make Candy Corn Cake Pops

Dip the Cake Pops in Orange?Coating

Candy Corn Cake Pops Picture (c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Melt the orange candy coating. This time we're going to dip the lollipops from the top end, so holding the pop by the stick, dip it in the orange coating about 2/3 of the way in. The orange should cover part of the yellow coating, so that none of the cake portion is exposed. Repeat until all of the pops have been dipped in orange. If the cake pops start to get soft during this process, re-freeze them briefly just until they're firm enough to continue dipping.

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Creamy Maple Fudge

Creamy Maple Fudge(c) 2009 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Creamy Maple Fudge has a silky-smooth texture and a wonderful fall flavor from real maple syrup and crunchy toasted nuts. I like using pecans or walnuts in this recipe, but hazelnuts would also work well.


  • 1 cup real maple syrup (preferrably "dark" or "grade B")
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped


1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the maple syrup, cream, sugar, salt, and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook, stirring frequently, until it reads 236 degrees F.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the candy into the bowl of a large standing mixer. (Alternately, you can use a hand mixer and pour it into any large bowl.) Insert the candy thermometer and allow the candy to cool, without stirring or disturbing it in any way, until it cools down to 110 degrees F. This may take over an hour.

4. Once it reaches the proper temperature, add the vanilla and beat it with the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on medium speed. Watch it closely, and beat just until it starts to thicken and loses its gloss. If you beat it too much, it will become grainy and stiff in the bowl. Ideally it should still be stirrable when you finish beating. If you have beaten it too much, add a spoonful or two of very hot water and stir to loosen it.

5. Once the fudge is thickened but not set, stir in the toasted nuts, and scrape it into the prepared pan. Press it into a smooth, even layer and allow it to set completely at room temperature for several hours.

6. Once set, remove the fudge from the pan using the foil as handles. Cut it into small one-inch squares to serve. Creamy Maple Fudge can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows

I KNOW I just featured a whole week's worth of marshmallow recipes recently, but can you ever have too many good marshmallow recipes? (Nope!) Besides, these Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows are really unique. How so, you wonder? Let me count the ways.

For one thing, they have a bottom crust of graham cracker crumbs, which is a wee bit unusual. For another, they have a gorgeous swirl of blueberry sauce running throughout the marshmallows, giving them a vibrantly fruity flavor. But perhaps the most interesting thing about them is their texture. As far as homemade marshmallows go, they're very soft. They hold their shape and are easy to cut, but they're not dense, chewy, or sproingy like some 'mallows are. Instead, they're pillowy and almost meringue-like.

The texture plus the blueberry sauce plus the crust makes them taste almost more like a dessert than a candy, and I feel confident that if you sliced these into large squares and served them with a drizzle of more blueberry sauce on top, people wouldn't think twice about eating them with a knife and a fork. Given their dessert-ish nature, I couldn't name them anything but Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows, and given their awesome taste, I couldn't help but share them right away. Forgive me?

Get the recipe: Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows

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Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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How to Make A Paper Cone

Wrap the Short Leg Into A Cone?Shape

Paper Cones photo(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Position the triangle so that the shortest leg is straight with the left side of your table, forming a right angle on the left. Hold your right thumb in the middle of the other leg and, with your left hand, curl the tip of the shortest leg around so that it meets the base of the right angle, forming a cone shape.

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How to Start A Candy Company

Have you ever wondered how to turn your love of making candy into a business? Art Pollard, the founder of Amano Chocolate, was kind enough to answer some questions about his experiences starting a chocolate company. Read on to find out how he began making chocolate, his biggest challenges, and what advice he has for YOU, the home confectioner. The answers below are brief excerpts, be sure to click on the question link to get the full story!

1. How did you first get interested in making chocolate?

As my software company grew, I started to experiment with building my own chocolate refiner as a way to escape coding when I needed to clear my was not long before I was regularly coding in one room while listening to the chocolate refiner chug away in the other room...

2. How did you learn to make chocolate?

Most of what I learned, I learned through trial and error while I was building and testing my chocolate refiner. I hunted as much information as I could through my local university library and purchased many rare and hard to find books. This helped me along the way. There is a lot of difference, though, between making chocolate on an industrial level for industrial purposes in order to make a fifty-cent candy bar at the lowest possible cost and where I wanted to go...

3. What is your factory like?

We imported our roaster from Portugal...When the circular lid is off, I can't help but think that it looks like the Death Star from the movie Star Wars. When we roast the cocoa beans, all our neighbors can smell the aroma. Our neighborhood smells like a large oven full of brownies...

4. How long did it take you to open the factory?

Well, I had made chocolate for a number of years at home for my friends and family before I ever even started considering making chocolate professionally. Once we decided to begin selling chocolate on a larger scale, it became a whole different ballgame...

5. How are you working to gain recognition for your company?

There is still a huge amount of room in the confections industry. We are all familiar with the local chocolate store where hand-dipped chocolates are made. Just about every town has a store like this, and many cities have quite a few. This is where the large industrial giants can never compete. They cannot give the care and attention that a local store can provide...

6. What has been your biggest challenge in starting your own chocolate business?

I have a hard time quantifying the "biggest challenge." It all has been incredibly challenging. When we started, my business partner and I calculated what it would take in time, effort, and money. We knew it would be incredibly taxing, and reality is always different from projections. This was no exception. In fact, it was much more demanding than we had predicted on all three fronts...

7. Do you have any advice for would-be candy entrepreneurs?

People always talk about following your passion. It is said so many times it almost sounds trite, but it is true. It is through passion that we can reach the next level...The most important part of any project is simply to do it and not be afraid of failure. I had several businesses fail before my software business became successful and eventually helped send me on this great chocolate adventure that I love. Some people have been lucky enough to start a business that is successful the first try. This is not the common case...

8. What's on the horizon for Amano Chocolate?

We are looking at cocoa beans from all sorts of exciting places. High-quality cocoa beans are difficult to find, but it is our job to hunt them down and make the chocolate so that you can enjoy it. We are looking at some amazing beans from a number of different sources. It is all about making sure the timing is right...we hope the public will join us; it is sure to be an incredible adventure...

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