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Beyond Chocolate

Obsession Chocolates explodes into new location

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by Kinzy Janssen photos by Andrea Paulseth

Obsession Chocolates’ huge new location at 18 S. Barstow St. made room for a much larger chocolate operation, a full service coffeeshop/café (serving breakfast and lunch), a bakery, and a classroom.
 
Obsession Chocolates’ huge new location at 18 S. Barstow St. made room for a much larger chocolate operation, a full service coffeeshop/café (serving breakfast and lunch), a bakery, and a classroom.

After 20 months of extensive renovations, Obsession Chocolates has leapt onto the Eau Claire café scene – and brought their artistic chocolates with them.

The space at 18 S. Barstow (the former Eau Claire Children’s Theatre) is dramatic and homey at the same time: soft armchairs are arranged in a close circle under a sculpted white ceiling. Burgundy ribbons secure a napkin around your silverware set, which you will use to devour biscuits and gravy.

It’s like the dichotomy that makes owner Rebecca Flynn’s truffles so wondrous – the adventuresome pairing of rare herbs against the simple, familiar backdrop of chocolate.

Above: confections.
 
Above: confections.
After ushering me back into what I am unofficially calling the “factory,” she showed me a machine that gushed melted chocolate – a mini Wonka waterfall. The chocolate artist used it to fill a sheet of snowman molds and then sent the material through a cooling tunnel to “temper” it (make it stay hardened). Then she runs a flame over the surface so an exterior layer of chocolate can bond with it easily.

“Chocolate is a very scientific ingredient. It requires ... a touch,” said Flynn. “I’ve always liked science and chemistry.”

Though this new chocolate machine holds 50 pounds of the stuff, Flynn reminisces about the one back at the Water Street location. “We had a tiny chocolate machine that only held 10 pounds. We thought we were hot stuff!” she laughed. But they don’t automate everything. “We still do a lot of things the old fashioned way,” she said. “We still handwork our truffles and do all the painting by hand.” Between the raw cocoa and the tiny works of art, three people are involved.

And there’s plenty of space for them to work. Flynn is still reeling about the sheer amount of space, comparing the current area behind the counter to the entire business on Water Street. “It’s just amazing,” said Flynn.

They also employ three bakers who create baguettes and croissants practically daily. They even make New Orleans’ style doughnuts, called Beignets, that are pillowy-soft and doused in powdered sugar, then dipped in chocolate sauce. Instead of a dense cakiness, you’ll be met with a collapsing airiness.

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