NORTH HERO, Vt. (WCAX) We are a little over a week away from Valentine's Day, one of the biggest days for chocolate gifts. One North Hero couple's new Made in Vermont chocolates are European inspired with a local flavor.
What looks like an old church on the outside is actually a lab on the inside -- Champlain Islands Candy Lab.
"We want to build a brand about the islands, and what better way to do it then putting it in the basement of a landmark," said Albert Reyes-McCarver. Of course every lab needs it's mad scientist. That's where Albert -- a biochemist with a culinary degree -- comes in.
"Chocolate is a fickle beast," Albert said. You have to stir it to get it to the right temperature... It's about knowing how to raise it to the right temperature and lower it to the right temperature, and that's what almost gives it the glass sheen."
Albert and his husband, Michael, moved from Manhattan to the islands about five years ago. "We just felt very comfortable here," he said. They opened shop in mid-November last year and business has been booming ever since.
"Because people that we knew from New York, and from business contacts, started ordering. We got a couple of corporate accounts that ordered. Then we got local people that started ordering," Michael said.
Inspired by European chocolates, the products at Champlain Islands Candy Labs are hand made and hand painted. There are no fillers or preservatives, and the extracts used, like corn or blackberries, are grown by Michael and Albert. "It's kind of like farm stand in chocolate," Michael said. "Everything we do is kind of rotational. There's no set standard menu."
Right now on the menu, it's hearts for Valentines Day. A six-pack for $15.
"Every piece is unique, every piece is different, sometimes the colors will change," Michael said.
Michael and Albert want to keep the carbon footprint low at Champlain Islands Candy Lab. They are donating five-percent of their profits to cleaning up Lake Champlain -- once they make a profit of course. "The key is to get Vermonters and everybody to buy as much as they can. Not only because it tastes good, but because it does good things," Albert said.
Chemistry makes the Champlain Islands Candy Lab work -- from the people to the product. Chocolates that you could say, are gifts from the heavens.