LouLouBelle Collection: part of the collection’s profits were donated to Breast Cancer Research
My first glimpse of Jacqueline Jacek’s exquisite chocolates was at Strathcona Farmers’ Market, just before Valentine’s Day. And it’s lucky I was there early, because by 11am her artfully packaged boxes of 6, 12 and 24 chocolate gems were completely gone!
And selling out is Jacqueline Jacek’s big challenge: her chocolate collections are in such demand that her production simply can’t keep up!
Jacek’s chocolates are created in Jacqueline’s purpose-built studio in her Sherwood Park home. Constrained by the size of her premises plus her inability to hire any help (for home business operators, Strathcona County says no to employees helping out), Jacqueline is considering commercial premises sometime next year so she can keep up with her demand.
Jacqueline hails from Edmonton, but moved with her family to New Zealand at age 15. And it was there that she worked on her 6-month intensive course with Ecole Chocolat. But becoming a chocolatier remained a dream until, back home in Edmonton, Jacqueline launched Jacek Chocolate Couture at Salisbury Farmers’ Market on December 1st, 2009. That December, Jacek produced and sold 3000 chocolates: just a year later, in December 2010, production had increased to 7000 for the month!
Escape 2011 Collection
Jacqueline produces a new collection every 3 months, and the Escape 2011 Collection, launched February 1st, is her best yet! She is constantly on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration, and creates her own flavoured ganache centres, that are as delicious as they are unique. Escape 2011 includes Kiwi Kissed Cocktail, a lustrous green dome, oozing with a creamy ganache flavoured with “fresh kiwi fruit with a drop of New Zealand’s 42 Below vodka”; and Citron et Poire à Paris, a shimmering heart filled with a “lemon and pear ganache laced with fresh ginger and clove”. There are 6 jewel-like varieties in every collection, inspired by the 6-piece Couture Collections of the fashion world.
Meeting with Jacqueline in her immaculate studio, I got a glimpse of the intricate process involved in producing and packaging her delectable chocolate treats. Each chocolate takes 2-3 minutes to produce, starting with tempering, the “process of heating and cooling chocolate to the proper crystallized form”. Tempering chocolate creates shine, and snap, and prevents unsightly fat or sugar bloom, and a pasty mouth feel. Jacek works with top quality couverture chocolate, high in cocoa fat. (Confectionary chocolate has a lower pricer tag, but the reduction in price is matched by a reduction in quality since the cocoa fats are removed and replaced by other fats.)
Each chocolate starts its life in a mould, with a painted-on shell of tinted cocoa butter. Once the outer shell has set, it’s filled with a fresh cream ganache, or a caramel centre, that’s left to set before being encased in a final covering of luscious couverture chocolate. Each piece is then packaged by hand before being delivered to an Edmonton supplier, shipped out of province (Jacek’s chocolates can be ordered online) or delivered to one of Jacek’s private clients: her beautiful boxes make perfect corporate gifts; and she works with brides to create unique, personalized flavours which, boxed in Tiffany-style ring boxes, are an elegant and delicious wedding favour for their special day .
In Edmonton you can find Jacek Chocolate Couture’s collections at Café Haven, Credo Coffee and Everything Cheese. And Jacqueline will be back at Strathcona Farmers’ Market on time for Easter, on April 16th and 23rd. And for mother’s day, her collection will be in stock at Funky Petals from May 2nd. If you haven’t tried a Jacek Chocolate yet, you’re in for a treat. Because Jacqueline’s extraordinary chocolates taste just as good as they look!