Sweet times on Main Street: Jacksons to launch truffle store in Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — There’s an old saying that “money talks, but chocolate sings.” If that’s the case, folks this spring are likely to be beating a melodious path to downtown Middlebury and a new chocolate and coffee shop that will soon be served up by Stephanie and Andy Jackson.
“Middlebury Chocolates” is currently taking shape in the Holm building next to the Battell Bridge and Otter Creek Falls, in a portion of space formerly occupied by the Town Hall Theater administrative offices.
Once open, the shop will offer a collection of organic, specialty truffles that customers will be able to savor with a splash of freshly brewed coffee or tea.
“This is something we had always talked about doing,” Stephanie Jackson said last week during an interview in the couple’s as-yet unfurnished shop, which could be ready for customers as soon as the end of this month.
“We finally decided it was time to stop talking about it and do something about it.”
Truth be told, Middlebury Chocolates has gone from dream to near reality in a relatively short period of time. The Jacksons, both in their mid-20s, moved to Middlebury from North Carolina at the beginning of the year. Andy grew up in upstate New York, and they fell in love with Vermont during a recent visit.
“We came up on a road trip, and we couldn’t really leave,” Stephanie said, adding, “We were looking for a small town to raise our kids.”
Andy Jackson is a film and photography professional by trade. Stephanie Jackson has always been interested in culinary endeavors, particularly those that sate the sweet tooth. She’s worked in bakeries, where she took copious mental notes on the art of creating confections.
“I absorbed all I could and listened to everything people would teach me,” she said.
Jackson quickly put that knowledge to use in her own kitchen. It was only after she gave some her truffle samples to Carol’s Hungry Mind Café owner John Melanson that she decided to take her wares to the masses. Melanson told her the truffles were scrumptious enough to market, and began selling them out of Carol’s. The Jacksons then launched Middlebury Chocolates as a wholesale venture through their Web site, www.middleburychocolates.com.
Buoyed by stellar Valentine’s Day sales this past February, the duo decided to open their shop in the Holm building. They plan to offer seating for up to 20 clients in their space, which will be equipped with a kitchen and tea and coffee brewing service.
“Organic” will be the key word for the vast majority of the store’s products, with truffles being the centerpiece. The Jacksons said they will use 100-percent organic chocolate, combined with fresh, natural ingredients. All sugars used are whole, unrefined, and provide a much lower glycemic index than common processed sugars. The truffles are dairy-free, unless otherwise specified.
The couple currently makes around a half-dozen varieties, ranging from the classic rich, dark chocolate, to the exotic “trio of peppers.” The “trio” contains sweet chocolate blended with marinated guajillo chili, chipotle and green peppercorns, topped with a Ceylon cinnamon spice blend.
Other truffle varieties include “lemon chevre,” “maple mascarpone” and “cardamom vanilla.”
More variety is on the way, according to Jackson.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to truffle flavors,” she said.
Complementing the sweets will be a variety of coffees and loose-leaf teas. Stephanie Jackson has experience as a coffee roaster. They will get tea supplies through Middlebury’s Vermont Tea and Trading Co.
Plans call for the store to be open Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening.
If all goes well, the Jacksons hope to add new features to the business.
“Eventually, in the future, we want to do some community dinners here,” Jackson said. “I love hostessing more than anything.”
John Flowers is at [email protected].