One of the best surprises about moving to the Hudson Valley/Berkshires area has been the number of creative businesses located here. In a time when corporations seem to be angling to control pretty much everything they don’t already have a grip on, the growing number of small, creative vendors makes us hopeful. Which is why we’ve decided to start talking to some about what they do.
Xocolatl means bitter water or bitter drink in Mayan, but to those who’ve found Esther on Etsy, it’s all about chocolate. She lives in Dutchess County with her family, including her son, Alex, and her chickens.
What is your background in chocolate/cocoa? You clearly have a long relationship with it.
For as long as I can remember when we were little our mother used to give us a piece of crusty French baguette cut in half with a big piece of chocolate in the middle or Nutella for our afternoon snack… as you can imagine we looooved it!!! Now this may sound a little weird for American culture but for us Nutella is the European version of peanut butter, so it’s a huge comfort food for us.
For long winter afternoons my mother used to make hot chocolate with churros, now, I don’t know of anybody else that eats and I say eat and not drink hot chocolate la Spaniards do, it’s so thick that you almost need a fork and knife to drink it. One time I ate sooo much chocolate that I developed a temporary (THANK GOD!!!) allergic reaction to it!!! Those we’re terrible months for me until it was gone. Chocolate withdrawal syndrome is bad especially when you’re a kid!!!
In our house the kitchen was always the main room, comfy, cozy and delicious aromas always around… I’ve always loved cooking, (my mom was a great cook, and always my inspiration in the kitchen) baking… but most of all, I love making desserts… and of course, like most human beings: chocolate!!! So when I decided I wanted to open an Etsy shop, most of my desserts couldn’t be shipped because of refrigeration, so… here came the idea of selling my truffles and chocolate confections online. We are still in diapers but hopefully we’ll be able to share de AMAZING world of chocolate with a lot of folks!!!
How did you decide on the name Xocolatl? Is there a Mayan influence?
I love history and reading, and of course being from Spain we had to study the discovery of the Americas, and its cultures always fascinated me… Mayans, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas (I married one of them)… and so on they meant adventure to me, it was so amazing to find out that cocoa was actually used as a form of currency. Cacao appeased the gods, hence the saying “Food of the Gods” and I also think it appeases us.
In Spain the bean was crushed and mixed with sugar and spices and soon became a popular drink with the nobles. It remained a closely guarded secret for almost a century but with intermarriage between the royal families, it eventually gained popularity throughout Europe and remained an expensive luxury.
I think it’s such a beautiful story that I decided to use the name Xocolatl which means bitter drink, to pay homage to these great cultures still alive today, also it’s pretty close too to how you say chocolate in a bunch of languages, plus I think it sounds so exotic!!!
The recipes are so creative — The Japanese Truffle Combination, in particular. Do you make these recipes up?
I wish I could take credit for the Japanese Combination idea, but no, it wasn’t me!!! A friend of mine saw them in a little bakery in Spain and sent me a sample. So these are my version of those, very exotic too!!! After that I got the idea of making the sesame truffles, but I’ve seen those around too. But we use our own recipe for all the truffles we create.
What are some of your favorites in your store?
My favorite truffles are a classic, Bailey’s truffles; they are ridiculously rich and deep in flavor…, but being from Spain again, I had to do something with Spanish Saffron, our most delicious spice, these truffles are surprising and exotic, and sweetened with a touch of lavender honey. Very elegant too.
Tell me about where you work. Does Alex like chocolate?
We own a mother/daughter home, so we use one of the kitchens for our confections. As for Alex liking chocolate, I’ll just tell you that he holds the badge for Xocolatl #1 fan!!! He loooves it, he calls it “Tati”. What kid doesn’t love chocolate? He’s not allowed in the kitchen when we are preparing orders, otherwise our customers would get half of what they paid for… lol, and I mean that!!!
What do you do when you’re not making truffles?
When I’m not making truffles I also do a lot of good for the chocolate lovers… I work three days a week in a dental office, so half of my time I help people get cavities and the other half I help fixing them!!!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to add that we really mean what we say in our Etsy Shop’s profile:
“There can’t be many people who can resist the temptation of a delicious bar of chocolate. It’s one of life’s great pleasures and, if you ask me, it should be given out free of charge just to make people’s lives that little bit more enjoyable.”
We can’t give ALL of it for free, but let me tell you a sweet little secret that nobody knows… We ALWAYS include a little something free with our orders to sweeten our customers’ lives a little more!!!
Have a sweet day!!!