WOODSTOCK, Ill. (WLS) -- Despite its location in a bucolic, almost serene Midwestern town, Ethereal Confections has quite a bit going on behind its pleasant facade.
"We make chocolate bars, we make truffles, we have a caf here, we're open at 7 a.m. every morning; people come to get coffee and pastries, sometimes desserts," said Ethereal's co-owner, Mary Ervin.
But they're also one of only a few dozen chocolate shops in the nation, making their own chocolate, rather than buying it bulk from someone else.
"We make chocolate from the bean, so we buy chocolate beans - they're single-origin chocolates from farmers and we process them here so we get the beans, we roast them and then we winnow them and turn them into chocolates," said Ervin.
After winnowing the beans, the cacao nibs are ground for about two days, until they become silky smooth. From that point, it can be used to coat delicate truffles, used in the cafe's cookies and pastries, or poured into molds, to make the base of at least a dozen creative chocolate bars.
Everything is done by hand here, which means tapping those molds to get out the air bubbles; and with respect to their range of chocolate bars, they use a lot more than just almonds or peanuts. Take this "inclusion" bar for example, jammed with pistachios, cranberries and sea salt.
"Not just nuts and fruits, but we'll add spices or we'll add olive oil and vinegar to make a creamy center so we do a lot of different things," she said.
Now if you can't make it to Woodstock, you can find Ethereal Confections chocolates all over Chicagoland in about a dozen different locations but certainly, no harm in coming over here to check out the quaint downtown square.
The cafe is also open late, if you want to stop in for a dessert or a drink after dinner.
113 S. Benton St., Woodstock, IL
Available at Whole Foods (on Kingsbury, in Lincoln Park)
Mrs. Greens (Lincoln Park)
Olivia's Market (Bucktown)
Plum Market (Old Town)
Foodease Market (Water Tower Place)
Oh, Olive (ogilvie Station)
Ethereal Confections making world-class chocolate by hand