“In the U.S. alone, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy are sold during Valentine’s week.” And let’s be honest, I consumed a couple of pounds myself, both in chocolate truffles and chocolate brownies! To continue with the chocolate celebrations, we had the chance to interview Ann Czaja, Lindt Master Chocolatier and learn direct front he source how chocolate companies create their new products.
The great thing about Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday means that we can continue to consume massive amounts of chocolate throughout the weekend without any guilt. There are two complete days before Monday hits, so dive into whatever leftover chocolate you have and read on what it takes to be a Lindt Master Chocolatier.
Cooking with Books: When did you realize you wanted to become a chocolatier?
Ann Czaja, Lindt Master Chocolatier: I discovered my love of pastry, baking, and chocolate while traveling in Switzerland. I was very fortunate to learn my craft from the very best. After completing my training, I knew that chocolate was my calling and true passion. Lindt sets itself apart from other chocolate companies in the unparalleled expertise of its Master Chocolatiers, so I was thrilled to begin working as a Master Chocolatier for Lindt USA.
CwB: How’s the R&D process for Lindt products? Do the Master Chocolatiers work directly with the R&D team?
AC: The Lindt Master Chocolatiers serve as the R&D team at Lindt. The Master Chocolatiers go through a lengthy process when developing new products, creating recipes with different inclusions, and tasting samples until we find the perfect flavor profile. A recipe can take anywhere from one to two years from inception until the final product is perfected and available to our consumers – it is a long and thoughtful process.
CwB: Any favorite chocolate childhood memories?
AC: I have always loved chocolate, and as a child, I looked forward to the Easter season and to finding a chocolate bunny in my Easter basket. However, I didn’t know what good, premium chocolate was until I traveled to Switzerland!
CwB: What upcoming trends are you seeing in the chocolate world? Any trends we should look out for in 2014?
AC: The Lindt Master Chocolatiers are continually tracking consumer preferences and researching current trends to create new innovations and premium chocolate offerings.
There are several exciting and delicious flavor combinations and trends right now. Fruit combinations continue to be of interest – Lindt introduced a CLASSIC RECIPE Strawberries & Crème bar, as well as the new LINDOR Coconut truffles, which combine a delicate chocolate shell with an irresistibly smooth melting filling and feature a subtle, tropical essence of coconut. Dark chocolate remains a popular trend, as well as salt, and we are seeing an increasing interest in traditional flavors, such as caramel. This trend helped inform the development of LINDOR Caramel truffles and new CLASSIC RECIPE Caramel with Sea Salt bar. Finally, unique combinations featuring a little heat continue to grow in popularity. Lindt EXCELLENCE Chili has been a favorite flavor for years and we are excited to see continued interest in the spicy flavor experience.
CwB: Any advice for aspiring chocolatiers?
AC: My biggest piece of advice for any aspiring chocolatiers would be to find opportunities to work with a local chocolatier or take a class in chocolate making to get that hands-on experience. The passion for gourmet chocolate coupled with the finest quality ingredients and innovative recipes are just some of the reasons why being a Lindt Master Chocolatier is a great job. It does require a lot of hard work and lot of long hours, so it’s important to learn and make sure the true passion for chocolate is there!
CwB: Fan favorite question: HOW do you achieve that CREAMY center in the truffles that make Lindt chocolate SO addictive?
AC: The iconic LINDOR truffle is a secret recipe that was created by the Lindt Master Chocolatiers in the 1940s and has remained unchanged for more than 60 years. I can’t tell you how we do it because that would take the magic out of it! Just enjoy the experience and indulge in the luscious, smooth melting LINDOR truffles.
Author Notes: It was a pleasure to interview Ann and learn about her passion for chocolate making – it’s truly an inspiration! This post is in no way sponsored by Lindt, they just offered the opportunity to interview one of their master chocolatiers and I wanted to share this fun interview with you, my chocolate loving readers! I did receive samples of new Lindt products and if I recommend you buying one thing, it’s their Classic Chocolate Brownie Mix – it’s hands down, THE best brownie mix in the market. At $12/box, it’s an indulgence I could only afford once in a while, but it’s so worth it. Thanks again to Lindt for the samples and interview opportunity.