By MIKE CHAIKEN
Caroline Maselli liked chocolate as a child.
“I think I may have always enjoyed chocolate,” said the owner of Care’s Chocolates. “I grew up on Hershey and M&Ms— my favorite Halloween candy. I also remember Russell Stover being a favorite of my mom’s and having it as a special treat. I loved the chewy nougats and still do, especially if it is dipped in dark chocolate.”
“As I got older,” said Maselli, “I began to appreciate the better quality chocolates like Godiva or chocolate from Europe. I would always purchase chocolate on my overseas travel for work.”
Care’s Chocolates will be making the rounds at the local holiday fairs, bazaars, and craft shows over the next few months.
Although Maselli enjoyed chocolate as a youth, the confection was not a centerpiece of the household’s culinary routine as she was growing up.”We ate the typical brownies and chocolate chip cookies and my grandmother made the best chocolate cake,” said Maselli in an email interview. But, she said, “We didn’t have an over abundance of chocolate around.”
Instead of a family background of indulging in chocolate, the Lakeside, Conn. resident said a class sparked her love for becoming a chocolatier.
“I first became interested in making chocolates after taking classes as a teen at Candy Chalet… in Torrington,” said Maselli. “It became a hobby and I made lollipops and molded chocolates for family and friends for the holidays.”
Eventually, Maselli turned her hobby into a vocation.
“I was looking to have a part time business and founded Care’s Chocolates in 1989 after encouragement from family and friends,” said Maselli.
“I converted part of our basement into a licensed candy kitchen,” said Maselli. “I started selling to a local business and private orders and eventually branched out into craft fairs.”
Maselli enjoys the business venture of selling chocolates. “I like being challenged to find something new whether it is finding a new mold or coming up with a new idea,” said Maselli.
For instance, Maselli said, “My podiatrist used to order chocolate feet and chocolate; golf balls were the standard favor for a golf tournament; yin yang pops were the special treat after testing at a karate school.”
“I have also developed a chocolate pizza where the toppings are made of chocolate but look like typical toppings of mushrooms, sausage, and peppers with cheese,” said Maselli.
Coming up with the ideas for chocolate is one thing, but making them delicious requires a little help from her friends, said Maselli.
“My family, friends and co-workers are my test subjects because they are honest with me and aren’t worried about hurting my feelings,” said Maselli. “Sometimes things don’t work so well or it’s not something they think would appeal to a wide range of people. They may also come up with new ideas.”
For example, said Maselli, “Last year, I made a hot pepper peanut brittle and a coworker suggested dipping it in dark chocolate with sea salt. It became a hit and I am making it again this year.”
In terms of signature treats for Care’s Chocolates, Maselli cited her caramel pretzels and cordial cherries.
“The caramel is rich and buttery and makes for the perfect sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy combination. If you are not careful the cordial cherries will dribble down your chin,” she said.
“Also, fudge has started to become more popular,” said Masselli. “Current flavors are plain, walnut, peanut butter, cranberry nut, cookies and cream, and the New England favorite penuche, which took a while to perfect. I… will be trying out pumpkin this year.”
Care’s Chocolates can typically be found at winter holiday craft fairs, she said.
“I typically do 5 to 6 craft fairs a year and concentrate on Christmas,” said Maselli. “I like seeing the look of happiness when people buy my chocolate.”
“I have a faithful following,” said Maselli. “At a show in Bristol one year I had an excited grandmother shout across a crowded room ‘She’s over here’ when her grandchildren thought they had missed me.”
Care’s Chocolates’ agenda for this holiday season is as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Bridget’s Shoppers Delight, 171 Main St., Cheshire.
Saturday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Northwestern Regional School Holiday Craft Fair, 100 Battistoni Dr., Winsted.
Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Waterbury Artisan’s Marketplace, Waterbury City Hall, 235 Grand St., Waterbury.
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24 and 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the St. Gregory Christmas Craft Fair, CCD Center, 1043 Stratford Rd., Bristol.
Saturday, Dec. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Woodbury Junior Women’s Club Craft Fair and Boutique, Woodbury Middle School, 67 Washington Ave., Woodbury.
You can also find Care’s Chocolates at Trish’s Treasures, 172 Church St., Naugatuck
If you’re interested in Care’s Chocolates and you can’t make those events or to Trish’s, you can call (860) 309-0660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.