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Since opening in 2010, small batch cooking has allowed Donna Fantetti-Slepicka. owner of River Forest Chocolates, to control the quality of her delicate confections. The definition of "small-batch," however, is a relative term when dealing with a passionate chocolate-especially around the holidays.
Fantetti-Slepicka estimates she's been melting between 500-600 pounds of chocolate each week in the months leading up to Christmas to envelop fresh strawberries and fill her chocolate molds among other things. "I do Sixty-percent of my annual business between November 30th and December 25th," says Fantetti-Slepicka as she supervises production in her new spacious kitchen.
After out-growing their original location, River Forest Chocolates relocated to more spacious storefront on Lake Street in October of 2017. The new operation has nearly doubled the square footage of the shop and the added space has allowed the ambitious Fantetti-Slepicka to ramp up production. Rather than produce candies after hours, the expanded kitchen allows her to maximize time and cook during business hours for the first time.
Business is booming at her quaint shop location thanks to large store front windows and increased foot traffic. "It's busy all day long," says Fantetti-Slepicka, "and I am open seven days a week."
Despite the increased chocolate production, she continues to hand-enrobe her signature salted caramels and hand-dips every single piece of her best-selling English toffee in a high-end couverture chocolate. Couverture chocolate has a higher than average cocoa-butter content and yields the creamier texture River Forest Chocolates' boutique treats are known for.
Freshness is the key to Fantetti-Slepicka's chocolate success and now she is applying that same logic to coffee beans. She partnered up with River Forest resident, Jack Dieter of Big Bill's Coffee, to create a signature River Forest Blend coffee. The whole-bean coffee is sold exclusively at River Forest Chocolates and offers sophisticated notes of honey, chocolate and almond. The beans, intended to be ground and brewed at home, gives consumers a proper caffeine jolt, but Fantetti-Slepicka also offers naturally water decaffeinated blend for purchase.
Take it from me, a piping hot cup coffee of River Forest Blend Coffee paired with a River Forest Tortoise, featuring rich buttery caramel and roasted salted pecans, would be the perfect New Years Day Treat. Here's to a delicious 2018!
River Forest Chocolates
7769 Lake Street
Answer Book 2017
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.
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