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THE CANDY MAN: McCann's Creations Melt In Your Mouth, Not In His Hands

 





The Candy Man: McCann's creations melt in your mouth, not in his hands
By David Panian - Daily Telegram Staff Writer September 2, 2000

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS



ABOVE: Jim McCann. seen here pouring chocolate into an animal mold. and his wife, Barb, own The Chocolate Vault in Tecumseh.  He said creating art with chocolate is tricky business.  Chocolate must at 98.6 degrees to be poured into the variety of shapes available at the store. 

TECUMSEH - It takes a patient person to work with chocolate.

Jim McCann and his wife, Barb, own The Chocolate Vault in Tecumseh, and he said in his 20 years he has learned being patient in letting the chocolate melt slowly is key to getting the best flavor and composition.

"You have to have patience to not hurry the melting of the chocolate and breaking it down," he said.

McCann said chocolate has a melting point below body temperature, 98.6 F - The Chocolate Vault's melting temperature is a trade secret. Their melting machines have sensors in them that alternate turning on heaters and fans to keep the melted chocolate within one degree of its proper temperature.

If the chocolate gets too hot, its composition begins to break down, McCann, making it less desirable for the chocolatier and the consumer. If its too cool, it's harder to work with.

"The homebody has a harder time because you just have a double-boiler and a thermometer. That's why the compound coatings are good for the home. You don't have to be so critical with the temperature," he said.

There is no formal training to become a chocolatier, McCann said. He and his wife got into the business after selling chocolate-making equipment and deciding to start making their own candies. He said candy makers learn from other candy makers and trial and error.

"There is no candy school, no Sweet University," he said. "It's kind of internal, learning from each other instead of a formal education."

The Chocolate Vault receives its chocolate in 10-pound blocks, which they break up to put in the melting machines. The machines are basically a stainless-steel melting bowl with a partition to keep the solid chocolate from the liquid chocolate. The bowl is rotated and is alternately heated and cooled. McCann said they'll go through about 100 pounds of chocolate a day.

They don't tinker with the chocolate to get different flavors, McCann said.

"The day is short enough as it is," he said.

Milk chocolate is the most popular flavor, he said. They also have dark and white chocolate, and they add green coloring to the white chocolate for the store's signature Croakers - little frogs made of molded chocolate filled with pecans and caramel.

The truffles at the store are all made from scratch at the store, McCann said, but the centers - such as nuts and coconut - for the dipped chocolates are from a supplier. Those aren't what keep the store busy.

Most of The Chocolate Vault's business is leaning towards molded chocolate, McCann said. He credited that to the store's Web site, www.chocolatevault.com.

"Our sales in molded chocolates have just skyrocketed," he said.

The Chocolate Vault probably has a skyrocket mold, but if not, they can get one. McCann said they have been asked to do all sorts of custom molds. Those orders take about a month to fill, depending on the complication of the mold.

At the chocolatiers' disposal are molds for various professions such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, construction workers and police officers. The police molds are a night stick, radio, badge and handcuffs. They have different animals and objects available, too.

For holidays, The Chocolate Vault can bring out the big molds. They have a Santa Claus mold that yields a 5-pound hunk of Christmas chocolate. That is nowhere near their largest mold, though. Maybe next Easter someone will want to take home a 4-foot Easter bunny, and it's no hollow hare. It's a whole hare. McCann estimates it will take 40 pounds of chocolate to fill, but he isn't sure how much because they just bought it.

"A candy store went out of business, and we acquired a lot of their molds," he said.

McCann said the molds can be personalized by adding lettering to a molded chocolate piece just like a baker would decorate a cake, except they use chocolate instead of icing.

There aren't any chocoholics who work at The Chocolate Vault, McCann said.

"Everybody who works here likes the chocolate, but we don't just dive into it," he said.

However, he has had people come in and say they just need some chocolate to satisfy a craving.

McCann said the employees probably are satisfied by the aroma of chocolate in the air at the store, but he understands how some people have to have some chocolate every day.

"We're here to satisfy that need," he said.

 

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Last Update: 05/08/2016 01:30 PM by BMc/RMc