There is a bit of alchemy going on in Cambridge, Vermont. Matteo Campbell has started a chocolate company that takes two beloved ingredients and turns them into pure gold.
Using Belgian chocolate and Boyden Valley Maple Cream brandy, Campbell has created a signature product for his new company, STiR Chocolates that brings cream-filled chocolates to a new level. The only thing that may get in the way of your obtaining one of these delectable treats is a good powder day.
Campbell, who goes by Teo, is a timber-framer and ski coach. Always an artist at heart, the native Vermonter considered becoming a chocolate craftsman for years. In 2013 he took the plunge and went to the Chocolate Academy in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, where he learned the art of tempering, blending and the complex chemistry that goes into producing quality chocolate.
Then Campbell set to work in his home kitchen, experimenting with liqueurs from his brother-in-law’s company, Boyden Valley Winery, to create a flavor combination that isn’t often seen in chocolates. He took the popular Maple Cream brandy and concentrated it (consequently boiling off most of the alcohol so it was child-friendly), added local cream and a few other proprietary ingredients, and thus created a combination that is unworldly good.
One doesn’t often see chocolate and maple together, possibly because both flavors want to take center stage. But somehow the cream and brandy act as the Starr and Harrison to the maple and chocolate’s more assertive McCartney and Lennon—they smooth over the egos and meld them together. Like the Beatles, all four together are brilliant.
Campbell would happily become a full-time chocolatier but he has other commitments and wants to grow his company intelligently. He still works for a timber-framing outfit in Jeffersonville several days a week and, in the winter, he is a free-ski coach for the Smuggler’s Notch Ski Club. Initially he planned his launch for Christmas 2013 but coaching took up too much time in early winter. He then rescheduled his launch for Valentine’s Day and was very successful introducing the maple cream along with a cassis-filled chocolate at the winery in Cambridge.
Demand was immediate but so was the snow, and his devotion to his team again took over all his free time. When spring came, a small sugarbush took the remainder of his time. Since the summer started, he has had more time to ramp up production and is now making several batches a week, which quickly sell out at the winery.
Like all parents, Campbell is always working to find means of balancing career and family life. He and his wife, Stephanie, split parental duties for their two young children, Ila and Reuben, so several days a week, he is on deck for after-school pickup and any other parental issues that come up. This bumps his production schedule into the post-bedtime hours so he makes new batches from 10:30pm to 1am in a basement room that has been remodeled as a kitchen devoted just to chocolate-making.
Far from being a consolation space, Campbell says the room is ideal since the temperature and humidity remain suitable for chocolate-making year round. Working with his family, not around them, is the main goal. Stephanie is a graphic designer and has created all of the labels and media associated with the chocolates. And his daughter Ila enjoys helping package the elegant, four-piece truffle boxes.
Even the company name was chosen to represent his family: (S)tephanie, (T)eo, (I)la, (R)euben.
For the future, Campbell hopes to raise enough capital to invest in some timesaving equipment. With a few simple devices, he could increase efficiency and production, but the gear he has in mind is expensive and he wants to keep the company’s debt to a minimum. He is also working on new flavors for the fall such as incorporating Boyden’s Apple Cream brandy into a caramel-infused chocolate. You should see it and other new flavors soon, even if the snow flies.
For more information, visit STiRChocolates.com