Local Cocoa- Q&A with Sweeteeth
A chocolate-covered legacy continues through Sweeteeth chocolatier Rachel Ball.
Charleston is a rich source of artisan products, owing to its inspiring nature and the seas of talented makers who call the Lowcountry home. Among the plethora of handcrafted goods, perhaps none is sweeter than Sweeteeth Chocolate. Created by former EVO Pizza employee, Johnny Battles, Sweeteeth is now an EVO institution, having been acquired by the restaurant group in 2015. Now, the baton has been passed to chocolatier Rachel Ball, who took a break from melting, mixing, filling, and wrapping up the delectable creations to chat with us about her unique job and the products she creates.
Azalea Magazine: What are you doing right now?
Rachel Ball: Right now, I am making our A’chocolypse bar. I’m melting down the dark chocolate, which can take up to three hours just to get to the right temperature, but it’s worth the wait. Once it is tempered, I will ladle it into to molds, tap them to get the air bubbles out, and let it settle for a bit. Then I will sprinkle Pop Rocks and candied ginger on the top and set it all aside to cool and harden. Later, I will break them out of their molds and hand-wrap each one.
AM: Speaking of that packaging…it is gorgeous.
RB: It really is beautiful. That was something Johnny Battles did with Fuzzco Creative Agency, and we have no plans on changing it. It is definitely eye-catching, and a lot of people say they love to give the bars as gifts because of it.
AM: So how did you get involved with Sweeteeth?
RB: I was working at EVO in the restaurant and began to express interest in the bakery side of things. They had just acquired Sweeteeth and were looking for someone to take over the production of the chocolate, so it was a perfect fit.
AM: I’m sure you get this a lot, but do you ever feel like Willy Wonka?
RB: (Laughs). Actually, we just finished a collaborative contest with Lowcounty Local First where we hid golden tickets within the wrappers of four of our Sea is for Caramel bars. A lot of local businesses donated gift certificates and items for the prize packages, and people were really excited about trying to find the golden tickets. It was really fun.
AM: Tell me about your flavors.
RB: We currently have three filled bars, two bars with toppings, and one mixed bar. The filled bars include the Sea is for Caramel, with caramel and sea salt, the PB+C with peanut butter, chipotle peppers, and sea salt, and the Call of the Wild, with our house port wine caramel. All three of those feature 65% dark chocolate. Then we have the Cinnapsis, a 50% dark chocolate bar with dried apples, candied pecans, and cinnamon, and the A’chocolypse, with 70% dark chocolate, candied ginger, and Pop Rocks. Our last bar is the O-Snap! bar, which is a white chocolate bar with pieces of ginger snaps incorporated into it, so it has a crunch to it.
AM: How could anyone choose between all of those? Is there a standout favorite among your customers?
RB: They are all so delicious, but the Sea is for Caramel is by far our top seller. It has a pretty dedicated fan base who makes sure that they never sit on the shelf for too long.
AM: Any plans for new flavors in the future?
RB: Creating a new bar is a fairly large undertaking, because they have to get DHEC approval and undergo a variety of tests and evaluations; we can’t just have an idea for a bar one day and start making it for retail sale. But I love experimenting with flavors, so I do that in the form of chocolate bon bons, which we sell at EVO Craft Bakery behind EVO restaurant in Park Circle.
AM: What types of bon bons have you created thus far?
RB: Well, we can always make any of the bar flavors in the form of bon bons, and often do. But the ones I create are really just whatever I want to try at the time. I enjoyed making cognac caramel bon bons and white chocolate raspberry bon bons recently, and I’ve been playing with pâte de fruit, which are fruit jewels with a gummy texture. It’s a lot of trial and error, a lot of science, and really only limited by imagination.
AM: Ok, we are sold on everything. Where can we get our hands on everything you’ve told us about?
By Jana Riley