It’s great when you’re craving chocolate and have some bars to try out for the first time! I chose Wm Chocolate to represent Wisconsin because admittedly I was attracted to the minimalist-looking name. Even though I know most consumers are attracted to colorful packaging and fancy looking writing, I sometimes prefer the minimalist approach. I found out later that “Wm” stands for the initials of the chocolate maker, William Marx, who started making his own chocolate when he wasn’t satisfied with the chocolate he was finding and decided to make his own that would fit within his personal standards.
Thank you so much to Will for answering some questions about Wm Chocolate and for being patient with me as we went back and forth over email discussing making chocolate!
Why did you choose Madison as your base for Wm Chocolate?
Madison has been home for most of my life, and it’s where I was living when I fell in love with chocolate making. Most importantly, it’s where I have supportive people helping me get my business off the ground.
If your journey began looking for (and eventually making) chocolate that you would like to eat yourself, were you a huge fan of chocolate beforehand and what kind of chocolate products were you trying at the time that pushed you to start making your own chocolate?
The journey actually began with a total rejection of chocolate. About five years ago, when I was first living in my own place and doing all the cooking for myself, I did a ton of reading and thinking about our food system and nutrition–and I did a ton of kitchen experiments. I came out of those experiences with a strong belief in eating whole foods produced using traditional techniques. That meant I quit eating products with refined sugar and other refined additives, so pretty much everything on the chocolate shelf was out for me, and what was left usually wasn’t worth eating–like grocery-store 100% bars and cocoa powder. After a couple years, though, I needed to bring chocolate back into my life. That’s when I started experimenting with homemade concoctions made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and honey. They were okay but left something to be desired from a flavor and texture standpoint, so I decided to look deeper into processing chocolate myself, with the unrefined cane sugar I was using elsewhere in my kitchen.
How did you go about first learning how to make chocolate? Were there websites that you were able to turn to for help or other resources?
For the basic process, I owe a lot to Chocolate Alchemy’s website. Then and now, I don’t think there is a better resource out there for getting started. Most other books and resources describe large industrial versions of the process, which isn’t all that useful for small-batch production.
What were your biggest challenges when you first began making chocolate? Do you have any current challenges that you are working through?
I think I’m not alone in saying I had a lot of trouble with tempering at first. That and figuring out how to use unrefined cane sugar, which behaves a little differently than refined crystal sugar. These days the biggest challenge is space–I don’t have much, meaning I still work with very small equipment and put in a lot of manual labor.
What helps you determine what kind or origin of cacao you will be using to make your chocolate? Does your purchasing through Uncommon Cocoa or Chocolate Alchemy have any affect on your choice(s)?
I have some fundamental requirements for ethics and sustainability, and beyond that it’s largely about flavor. The great thing about working through either of those companies is I know they care about ethics and sustainability too, so the origin-selection process begins with making test batches of whatever they have and determining what is the best fit for the flavor categories I’m trying to fill. My general aim is to stock origins in the classic, fruity, and nutty broad flavor categories, plus an origin or two I just find really compelling. If I’m on the fence, I definitely favor origins that go above and beyond in terms of ethics and sustainability, and that bring geographical diversity to my lineup. That being said, one limiting factor from purchasing through these companies is that most of what they offer is from Central & South America.
Do you have any exciting news or upcoming events for Wm. Chocolate?
I have plans to expand my production space later this year. In the meantime, I’ll be doing lots of markets and events in the Madison area to continue introducing my city to craft chocolate.
This bar looked really shiny and had a nice sharp snap when broken apart. The tasting notes are listed as blackberry, custard, and candied pineapple. The chocolate definitely had a fruity scent to it. I definitely tasted pineapple and what could remind me of custard as a secondary flavor along with some light berry notes. The chocolate melted evenly, slowly and was very smooth in texture. I really liked this bar!
I could see the Hawaiian red sea salt on the back of this bar. The tasting notes are listed as malted milk, banana and caramel. It definitely had a malty, caramel, sweet and salty scent. With the salt side down, I tasted the salt first followed by malt flavoring, then caramel sweetness. Toward the end of my bite I was able to taste that banana flavor with the caramel. I liked that this bar didn’t have a strong malt flavor since I’m not a huge malt fan.
For both of these bars, neither of the flavors were too overwhelming or dominant throughout my bites, which provided nice flavor stories. I would get both of these bars again, but I do want to try other bars by Will since I imagine by the time I get around to making another order (when cooler weather returns), he might have completely different bars in stock. I’m very excited to see what flavors and types of bars Will makes next and I will definitely be shooting him some emails when I read up more on the science of chocolate!
Wm Chocolate: Made in Madison, WI
Don’t forget to check out Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next!
Other chocolate makers in Wisconsin:
Del Sol Chocolate
Omanehe Cocoa Bean Co.
Sjolinds Chocolate House
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.