ST. PETERSBURG, FL – St. Petersburg chocolatier Maggie Prittie kept finding bits of chocolate in her coat pockets instead of what she was looking for, a passport, for an upcoming trip to Italy.
“That’s when I realized I was a chocolate collector,” Prittie told Patch. “And then I started to learn more about chocolate.”
This realization happened about 10 years ago. Then Prittie launched her sole proprietorship, Prittie Chocolat.
She began researching the producers of cocoa beans and the steps involved in making chocolate.
“I discovered that chocolate can be complex,” Prittie said. “It takes 42 steps to make chocolate – the first step starts at the farm where the cocoa beans are harvested.”
The reason Prittie likes to refer to chocolate as it is is because “she can be a b—-,” she said. “Very temperamental. And she doesn’t like humidity or water. In wet weather it takes longer. No day is the same when you’re making chocolate because of these unpredictable factors.”
To learn more about the craft, Prittie then took a chocolate-making course in Orlando, learning about flavor profiles, Prittie said.
“Chocolate’s flavor profiles are like wine, coffee, and tobacco,” Prittie said. “Each origin has its own flavor profile.”
Prittie said she met cocoa bean farmers in Belize, Ecuador and Venezuela so she could do business with them using their beans to make handmade chocolate. Prittie makes chocolates from 13 origins with three ingredients: cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar.
At some point during her 10 years of making chocolates, she became known as the Chocolate Lady in St. Pete. Prittie also noticed that the longer she worked with cocoa bean farmers, the more her concern for them increased.
“Cocoa bean farmers are truly my passion, and I want to make sure they’re taken care of properly,” Prittie said.
She has provided artisan chocolates to the Salvador Dali Museum, Florida Orchestra, American Craft Art Museum, St. Pete Opera, Tampa Club, and Ringling Museum.
Two Sundays ago, Prittie said she made about 12 pounds of chocolate for the Dali. It took him about 3.5 hours to temper the chocolate. Tempering chocolate means putting everything at the right temperature so that it mixes properly.
A few of Prittie’s artisan chocolates include dark chocolates from Ecuador (72% Arriba) and Venezuela (65% Maracaibo).
A future goal for Prittie’s is to have its chocolate business in one facility.
Prittie then wants to share her chocolate knowledge by leading classes teaching the history of chocolate, the work of cocoa bean growers and chocolate making.
Prittie will be at Must Wine Loft on Wednesday night teaching a dark chocolate and wine pairing class that begins at 6 p.m. Wine loft. To reserve your place for Prittie’s class, click here.
To try Prittie’s chocolates, visit his website to place an order. Or stop by Must Wine Loft, 442 Second Street North, St. Petersburg, and buy Prittie’s artisan chocolate in the retail section. (Check Wine Loft’s opening hours and days before heading there.)