The holiday season is filled with sweet references, from the candy canes handed out by Santa Claus to those fabled visions of sugarplums.
We say bring on the chocolate and in that spirit reached out to an award-winning Fairfield County chocolate company to share some thoughts on seasonal treats. Recently introduced to Bridgewater Chocolate through a generous (and delicious) thank-you gift, we knew the company would have the perfect perspective.
Erik Landegren established Bridgewater Chocolate in 1995. He had come to America in 1986 from Sweden as part of the team opening Aquavit, which would become a landmark Nordic-style restaurant in Manhattan. In time, Landegren met his future wife, with the two moving to Bridgewater in Litchfield County to raise their family. While running the Bridgewater Village Store, Landegren, who received his culinary education in Sweden, began further indulging his passion for chocolate.
It was not just any chocolate but handmade chocolate created with quality ingredients and the recipes of his childhood. By 1999, growing demand led Landegren to partner with Andrew Blauner, who today still manages the business side of Bridgewater Chocolate. And now, two decades later, Landegren and Blauner continue to create the Brookfield-based company’s “American-style” premium chocolates, handmade with European-quality ingredients and recipes.
As the holiday season at Bridgewater Chocolate was kicking into high gear, Rose Hawthorne, regional retail sales manager, took some time to answer a few questions from WAG:
How does the holiday season differ from the rest of the year at Bridgewater Chocolate?
“The holiday season is absolutely the busiest time of year for us. People are so excited to visit our beautiful stores and pick out the perfect gift for someone. We also ship a large amount of corporate gifts. Our luxurious chocolates packaged in holiday red or classic navy boxes make an impressive statement, and it’s nice to give a gift that is handmade right here in Connecticut. We ship everything fresh from our chocolate factory in Brookfield and can include a personalized note card.”
What makes chocolate (and the other candies you create) ideal for the holidays, both as gifts and to share with family and friends during celebrations?
“Chocolate is synonymous with happy celebrations, both large and small. Our chocolates are always well received. We have so many wonderful options for special gifts, small treats, thank you gifts, and hostess gifts. People get really excited when you arrive with a Bridgewater Chocolate gift bag. We have even had a few proposals with a ring hidden in a box of our chocolates. We have something for everyone, crunchy, chewy, nutty, caramels, cookies, as well as holiday molds such as snowmen, holiday trees, Santas, dreidels and chocolate coins. Our large chocolate standing Santa makes a fabulous centerpiece. Over the past 25 years many families have created a holiday tradition that includes Bridgewater Chocolate. We love to hear their stories of how their traditions are being passed on to the next generation.”
What are some of the company’s all-time favorites and/or best-selling creations?
“Our most popular items are our pecan or almond Törtéls, in both milk and dark chocolate. They are also one of our very first creations. We roast the nuts and then coat them in our freshly made buttery chewy caramel and enrobe it in our creamy chocolate. Our buttercrunch hazelnut toffee is also a longtime favorite.”
What is new or in the spotlight for this season? Can you hint at any new items or flavors that might be introduced in the new year?
“This holiday season we have our own Bridgewater Chocolate Hot Chocolate mix. It’s a delicious blend of cocoa and tiny bits of our chocolate that melt to create a decadent, thick, rich European-style hot chocolate. It’s the perfect treat on a cold snowy day. We also have our creamy crunchy peppermints and a peppermint bar returning for the winter season. A new item is our milk chocolate-covered Virginia Peanuts, which (are) addictively sweet and slightly salty. All of these make excellent stocking stuffers.
“In the coming year we are working on some new specialty chocolate bars in sophisticated flavors.”
On a bit of a personal note, if you had to pick, what would be your favorite among all the company offers — and how do you like to enjoy it?
“I love our dark chocolate pecan Törtéls with a nice cup of coffee — nutty, chewy, chocolatey goodness in every bite. Since I can’t pick just one favorite — our dark chocolate truffles are truly swoon worthy.”
For more, visit the Bridgewater Chocolate Factory Store in Brookfield, its retail shop in West Hartford or bridgewaterchocolate.com.