With Loudouners’ mouths watering for desserts and tasty treats of all kinds, one chocolate maker is stepping onto the scene in a more personalized way.
Four months ago, 10-year Loudoun resident Larry Waters began selling artisan chocolates as part of his newest business venture, Yummyworks. Absent of a physical storefront, he’s been selling his creations on Saturday mornings at the Leesburg Farmers’ Market and daily at the Very Virginia Shop in downtown Leesburg, featuring a chocolate lineup that includes raspberry coconut, lemon, lime margarita, espresso and mango habanero.
Waters, 48, said that it’s his customization of the sweets that sets him apart from other confection makers in the area.
Waters’ ability to tailor the design, shape and colors of his chocolates is a product of his kitchen location—in his Beacon Hill home. After obtaining a business license, spending $25,000 on a customized kitchen and passing a Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspection last April, Waters began experimenting with his newfound passion for chocolate making, something he said had fascinated him for years.
Now, the stay-at-home father of three concocts chocolates as his full-time job whenever he has the time—often in the wee hours of the morning. “I’ve learned so much in those nine months and a lot of it’s just trial and error,” he said.
Waters’ chocolate-making process is fine-tuned and time-intensive. He begins by creating a 25-chocolate mold out of Valrhona chocolate and other high-end ingredients. Then, he mixes the ganache, which is a chocolate and cream filling, pours it into the chocolate molds, sets them aside for eight hours to crystalize and polishes them with a cocoa butter for a shiny finish.
“It’s a very tedious process, it’s not something you can just do in an hour,” he said. “You get this really cool, artistic piece of chocolate.”
Waters’ concentration on the intricacies of each chocolate is something he feels gives him a leg up on the competition. While larger producers don’t have the time to customize each batch of chocolates, Waters has plenty of time working out of his home kitchen. He said that doing something like customizing chocolates to match bridesmaids’ dresses would be a cinch for him to pull off.
His weekly production typically consists of making 100 chocolates a day from Wednesday to Friday before taking them to the Leesburg Farmers’ Market and the Very Virginia Shop.
While the chocolates go for $1.25 a piece, customers have the option to purchase them individually or to pick out their favorites to buy as a box set.
Waters also sells 4-ounce chocolate bars for $7, caramels and seasonal chocolate creations. This weekend at the Very Virginia Shop, Waters will have clover chocolates available for purchase for St. Patrick’s Day. “As more people know, we’ll be carrying more lines,” said shop owner Sola Pallotta.
Pallotta said she would also soon be including Waters’ chocolates in her shop’s wedding welcome bags, which customers buy to hand out as wedding favors.
As for ratings and reviews, Waters said a common sentiment among his customers is that the chocolates are “too pretty to eat.” To that end, he said that while he puts a lot of time and effort into making them, “they’re good to eat, too.”
His wife, Mo, said that it’s “art made from the heart.”
Waters is spreading the word about Yummyworks and looking to set up online sales and partner with area wineries, which he hopes will provide him with weekly orders. He said that after that, once he starts seeing a consistent revenue stream, he’ll focus on opening a storefront in downtown Leesburg.
“That would be the ultimate goal,” he said. “We’re just taking it slow.”