Once upon a chocolate
By Ashley Husbands—
A story that began with a bottle of liquor in a dusty attic eventually led to desserts that were selected to be served at the Texas Presidential Inaugural Ball in 2009 and received awards at the Austin Chocolate Festival in past years.
Wiseman House Fine Handmade Chocolates in Hico is known for chocolates that are personally “made fresh by actual people in a community of chocolatiers, real people, real chocolate,” as business owner Kevin Wenzel says.
Wenzel’s first truffle was inspired when he was cleaning out an attic and found a hidden bottle of Jack Daniels from the previous owner. Not being a drinker himself, he asked his brother to taste the liquor and make sure it was still good, and it was. Using the bottle of Jack, he created his first truffle, Southern Hospitality.
Wenzel says ideas for his truffles come from many sources. Some truffles have been created from the differing seasons of Wenzel’s life, dreams he has had, inspiration from his wife, LaDonne, experiences he has in which he tastes the finished flavor of a truffle not yet created and seeks to find how to invent it, and in one particular case, from a letter.
The Love Letter Collection was inspired by a letter found in the attic that was left behind by the original owners of the house. The letter, dated March of 1895, was from a 16-year-old Adeline to her future husband, Rufus Wiseman, before they were married. The letter begins, “My Darling One, Well, I can’t do anything tonight but study about you. So I decided to sit down and write about my love. As I know of no other way to content myself…” The Love Letter Collection of truffles includes Passion, First Kiss, Dark Rufus, Apricot Adeline, Love Potion, and Wild Woman.
The Wild Woman is the most popular truffle sold by Wenzel; it is made with two kinds of Belgian dark chocolate and is popular because, “the name catches the eye and the flavor does not disappoint.”
The Love Letter collection is especially popular on Valentine’s Day. The chocolates crafted at Wiseman are perfect for gifts this time of year because, as Wenzel says, “our chocolates are made with love; if you don’t believe me, try one.”
Beyond The Love Letter Collection, the truffles made by the Wiseman House Fine Chocolates include many differing varieties, each of which is freshly made and has a unique appearance. For example, the Gran Saman is unique because it is flecked on the top with sterling sliver and Love Potion is flecked with 24-carat gold.
The taste of the truffles takes many customers’ breath away. Wenzel recounts experiences of many people first trying the chocolate who get embarrassed because they become distracted from conversation as a result of how phenomenal the taste is.
The store includes not only truffles, but also bark, bars, toffee, malt balls, and various other products. There is also a shop part of the store which contains a beautiful collection of non-chocolate items and gifts available and unique to this area. The collection of non-chocolate items includes things all handpicked by Wenzel’s wife herself at the Dallas World Trade Center from varying vendors.
“There is nothing negative in the store,” Wenzel said. “Chocolate is about fun and good taste, so the other products mirror that.”
There is something for everyone at Wiseman House Fine Handmade Chocolates, located across from The Koffee Kup off of Hwy 281 at 406 W.Grubbs St. Hico, TX. Chocolates can also be purchased online at www.wisemanhousechocolates.com.