Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what could be better to give a sweetie than heart-shaped chocolates in exotic flavors made by a chocolatier with the last name Love?
Norman Love Confections has come out with a limited Valentine’s Day collection available through Feb. 14 called Wild about Love. The chocolates resemble polished marble in colors from scarlet and topaz to violet and peach nestled in an elegant lime-green and pink heart-shaped box with as few as 5 and up to 50 pieces per box.
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Love grew up in Philadelphia, where he was known as a rink rat for his love of hockey. His passion for cooking began in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, who created what young Norman saw as food art with his favorite ingredient being chocolate.
The family moved to Hollywood when he was 15, and he began working as a dishwasher at a Chinese place after school and then worked at a Swensen’s ice cream parlor. He trained managers there, saw people happy and decided not to be a dentist like he thought he would.
Love applied to the Culinary Institute of America and was put on a waiting list and started making chocolate. He honed his skills in a work-study program in a pastry shop in southern France and then became the pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, where he went on to become the corporate executive pastry chef. In 1999 he led the U.S. team to a bronze medal in the Coup du Monde de la Pâtisserie (World Cup of Pastry) in Lyon, France. In 2001 he founded his chocolate factory, based in Naples.
The Valentine’s collection includes milk chocolate Wild Fire, a creamy ganache with a hit of habanero chile that could set a heart on fire; Passion Orange, white chocolate with passion fruit and orange with a touch of vanilla; and Savage Spice, milk chocolate with a blend of spices swirled into marshmallow.
Then there’s Cool Congo, dark chocolate ganache with mint; milk chocolate Buttery Caramel with Banana; Dark Cherry with vanilla jam; Berry Fierce, white chocolate bursting with berry flavor with creamy yogurt; and Rum Rampage, bittersweet dark chocolate with rum and tropical flavors.
Rounding out the collection are white chocolate Sweet Stampede, tasting of freshly baked sugar cookies, and Peanut Butter Purr, a blend of peanut butter and marshmallow enrobed in milk chocolate.
And in a real-life love story, Norman makes his handcrafted chocolates with his wife, Mary, the other love in his life.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.