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Delysia Chocolatier Blends Expert Techniques with Unique Ingredients

Nicole Patel of Delysia Chocolatier is changing the design of chocolates one truffle at a time

Nicole Patel was preparing for the birth of her first child and cross-stitching Winnie the Pooh items for his nursery while watching cooking shows. One episode happened to be about chocolate truffles, and the then-engineer thought it would be easier to make holiday gifts instead of shopping.

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“I liked the technical side of it — the challenge of if the chocolate is not just tempered and the ratio of cream to the chocolate and the other ingredients wasn’t perfect, then the chocolate wasn’t going to set,” Patel remembers. “It really played into my engineering mindset.”

Austin flavors and places often inspire Delysia’s chocolates.

Patel sent her husband to work with what she describes as “the ugliest chocolate truffles and the ugliest packaging ever,” but the holiday gifts were a major hit, so she kept making them. It wasn’t until two years later during a trip to Becker Vineyards, where she had the idea to infuse truffles with Hill Country wine, that she thought chocolate might be more than just a hobby. After partnering with Salt Lick and incorporating their dry rubs and barbecue sauces into truffles, Patel quit her engineering job and turned to chocolate full time. And once she did that, she fully embraced future experimentation.

“I think it just became a creative outlet of seeing what unique ingredients we could infuse and blend into chocolate,” she says.

Throughout the 13 years in business, Delysia Chocolatier has created some decidedly interesting flavors, including Southern collard greens with bacon, pepperoni, fried chicken and even crickets. “It tastes like peanuts!” Patel laughs. It’s not all about inventive flavors, though. Patel lovingly handcrafts each chocolate. She creates the ingredients to go inside every truffle and works with artists to design the sometimes whimsical graphics that adorn the top of every piece. Then, it takes roughly seven to 10 days to create the chocolates. There’s a melter on site to bring together all the sugar molecules. She’ll make the outer shells, place the seasonal ingredients inside, spoon the ganache and then place the top. Everything is done by hand all the way down to tying white bows on red boxes.

Patel with Andrew Zimmern in 2015 at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

It should also be noted that Patel herself doesn’t actually eat chocolate anymore after discovering it was the source of her migraines, so while she’ll taste the ingredients inside the truffles, she relies on her husband and two sons to help her make sure everything is well-balanced and pairs perfectly with the chocolate.

“I develop all of our recipes by smelling all the ingredients and paying attention to all the aromas they present,” she says.

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Smelling the chocolate is an important step in tasting chocolate, Patel explains, and a step that should never be skipped. During tastings, she walks customers through the proper way of trying artisanal chocolate. Patel recommends every customer should be “in the right frame of mind” and not rush through it. First of all, smell the chocolate truffle and see what aromas jump out. Next, take a small bite and listen to the snap it makes. Third, and this is the most important part, don’t chew the chocolate. Let it sit on your tongue and melt. Treat it like a fine glass of wine to sip and savor.

The complexity of the chocolate gets missed if you chew and swallow it quickly.”

“The complexity of chocolate gets missed if you chew and swallow it quickly. If you don’t give the chocolate the opportunity to melt and present the flavors to you, you’re missing out on that experience,” she says.

Delysia’s award-winning truffles have garnered attention all over the world, including nabbing titles from International Chocolate Salon, Taste TV, London Chocolate Festival and International Chocolate Awards, amongst others. The high-quality chocolate is sourced from beans grown in Ghana that are then processed in Germany. In addition to white, milk and dark chocolates, Patel also utilizes ruby and gold chocolate, both of which have entirely unique tastes. Ruby chocolate has a sweetened raspberry milk quality, while gold chocolate has a rich caramel palate. Pro tip: Delysia’s gold Thanksgiving turkeys are definitely not to be missed and make thoughtful hostess gifts.

The menu is always rotating with themed sweets and seasonal ingredients.

For Patel, sharing the stories and themes of her chocolate collections is her favorite part of Delysia. Every box of chocolate is dedicated to a specific theme and is made to be a conversation starter, which is why they make such wonderful presents.

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“Chocolate is a great gift, but it can be a gift for any reason, whether it’s a gift for yourself, because you had a great day or a horrible day, or a gift for a friend or family member for a special celebration. There’s always a reason to indulge,” Patel explains. “Chocolate is such a great medium to transport us to a different place, whether it’s to a memory from our childhood through flavors like peanut butter and jelly and ice cream flavored chocolates or something celebratory and exciting, like a champagne-infused chocolate. It’s not just a box of chocolate — there’s a story. It’s an experience.”