Just beneath the deck of Philly’s famous sailboat with a reputation for a great view and bourgeois atmosphere, Sandy Valentine is working to add luxury chocolates to the Moshulu’s menu.
Valentine, a 20-year veteran of the food industry and executive pastry chef at Moshulu, is creating and selling her own handmade holiday-themed chocolates for the winter season. The festive sweets come in a number of different shapes and flavors, ranging everywhere from white chocolate Amoretto to passion fruit and even gingerbread.
Originally employed as a mechanical draftsman, Valentine said she was drawn to the food business by her mother’s love of baking.
“My mom was a great baker, that’s definitely where I got it,” Valentine said. “My grandmother was a great baker also. I didn’t like [my first career] very well, so I gave it thought to what I really wanted to do and I went back to school for this.”
While this isn’t the first year Valentine has produced artisan chocolates aboard the Moshulu, several improvements have been made to the production of the sweets since she debuted them in 2013.
“It’s hard to do chocolates in a kitchen because there’s a lot of steam and heat,” she said. “I used to come in really early in the morning before it got too hot in the kitchen. I had to keep them in the wine room, which is the perfect temperature. So I had [Moshulu] build me a chocolate room, so that I could control the temperature.”
The chocolate room built for Valentine, located in the bottom of the ship, has eased the candy-crafting process and allowed for a greater variety of flavor options. Valentine uses Valrhona for her creations, a French luxury chocolate that hails all the way from Hermitage, France. The chocolates are shaped using molds, while the ganache (a flavored filling) is cut into squares using a frame. Transfer sheets coated in cocoa butter are added towards the end of the process as well as small compliments that vary depending on the flavor.
To avoid sweating, a common problem when crafting chocolates in which moisture develops on the surface of the food due to the difference in the temperature of the chocolate versus the temperature of the air, Valentine’s chocolate room is conditioned to create the perfect environment for crafting chocolate.
With the amount of effort and expertise put into the sweets, Valentine said that the benefits come from the restaurant’s customer satisfaction.
“They love them,” she said. “We get all compliments on them.”
Aside from individual purchases of the chocolates in eight-piece boxes, some of the chocolates are used as complimentary gifts for birthdays or anniversaries. The gourmet chocolates are available for purchase via walk in at Moshulu.
Eamon Dreisbach can be reached at email@example.com