Behind the Scenes at One of NYC's Best Chocolate Shops
I've wanted to be a magazine editor since I was in grade school, but little me never could have imagined that hanging out in a chocolate shop would someday be a part of my job. But that's just what happened a few days ago when Stick With Me Sweets owner Susanna Yoon and her crew invited me in to see how their incredible chocolate Easter eggs come together.
I'd admired the exquisite, hand-painted chocolates on Instagram, but had never been able to make it to the shop IRL. When I got inside, it was even more charming than I expected. The place is tiny and incredibly organized. There's a glass case with rows of bonbons and this time of year, the shelves are lined with clear tubes with beautiful 3-D chocolate eggs in various patterns: dots, impressionistic swipes, and their signature multi-colored splatter.
When she opened the shop in 2014, Susanna wanted her bon bons to be like bite-size versions of Michelin-level plated desserts (she worked at Thomas Keller's Per Se). Her Calamansi Meringue Pie bon bon is a great example of that: graham cracker crust, tangy citrusy custard, and dollop of meringue—all encased in a impossibly thin chocolate shell. She also makes more playful flavors, like the New York, New York, which is filled with a peanut butter praline, pretzels, and chocolate ganache.
But back to those Easter eggs. After I was done ogling the bon bons, it was time to go into the chocolate-making room to see the magic happen. Susanna told me that chocolatier Samantha Wong (pictured below) is the "splatter master," so she took me through the egg-making process, which starts with the hand painting. To create the splatter effect, Samantha dips a stiff brush in colored cocoa butter and splatters the colors one at a time over the egg-shaped mold until the entire surface is covered. Using an airbrush, she sprays another mold blue (this will become the back of the egg).
Once the cocoa butter sets, it's time to line the shells with chocolate. Samantha heads over to the vat of chocolate (yes, it smells insanely good in there), and fills each mold. The filled molds go onto a vibrating plate to make sure there are no air bubbles in the chocolate, then the chocolate gets dumped out, leaving a chocolate shell behind.
The chocolate shells go into the fridge to chill for a few minutes until they easily release from the molds—then it's time to fill them! To keep these beauties from rocking and rolling all over, Samantha rests them on a bumpy silicone mat, then fills them with house-made malted milk balls, crispy milk chocolate beads, and a crispy cereal mixture.
Dayna Palmer, another chocolatier, warms up a small skillet until it's just hot enough to barely melt the chocolate lip on the inside of the speckled top. She very carefully rubs the chocolate in the skillet, then hands it to Samantha to stick the two halves together.
Once the chocolate sets and the egg halves are stuck together, Susanna, Samantha, and Dayna team up to put the eggs on their chocolate stands. Dayna squirts some warm chocolate on the base, Susanna puts the egg on the base and makes sure that it's straight and holds it steady while Samantha uses a quick-cooling spray to set the chocolate in seconds. When they're done, the eggs go into clear tubes and join the others out in the shop.
As impressed as I was with the level of precision, care, and art that went into these insanely beautiful (and incredibly delicious) treats, I was maybe more impressed by how Susanna seems to run her business. She was welcoming and very generous, and treated her employees as equals. When I tried to get a portrait of her in the shop, she insisted on including Samantha and Dayna. "We're the three chocolatiers," she said. A woman making amazing chocolates and also supporting other awesome ladies. Is there anything any sweeter than that?
The Easter eggs ($28 for large; $18 for small) are available in store only until Easter. You can buy bons bons via the Stick With Me Sweets website anytime.