By Alicia Helsley
Once upon a time there was a little girl who developed a love for sweets. Once she was old enough to help, her grandmother and mother brought her into the kitchen. Here she learned the recipes and techniques for the sweets she loved so much. Over time she added new recipes and began sharing these candies and confections with her friends and family during the holidays.
Years passed and she married and started her family. Eventually, she began making these candies and sweets again, and discovered she loved working with chocolate.
After reading the book One Less One More, and with much thought and prayer, she decided to step out in faith and start a chocolate business.
That little girl was me, Alicia Helsley, and the business is Cocoaphilia … handcrafted artisan chocolates and candies.
Cocoaphilia is defined as the appreciation of chocolate, and I truly appreciate all things chocolate. I love the thrill of discovering new flavor profiles—what works together and what doesn’t—and I love the look on people’s faces when they try my creations for the first time. It is one of pure delight, pure enjoyment, of … cocoaphilia.
Running a business from home has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m also a homeschool mom, so I don’t have to worry about getting the kids back and forth to school. On the other hand, I have to work around lessons, housekeeping, and all those little things that might demand my attention. When homeschooling my children, I try to get the lessons done by noon. Then while the kids are having their free time, I work on chocolates or chores. My children are nine and seven and don’t need my undivided attention at all times. In addition, I’m training them to help with some of the housework.
I’m probably like a lot of homeschool moms who start a business. I wanted to help support our family, but I also love what I do and the creative aspect of it. My mom once mentioned that she had hoped I would get her “sewing gene,” but it skipped over me. I got the “baking gene” instead. And with chocolate, if it doesn’t turn out perfect, you can eat the mistakes.
Granted, not every day is perfect. There have been those last minute large orders that made me want to cry. I ended up asking myself, “Why did I say yes?” But then I receive an email from the bride saying how much everyone loved the truffles and I understand why it was all worth it.
Some of the flavors featured at Cocoaphilia are Double Chocolate Truffle, a chocolate truffle in a dark chocolate shell; Cherry Chipotle; the Aztec, which includes the flavors of cinnamon and cayenne; Peanut Butter Truffle; Dulce de Leche, as well as others. We have flavors that are only available during the holiday season, but our classic flavors are always around.
I’m always working on new flavors as well; my husband has suggested a couple of flavor profiles also. A new favorite is the Salted Caramel, a chocolate and caramel truffle with a hint of fleur de sel salt. It’s dipped in dark chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of fleur de sel and a piece of caramel “glass.” You will have dreams about this truffle once you try it, and I’m not just saying that because I make it.
In addition to truffles, I also make other candies. There’s the Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Peel—when people try this for the first time, they can’t believe it is orange peel. And there are Vanilla Caramels and Lavender Honey Fleur de Sel Caramels. These caramels have to be tasted to be experienced; I promise, it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. We also have English Toffee, Pecan Turtles, and Chocolate Covered Cherries.
I enjoy working with clients on events to create chocolates their guests won’t soon forget. Our most recent event was a Christmas party hosted by a local law firm. I also love working with brides to create flavor profiles for their weddings, bridal showers, or rehearsal dinners. I’ve also worked with those in business who like to give gifts to their clients, to create gift baskets, or are looking for an addition to a gift basket.
Our plans for the future include a food truck in our area, serving our chocolates and possibly coffees, wine, or both. We are excited about that and are doing the research we need to do now to be ready when we reach that point.
Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my husband and children. When I told my husband I was starting the business, he gave me that look that said, “You finally figured that out?” Needless to say, he supports my dream and I call him my Chief Marketing Officer because he’s never met a stranger and can talk to anyone. Our children are my chief taste testers. I often have to hide the chocolates from them to keep them from sneaking too many. I look forward to having them work with me as they get older, learning at my side like I did as a child with my mother and grandma, and hopefully turning the business over to them someday.
You can find us on Twitter, Facebook.
We would love to create some chocolates for you to savor, share, and appreciate!
Alicia Helsley lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband, Lester, and their two children, Aidan and Rori. When she’s not working with chocolate, she enjoys reading, baking, quilting, and in the summer, you’ll find the family outside at the pool. Alicia is also a homeschool mom, blogger, book reviewer, and Crew member on the TOS Review Crew.