Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings
Can you believe Easter is just around the corner? You can celebrate Easter in the traditional way with chocolate. Hide a box of Tammy's Chocolates for your friends or family, and watch them tear apart the house trying to be the one to find them. My friend Tammy has been making small production hand-made truffles from high quality ingredients for several years now, and each year has been better than the one before. Every chocolate-loving holiday has a different selection of flavors. This Easter she is offering:
- "Turtle" Bunny or Egg (larger than a normal chocolate) filled with salty caramel and toasted pecans and coated in dark chocolate.
- Raspberry - dark chocolate and raspberry
- Chai Spice - Milk chocolate with a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger wrapped in a dark chocolate shell.
- Lemon-Rosemary - White chocolate and citrus-y lemon with a hint of rosemary.
- Hazlenut Praline - dark chocolate shell surrounding a combination of toasted hazelnuts, caramelized sugar, and milk chocolate.
Tammy's Easter truffle collections will be available locally starting Tuesday, March 18 at Everyday Wine, Main Dish Kitchen, and Knight's Market. She also ships across the US and (inquire first) to Canada.
Kitchen Chick: Tell me a bit how you became a food enthusiast. You know, some people were interested in being a chef since they were little, while others have some transformative event in their lives. What's your story?
Tammy: I don't know that I have a transformative event. I've been interested in cooking and baking for as long as I can remember, and I've forged most of my best friendships around the dinner table. But when I look back at my life, I realize that I've always had an affinity for food-related businesses. When I was a kid, it was sidewalk bake sales. Later, my boyfriend and I made bread and sold it to friends and coworkers - we didn't have a car, and I remember us carrying home 20lb bags of flour on the back of his bicycle! I made apple pies and chocolate cake and sold them to a local restaurant/cafe - I realize now that my markup was ridiculously small and I was barely covering the cost of my materials, but that's what they could afford to pay and I was just so thrilled to have an opportunity to share what I had made. So I guess it's no surprise that my life path has led me back to starting a company where I can share my own creations, and also share my great passion and enthusiasm for all things "foodie."
(More in the extended post, including Tammy's chocolate recommendations!)
Kitchen Chick: How did you become interested in chocolate and making truffles?
Tammy: I've always enjoyed fine chocolates, and made a point of checking out chocolate shops wherever I would go. I was really intrigued by the new wave of unusual flavor combinations in truffles, and set out to duplicate a curry truffle I'd tried at Vosges Chocolates in Chicago. My first attempts didn't meet my exacting standards for myself, so when I saw a truffle-making class advertised at Zingerman's I signed up for it. That's when I really got the "bug" and I've been practicing and studying ever since.
Kitchen Chick: You've eaten a lot of different chocolates when searching for chocolates to use for your truffles and your chocolate tasting events. What are your current favorite chocolate(s)?
Tammy: I've been tasting a lot of chocolate recently, in order to pick out which chocolates I wanted to have on hand for tasting events. At one point, I had 51 different kinds of chocolate in the house! I've been exploring some new-to-me producers like Domori and Amedei, and been really pleased by what they're doing. My favorite eating chocolate at the moment would have to be Domori's Apurimac. It's from Peru, and it has a really unique floral/rose element that I find totally captivating. One of my go-to chocolates is Mangaro from Michel Cluizel - it's got that bright fruity acidity that's common in chocolates from Madagascar and that I love.
Kitchen Chick: Tell me about your tasting events.
Tammy: I look at tasting as a process for learning about food and what you like and, as such, it can be applied to pretty much any food item. My most popular tasting is probably the chocolate tasting, and wine tastings are classic, of course. But I've also done more esoteric events, like a tropical fruit tasting featuring fruits like dragonfruit and black sapote, and I'm always happy to work with my clients to put together something really unique. Right now I'm excited about the idea of maple syrup tastings as a way to welcome spring.
tasting event takes between 60 and 90 minutes. It can be a stand-alone
event, or part of a larger event, like a bridal or baby shower. I've
done client appreciation events for financial planners, and
Christmas parties for office staff. My approach to tasting is to be really hands-on and interactive, to get people thinking and talking about what they're tasting, while I'm there to facilitate that discussion and to provide the information that will help them put it all into context.
But there are no hard and fast rules - my favorite thing about the tasting format is that it's endlessly customizable.
Kitchen Chick: I know you've also donated truffles for local fundraising efforts, and I remember when you made your beautiful solid chocolate pumas for the U of M Museum of Natural History.
Tammy: I was really pleased in the summer to have the opportunity to help the U of M Museum of Natural History welcome back its trademark puma sculpture. I worked with a mold-maker from the museum to create a couple of custom puma molds, and from those I donated 250 puma chocolate bars as a giveaway to guests at the puma welcome home party. Even more fun was creating a filled "truffle" puma that we sold as a fundraiser for the museum, both during the puma party and this past Christmas. I've engaged with other local charities as well, donating tasting events and chocolates to the Ann Arbor Academy, Wild Swan Theater, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Leukemia Society.
520 Little Lake Dr
Ann Arbor, MI 48103