Showing love with candy

Leopold Schreiber, owner of Chocolates by Leopold in Montrose, punctuates his ‘love’ bars with a perfect heart. STAFF PHOTO/MATT VINE

Chocolates by Leopold booms on Valentine’s Day

BY MATT VINE

Nothing says love quite like chocolates.

At the Chocolates by Leopold factory in Montrose, workers have been busy for months making all sorts of confections to fill the many heart-shaped boxes that will delight a lot of folks.

“Chocolates are elegant gifts to give to someone you love,” production manager Tom Follert said.

He should know.

The chocolate factory goes through 20,000 pounds of chocolate in a year.

The real brains behind the business, however, is Leopold Schreiber, who is the general manager and has been a master confectioner for 19 years.

He is a fourth generation German maker of chocolate.

“Presentation and taste are the keys to have a good quality piece of chocolate,” Schreiber said. “What sets our shop apart from Hershey’s and Gertrude Hawk is that everything is handmade and uses less sugar than most chocolates.”

Schreiber started when he was 12 years old at a little candy shop in Binghamton, N.Y. His older brother and he would frequent there often to sample the chocolates.

It wasn’t until his brother was working at the shop during an Easter production season, that he also got the opportunity to help take the chocolate bunnies out of their molds.

“I worked a few hours after school each day learning everything that I could with making chocolates,” Schreiber said.

It wasn’t until 1997, however, that he decided to expand his passion and open a factory and a candy shop of his own in Binghamton.

Then in 2005, he wanted to move his business to a different location due to the higher cost of living in upstate New York.

“When I moved here to Montrose, I felt like it was a great town and the residents were friendly,” Schreiber said.

The processes of making any chocolate confection starts with breaking huge pieces of chocolate and melting it at a temperature of 100°F to 105°F.

“The reason why is that we want to melt the chocolate so that it doesn’t burn and lose its color,” Schreiber said. “We add a little bit of sugar and milk fat to sweeten the taste.”

Once the chocolate is mixed through, then it goes to a temper machine which cools the chocolate to a temperature of   88°F. Then the chocolate will be poured into molds which also might have a layer of cocoa butter.

“We let the chocolate harden in a cold room for a half hour to 45 minutes,” Schreiber said. “Once the chocolate is hardened, it is taken out of their molds and put on a table for detailing and packaging.

Scheriber can create many assortments of chocolates.

His signature candy is buttercrunch, a century old German butter toffee recipe handed down from master confectioner to master confectioner.

But, he is also into truffles and cherry cordials.

“Our chocolate making season begins early fall and will be busy till late spring,” Schreiber said. “It is like a roller coaster ride, once one holiday is done, we move right into the next holiday.”

Follert said that among the most popular chocolates are peanut butter hearts.

“We want to give the public a sample of our best and most popular types of chocolates that we make in our factory every year,” Follert said.

Michelle Depue, Business Director of Chocolates by Leopold, holds up a vase filled with chocolates that anyone can get at the factory in Montrose. STAFF PHOTO/MATT VINE

And he pointed to a plethora of heart-shaped boxes that are customizable to just about any passion.

Follert noted the factory also sells stout caramel hearts, which just might be the factory’s most unique item.

“It is infused with a local microbrew and has hints of cherry and caramel,” he said.

And he noted that a day before Valentine’s Day, the factory would be making chocolate covered strawberries by request.

Michele Depue, Business Director of Chocolates by Leopold, said that the reason why chocolates are so popular during Valentine’s Day was that chocolates are a stimulant for a person and make them feel happy.

“As long as people eat chocolate in moderation, it can be a good for a person’s metabolism,” Depue said.

Prices range from $2.50 for a small piece to $35 for a large Heart shaped box assortment.

“The larger the box, the more money it’s going to be.” she smiled.

For more info, phone 278-1230 or check out www.chocolatesbyleopold.com