Norcross chocolate shop owner ready for Valentine's Day

Shortly after two women entered Chamberlain's Gourmet Chocolatier in Norcross, they were offered chocolate-covered strawberries by Anne Stroer, the shop's owner. Though they seemed surprised, the customers gladly accepted the sweets.

"We always sample out chocolates," Stroer said. "Anybody who comes to the store gets a taste of something."

Chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate roses on stems are among the bestsellers for Valentine's Day.

Customers will also be buying the shop's signature chocolate truffles, which are decorated hand-cut squares filled with ganache.

"They're richer than just a normal chocolate. They're a little bit denser. It's almost like eating icing - good icing," Stroer said.

For its candies, the company uses a Swiss-formula chocolate. "A chocolatier takes that chocolate and incorporates it into fresh candy," Stroer said. "We make our ganache, our toffee and our caramels."

With help from her family members and customers, Stroer is always adding new candies to the shop's stock. She's willing to try covering almost anything in chocolate.

"Usually, if somebody's got an idea, it's something that will work," Stroer said.

When her 12-year-old daughter wanted to take chocolate-covered gummy bears to school, Stroer made some. She also offered them to customers.

"They were a huge hit. People loved them. We'll have them for Valentine's Day," Stroer said.

At Chamberlain's, Stroer wants customers to be able to watch the candy-making process. The shop's enrobing machine, which is used to coat candies in chocolate, sits in the center of the store.

"We want to have it out so people really get a sense of what's going on," Stroer said.

She is the fourth owner of the chocolate business, which was founded 20 years ago. Stroer, who bought the company four years ago, moved the business from a warehouse location to the Norcross shopping center where it's now located.

Before she went into the chocolate business, Stroer worked as a financial analyst. She gave up her office job because she wanted to spend more time with her children. Though her hours at the chocolate shop are often long, she doesn't regret her decision.

"The nice thing is that my kids are involved in the business and they've learned a lot," Stroer said.

More info

•Chamberlain's Gourmet Chocolatier is located in Suite D at 6365 Spalding Drive in Norcross. The shopping center sits at the corner of Holcomb Bridge Road and Spalding Drive. Call 678-728-0100 or visit www.wearesweet.com.

Other Chocolate Gifts

•Flippin' Fudge: This sweet product line, with a name inspired by "Napoleon Dynamite," features eight dark chocolate flavors, ranging from the Skippy's Surprise chocolate and peanut butter to the Wake-Up Call espresso. The company is based in Canton.

The fudge comes in 1-inch cubes that are wrapped in foil. For Valentine's Day, a 16-piece box that includes a variety of flavors is available for $25. Call 1-866-423-8343 or visit www.flippinfudge.com.

•Ice cream cake: During February, which is National Chocolate Month, Baskin Robbins is offering six different varieties of chocolate ice cream cake. The Chocolate Lovers' Cake features chocolate frosting, chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate fudge, chocolate shavings and two chocolate hearts on top.

Other flavors include Swiss Chocolate Treasure, the Chocolate Temptation and Love Potion No. 31.

Prices vary depending on the size, flavor and design of the cake chosen. To order a cake, call your local Baskin Robbins store at least 24 hours in advance. Visit www.baskinsrobbins.com.