Wow Cacao

House-roasted chocolate at Ethereal Confections in Woodstock

A small storefront in Woodstock, Illinois is creating some of the area's most innovative chocolate.

We're not talking flavors, but production: Sisters-in-law Sara and Mary Ervin are roasting, winnowing and grinding cacao beans to make bean-to-bar chocolate at Ethereal Confections.

The two-year-old company began experimenting with chocolate-making in 2012.

"We wanted to have more control over what chocolate we were using and how we can make it taste," explains Sara. Roasting the beans is the trickiest part of the process; the duo's education was cobbled together from Internet research and "lots of trial and error," she adds.

Tempering chocolate | Nom Noms (Photos: Tasha Schalk of Redwall Studio)

Beans sourced from Ecuador, Belize and Madagascar become Nom Noms ($5.50; available at Plum Market and Whole Foods, or online)–bites of nut butter (hazelnut, almond or peanut) swathed in chocolate.

They're stockpiling the rest of the chocolate in 25-pound blocks. "The flavors in chocolate change a lot in the first month, so we age our chocolate before using it," Sara says.

A line of chocolate bars should launch in mid-October. For now, go to Ethereal's Woodstock café for a taste: Order a cup of locally roasted coffee, which comes accompanied by a square of the house-made stuff.

Ethereal's Woodstock, IL café (Photo: Tasha Schalk of Redwall Studio)