Some gourmet chocolatiers prefer to leave Halloween to the corporate candy makers specializing in Trick-or-Treat offerings. But Cindy Karrels of Fazio’s Chocolate (also known as Fazio’s Sweet Moments Sweet Life, 13425 Watertown Plank Road, Elm Grove) has a different take.
“Halloween has become a huge holiday for adults and children,” she affirms. Karrels, who co-owns Fazio’s with her husband, Mark, expanded on her successful autumn themed chocolates to create a Halloween line.
She chose cute over creepy, with seven fun, whimsical varieties like Spooktacular, a white chocolate ghost filled with milk chocolate ganache and crisp rice cereal. I’ve Got My Eye On You is a sweet, creamy red velvet ganache in a white chocolate shell. Meanwhile, Mischievous Monster, a dark chocolate and salted caramel truffle, eyes up Fazio’s Sweet Candy Corn, a vanilla bean ganache with candy corn.
When creating flavors, Karrels considers the chocolates she’s working with, what would work well inside, and the design. “That’s how it comes all together,” she says. “I was blessed with creativity that I want to share with others.”
Learning the Art of Chocolate
November marks Fazio’s 10th anniversary. Karrels’ maiden name is Fazio and she’s of Italian descent. She learned how to cook and bake from her grandmother, Laverne Fazio.
Karrels had previously worked as a flight attendant for Midwest Airlines. After they were bought out, she had to reinvent herself. “I thought about the things I love to do. My grandmother taught me her red sauce recipe. My aunt, Judy Lizzio, still cooks and bakes with us. She taught us many things—pastas, salads and lovely Christmas cookies.”
Karrels studied to be pastry chef. The instruction included a chocolate section. “That’s when I fell in love with creating chocolates. You can combine creativity and art into the chocolate.” She took chocolate classes at The French Pastry School and the Chocolate Academy, both in Chicago. She takes continuing education product classes. “That’s important because there are always different art techniques and products coming out.”
Those newer techniques were applied to the Flickering Fun Halloween candle-shaped truffle, made with a newer amber chocolate. It’s caramelized chocolate with a slight hint of sea salt, which pairs well with the dark chocolate ganache filling inside Flickering Fun.
Karrels’ first products was an artisan line honoring her great-grandparents that had immigrated though Ellis Island. The chocolates are available in a gondola-shaped gift box. Karrels’ mother, Lorraine, a nougat lover, is honored with Nona’s Nougat. The Milk Chocolate Joseph’s Macchiato was created for her father, Joseph Fazio.
Karrels strives to offer something for everyone. She crafts liqueur truffles and creative flavors for those looking for that “wow” factor. Classics include turtles, nut clutters, dipped Oreos and fairy crunch, the nostalgic crispy sponge-style candy popular throughout the Midwest.
Last year, Karrels launched a line of vegan chocolates. “My dark chocolate contains no animal byproducts like butters or heavy whipping cream, and they’re run on a separate line.” Fazio’s also has a hot cocoa mix that’s dairy-free.
For Thanksgiving, Fazio’s offers a gift boxed cornucopia filled with foiled leaves and cranberries. The artistically decorated Christmas line is influenced by Christmas songs, with chocolates like Hear the Snow Crunch and In the Frosty Air.
Working With Chocolate
Karrels uses pure Belgian chocolate. She emphasizes the science behind getting chocolate just right. “We’re working with couvertures (chocolate containing a higher percentage of cocoa butter than chocolate sold for baking or eating). It’s not chocolate that you can melt and dip. With couvertures, there are different crystals that have to come together. When it does, that’s where you get that shine and snap.” Weather and humidity also play a factor.
Karrels recommends that chocolates are stored in cool areas like basements, hallways or pantries, and not the refrigerator because it will easily pick up other smells and tastes. “And eat it at room temperature—it will be creamier,” she advises.
Fazio’s offers gift boxes, custom orders and corporate gifting. For a peek at their Thanksgiving and Christmas chocolates, check out the Holiday Open House, Nov. 11 and 12.
For more information about Fazio's Chocolates, visit: https://fazioschocolate.com/pages/flavor-guide