Chocolatier brings edible art to Swannanoa Valley
Before bringing her edible art, Conjure Craft Chocolate to the Swannanoa Valley, Marjory Rockwell worked as a pastry chef and managed an upscale restaurant in Connecticut.
Since arriving in Black Mountain, her chocolates are popping up in shops around the area. Rockwell is a purveyor of craft chocolates and a devotee of the new bean-to-bar movement.
Chocolatiers purchase large amounts of chocolate, melt it down, and use the liquid to make a wide assortment of treats — truffles, candy bars, ganache, fudge and even drinkable chocolate.
A bean-to-bar chocolate maker, like Rockwell, starts with raw cacao beans, roasts them, grinds them, and produces fresh chocolate that can be rendered into many products. That’s where the “conjuring” comes in.
Rockwell uses her science background as well as her training at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa to concoct chocolates that tempt the palate with unexpected flavor, such as her Smoky Mountains bar that combines her organic dark chocolate with Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey, or her Holiday Cheer chocolates that add orange zest and cranberry.
All her ingredients are ethically sourced and bought locally when possible. The wrappers are handmade almost entirely from recycled materials.
She credits her new passion to a trip in early 2018 to Kenya, where she visited a friend from the Cordon Bleu. Rockewell's friend is Kenyan and lives in Nairobi. She had just begun roasting cacao beans when Rockwell visited.
“I didn’t know how chocolate was made,” she said, but Rockwell quickly fell in love with the process and the possibilities.
She produces Conjure Craft Chocolates in the state-certified kitchen of her mother Isabel’s house in Swannanoa.
“My goal is to increase production, and I’d like to see a display of my craft chocolates at Whole Foods someday,” Rockwell said.
Right now Conjure bars are available in Black Mountain at the Dripolator, BAD Craft and in Asheville at Vendarie, with more vendors coming soon.
Rockwell was born in Richmond, Virginia, the youngest of four children. Her family moved to Connecticut when she was five.
She attended Penn State University, thinking she would go into medicine, but an aversion to blood upset those plans.
She graduated in 2007 with dual majors and minors: a B.S. in Science (minor in Biology) and a second B.S. in International Studies (minor in Spanish).
Wanderlust has taken her to 17 countries, including Canada where she discovered her love of cooking.
She moved to Black Mountain in 2018, and hopes to make the area her home and the headquarters of her craft chocolates business.