Kathleen Cowley's Enchanted Chocolates – delightful addictions
Photo by Lynn Christoffers
Attention chocolate lovers. Once you walk into Kathleen Cowley's fanciful New Moon Magick/Enchanted Chocolates shop in Oak Bluffs, or log onto her website with mouthwatering images and descriptions and even a catchy, multi-track "Enchanted Chocolates" ditty by Rob Myers, you are risking a delightful addiction to a delectable Island treat.
Although Ms. Cowley says her confections are sparked with "magick," we suspect the enchantment comes from the high quality, caring creativity, and dedication to excellence that Ms. Cowley lavishes on her products.
Always a cook who loved creating from scratch, Ms. Cowley turned out molded chocolates and almond butter crunch for family holiday treats long before going into business. Growing up in New York State, Ms. Cowley was a regular Vineyard summer visitor from the age of one. She moved here year 'round 20 years ago.
Ms. Cowley opened her New Moon Magick antique shop in 2003 then joined forces with David Hilliard of the popular Hilliard's Chocolates. She said she learned a great deal from him, and together they recreated the Hilliard's fudge recipe, which she sells seasonally. When Mr. Hilliard moved his business focus off-Island, Ms. Cowley began to concentrate on her own creations and Enchanted Chocolates was born. Today Ms. Cowley boasts her own line of delicious and unique chocolates.
"I use only 70 percent cacao chocolate," she said. "It has a great taste and healthy benefits as well."
But although essential, that luscious high quality chocolate is just a start. Other ingredients are equally high quality, and she chooses and prepares them with care. All elements are freshly homemade. She concocts her own delicately sweet caramel and butter crunch, and roasts her own almonds.
Everyone has a favorite. For confirmed pure- chocolate lovers (like this writer!) top choices are the four bars: Cranberry Day with plump red fruits or almond-rich Nutty Islander (a sweet tribute to idiosyncratic Vineyarders). Sand Bars feature the signature dark chocolate sprinkled with brown sugar sand "to conjure up a day at the beach"; Dark Vader Bar's wrapper proclaims: "May the dark force of 70% cacao chocolate be with you!" Who can resist? The generous four-ounce bars are elegantly embossed with an Island and scallop shell design; wrappers bear snippets of Vineyard lore.
Customer favorites are Ms. Cowley's Scrumptious Almond Butter Crunch and Stoner Food (a wildly over-the-top mélange of pretzel rod, caramel, chocolate, and almond butter crunch crumble).
Another top seller is Pirate Food – Ms. Cowley's brilliantly refined caramels. These mouth-watering handmade patties of fresh, tender caramel enrobed in thick chocolate with a crunchy sea salt sprinkle bear no resemblance to the usual square chunk of jaw-tiring caramel.
More treats include non-pareils, turtles, and chocolate-covered ginger. Big dark chocolate lollipops include shells, lobsters, starfish, and even mustaches. Ms. Cowley promises her Charmed Enchanted Chocolates are "charged with an added boost, specific to their intention," love, prosperity, chocolate runes – decoratively bagged and adorned.
Chocolate is the ideal gift for Valentines' Day and Ms. Cowley has been getting ready with lovely, red heart-shaped boxes packed with Almond Butter Crunch or chocolate hearts. Her gift bags of Love Spell Chocolates, hearts spiced with cinnamon and cardamom are a perfect choice. She is making truffles and on the big day itself will offer fresh, chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Even with her already popular and varied selection, Ms. Cowley loves to come up with new ideas. Inspiration comes in many ways. The arrival of her first grandson, Finnigan, moved her to create Baby Cakes: delicate vanilla wafers topped with caramel, drenched in chocolate. Next will come non-pareils with multi-colored sprinkles – Finnigan's Rainbows.
Ms. Cowley is excited about her newest treats, Chocolate Covered Cape Cod Cranberries and Chocolate Covered Almonds with Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt, items rarely made with fine 70 percent cacao chocolate. She is offering samples of Organic Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans with Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt, seeking customer feedback.
Although Islanders and summer visitors are big fans, they are not the only ones to have discovered the magic of Enchanted Chocolates. Ms. Cowley has shipped her confections to nearly every state in this country, to Switzerland, Britain, and recently sent her Keep it Real Hot Chocolate to New South Wales.
The intriguing shop at 4 Chapman Avenue in Oak Bluffs features a wide selection of chocolates and plenty of samples. These are interspersed with vintage jewelry tempting as the chocolate itself, vintage linens, English ironstone, antique prints and postcards, and more, including Ms. Cowley's own botanicals. Chocolates are available at Cronig's, Alley's, for holidays at Morrice Florist, and at the West Tisbury Farmers' Market, where her sons help out while Ms. Cowley is busy in the chocolate kitchen making more.
More local chocolates:
Chilmark Chocolates – 19 State Rd., Chilmark, 508-645-3013
Good Ship Lollipop – 61 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs – 508-693-0326
Murdick's Fudge – stores are closed for the season but order online at murdicks.com
Not Your Sugar Mamas – Tisbury Market Place, Vineyard Haven, 508-834-7305, notyoursugarmamas.com
Patti Linn's Linnsational Chocolates – 508-693-9703
State Road Restaurant – 688 State Road, West Tisbury, 508-693-8582, stateroadrestaurant.com
Val Cakes – 508-274-0396, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vineyard Sweets – 508-274-3860, email@example.com