Apronomics: Meggie Mobley of Bijoux Handcrafted Chocolates
With the French word for jewel in the name, you can expect the hand-painted treats at Bijoux Handcrafted Chocolates to be beautiful. But with flavors inspired by desserts like tiramisu and pumpkin pie and cocktails like Manhattans and Bellinis, there is much more than aesthetics on offer. “At the end of the day, I just go with what flavors sound good; there’s a lot of trial and error,” owner Meggie Mobley says. Originally a farmers market vendor, she opened her shop in Des Peres early this summer, and a global pandemic hasn’t slowed her down.
Mobley grew up in St. Charles, but she considers herself a true StL native. “When I was a kid, I would only eat Imo’s pizza; I hated every other kind,” she jokes. “That’s pretty born-and-bred St. Louis.” While she always enjoyed cooking with her parents, it wasn’t until she was in high school that her interest in baking was sparked by her aunt. “She worked as a cake decorator and would bring over extra icing colors, so they wouldn’t go to waste,” she recalls. “She showed me how to pipe and make icing flowers. That’s how I got started.”
After graduating from Mizzou with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, Mobley’s next step was The French Pastry School in Chicago. “It was a totally different experience than St. Louis,” she says. “I didn’t have a car, and I rode the L everyday. There’s a lot of great food here, but Chicago is just on a bigger scale.” During the program, she worked with a variety of culinary institutions, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to high-end patisseries to industrial kitchens. She enjoyed the experience of a larger city but always knew she wanted to bring the lessons she learned back home.
Mobley’s original goal was to open her own bakery, but while studying in Chicago, she discovered that her true passion was chocolate. “For a lot of people, the appeal is probably in eating it, and that’s certainly part of it, but I also love the science behind it,” she notes. “It’s the perfect marriage of thecreative and the technical. If you’re just one or two degrees off, it can ruin everything, but I like having set rules. If a recipe works, I understand why it works and know it will work again.”
When Mobley returned to St. Louis, she found herself a little uncertain of her next steps. “A lot of the chocolate shops here are small and locally owned, which is awesome, but they don’t always have job opportunities,” she says. She got a job with Rick Jordan Chocolatier in Chesterfield, but she knew she eventually needed to branch out on her own. She started working out of her home but had few options for where to sell her products. Her parents found the perfect solution: the Lake Saint Louis Farmers and Artists Market. “It’s close to where they live, so they could help on the weekends,” she says. “The answer just sort of fell in my lap.”
Last October, Mobley took an exciting step forward and rented a space for a brick-and-mortar shop. “I was hoping to be ready to open for Christmas, but I really didn’t know what I was doing when it came to getting things in order,” she says. Plus, she had another important milestone to prepare for in January: her wedding in Forest Park. The anticipated opening for Bijoux Handcrafted Chocolates was shifted to April, but COVID-19 threw another wrench in things. “We got back from our honeymoon in Germany March 3, and a week later its borders closed,” she recalls.
Mobley decided to push forward and was ready to open Bijoux’s doors in June. “It was nerve-wracking, but we had the space and were paying rent anyway,” she says, adding that the shop has been successful even with pandemic-related restrictions. “The reception has been better than I ever could have anticipated. This is my dream, and I’m looking forward to bringing some really classy chocolates to St. Louis.”
1 lb. butter
18.5 oz. light brown sugar
3 oz. honey
16 oz. chocolate
1. Melt butter and honey on medium-low heat.
2. Add brown sugar. To prevent sugar from burning, stir so it is fully coated.
3. Bring to medium-high heat and add candy thermometer.
4. Stir occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn, bring to 300°F (hard crack).
5. Carefully pour toffee onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
6. Let toffee cool completely.
7. Melt 12 oz. chocolate with a double broiler or in the microwave in 30-second intervals at 30% power, stirring in between intervals.
8. Once chocolate has heated to 115 to 120°F, slowly add the remaining chocolate and stir vigorously until it cools down to 84 to 86°F.
9. Pour half the chocolate onto the toffee, spread with spatula, and let it dry.
10. Carefully flip toffee and spread remaining chocolate onto the other side. Sprinkle with sea salt and let set.
11. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months. Enjoy!
Photos: Bill Barrett
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