Chocolatiers in America: Lillie Belle Farms

Goodlifer: Chocolatiers in America: Lillie Belle Farms

I have been writing about chocolate for a long time, so asking me who’s the best chocolatier in America is a little like asking which of the five senses is my favorite; how can you expect me to choose just one? The mere mention of this subject is enough to raise the hackles of even the calmest chocolate fanatic. Many people cling tenaciously to the products of one chocolatier or another, vowing that nobody makes better truffles/chocolate bars/hot chocolate. I’m advocating chocolate diversity, and will therefore approach the matter a little differently, offering up a series of features on chocolatiers who offer what I think are exceptional products. You’ll find producers who specialize in cutting-edge flavors, and others that prefer to concentrate on classic combinations. I hope you’ll discover something you haven’t encountered before, whether it’s a new flavor combination that make your taste buds dance, a chocolatier you did not know of or a new product made by an old favorite of yours.

Jeff Shepherd of

Jeff Shepherd of Lillie Belle Farms, working the grounds.

Jeff Shepherd of Lillie Belle Farms is a complicated guy. He’s part hippie (if there’s anyone alive who can listen to more Jerry Garcia, I don’t even want to know about them), part alchemist, part artist, and part chocolatier. He never stops coming up with new (and sometimes revolutionary) concepts in chocolates. The Smoky Blue Cheese Truffles he developed are one of his best-selling items, for instance. And how about those beautiful Strawberry Passion Fruit Buttercups? Homegrown organic strawberries (Jeff and his family grow them) are blended with passion fruit and butter; this mixture is then used to fill a chocolate cup. I am unapologetically partial to his Raspberry Cordials. Raspberry preserves (again, from organic, homegrown raspberries) are made at the store, then piped into a dark chocolate, butterfly-shaped shell. Add these three to his ever-popular Lavender Caramels, his Wild Thing Chocolate Bar, and his entirely-edible chocolate “paintings”, and you’ll realize that this man is serious about his chocolates, yet never takes them too seriously.

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Smokey Blue Cheese Truffle (made with Rogue Creamery’s smokey blue cheese), Cayenne Caramel (hot and award-winning) & Dark Star (made with a 74% dark Gran Cru chocolate).

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Coffee Bean Ganache (made with hand-picked fresh-roasted coffee beans), Black Pepper Ganache & Hazelnut Chew (made with toasted Oregon hazelnuts).

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Raspberry Cordial (made with organic homemade raspberry preserve), Raspberry Ganache (made with organic strawberries) & Strawberry Passion Fruit Buttercup (organic strawberries and passion fruit blended with fresh Oregon butter).

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Chipotle Ganache (smoky, hot sweetness), Fresh Mint Ganache (made with fresh mint from the farm) & Lavender Caramel (lavender infused with Fleur du Sel salt).

Lillie Belle Farms has been certified organic, from the farm where the berries are grown to the chocolate used to make the confections. In the interest of full disclosure, I met Jeff through his chocolates, but we also know each other semi-socially. Periodically, I go out to his place and make chocolates with him for a couple of weeks at a time as a volunteer. I always have a blast, and he can tolerate the fact that I’ve no idea what I’m doing. Most items can be mail-ordered, and online ordering is available (a few things are too delicate or short-lived, and those are available in-store only). Jeff’s sole boutique is at 211 North Front Street in Central Point, Oregon, but his chocolates are sold in a respectable number of stores throughout the US. The boutique is conveniently located almost next door to Rogue Creamery, makers of some mighty fine blue (and other) cheeses.

Enjoy, stay tuned, and we’ll take you on a journey to discover more small-scale, gourmet Chocolatiers in America.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. you know i’ll be following this religiously! i heart chocolate and it hearts me.

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