If you walk up and down Parc, you might pass a sign that reads Chocolats Andrée, written in letters like filigree. The shop is cozy, tucked snugly between buildings.
Humble in appearance, but grand in history, Chocolats Andrée is a small business that has been around since the ‘40s, owned in its lifetime by three generations of women. The current owner is Stéphanie Saint-Denis, granddaughter of the original owner, her grandmother Madeleine Daigneault.
To step into the shop, is to enter the ‘40s. To plop Chocolats Andrée chocolate in your mouth, is to taste the ‘40s. According to Stéphanie, the fashioning of each little chocolate has not been altered ever since the shop opened its doors, 75 years ago.
Made with only natural ingredients, each chocolate bite is meticulously crafted by hand in the backroom of the shop. With its 40 different kinds of chocolate, the shop is a door to heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. You can get a box of 38 pieces if you wish to bring home most of the shop’s delicacies.
The customer’s favorites are candied Orange Peels, the Praline, the Truffle, the Treasure Cherry and the Honey Nougat, all of which are hugged in a delicious dark chocolate coating. And of course, keep in mind the Caramel au Miel (not coated in chocolate), another darling of the customers.
The shop also fashions chocolate bars. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts and once again, my personal favorite, candied orange peel chocolate bars are some of the options.
The Tire Sainte-Catherine is however this season’s must-have. Due to the fact that there aren’t any artificial preservatives in the soft candy, the Tire Sainte-Catherine is not produced throughout the whole year. The weather outside needs to be crispy cold, which is why the candy is only made from October up until Christmas, and then again in January. So hurry up and get your batch!
The secret behind Chocolats Andrée’s success rests in the shop’s authenticity. For example, chocolates are kept in at room temperature, which gives them their glistening appearance.
“You can recognize a quality chocolate by its shine,” says Stéphanie. “You’ve seen the chocolates at the counter, they’re all glistening.” She smiles, proud of her little wonders.
Two ovens from the ‘40s, once Madeleine’s, are the magical tools behind the confectioning of quality cream-fillings and exquisite caramel.
“When we create the cream-fillings,” says Stéphanie, “the cream has to be a little hard, or else we can’t work with it. So for example, with the maple cream, we need to boil the sauce to a certain degree, and then pour it in forms molded in starch. Once the cream is hard enough, we hand dip them in the chocolate. With time, and through its contact with the chocolate, the maple cream will slowly turn soft again. So when we make cream-fillings, we don’t sell them the same day. It takes one week, one week and a half, for cream-filled chocolates to be ready. So when bought, our chocolates can stay good to eat for up to three weeks.”
Before I left the shop, I asked Stéphanie about her grandmother, Madeleine. She laughed, smiled.
“What I admire the most from my grandmother is her resilience and her courage. What has always impressed me, is the thought of women like my grandmother in the ‘40s, having thrown themselves in such a business. I know they had to work to support their family, which is why grandma and Aunt Juliette started working in a chocolate shop. And then one day, they just decided to open a shop of their own. The most interesting thing about grandma is that there was a financial aspect to working in the shop, yes, but there was also passion, an urge to do something and succeed at it. I retain two things from her. The first is good customer service. The second is quality of work. There has never been one flawed chocolate.”
“Even six months before her death, she’d come to the shop and just look. She’d look at the chocolates, she’d look at the boxes. If you want to do something, do it well, she’d say. With care and passion.”
Chocolats Andrée is situated 5328 Rue Parc, and is open from Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the complete list of chocolates, go to www.chocolatsandree.com