When Erika and John Aylward started working on the recipes for Peppalo Stone Ground Chocolate five years ago they just wanted to try making something different and delicious to them. Then a Google search led a Wall Street Journal writer to Boulevard Market and the Aylwards, and suddenly their chocolate has become a nationwide sensation.
“Five years ago we started messing with it,” said Erika.
After a phone conversation with Erika, and an express shipment of chocolate bars for a photo shoot, the story went to press on Tuesday, Jan. 13. Almost immediately, Peppalo requests started pouring in through the Boulevard Market website.
Erika frantically contacted her daughter in Shanghai, China, for help updating the Boulevard Market website. The next few days were a blur of chocolate making and prep for shipping.
“Just to see our chocolate bar in the Wall Street Journal was crazy,” Erika said.
Before the article was released, Peppalo bars were sold locally with some chocolate shipped around the country to people craving the unique stone-ground chocolate experience.
The Aylwards were inspired to try making chocolate after a trip to Sicily. After experiencing a chocolate process that went back to the 1500s in Spain, Erika and John decided to try the process in Tecumseh.
Cocoa beans for Peppalo come from the Dominican Republic. According to Erika, cocoa grows as a bean, but is more like a nut than a bean. Different beans have different flavors.
“The beans themselves are like eating a raw pea,” she said.
The beans grow in a pod, and are removed and allowed to ferment before traveling to Boulevard Market. John roasts the beans and then runs the roasted bean through rollers.
A grinder pushes out the cocoa butter from the roasted beans, and the resulting liquor is heated. After removing it from the heat, sugar is added and the chocolate is tempered.
“Tempering creates a shiny bar and gives it a snap,” said Erika.