“Tasting the Sweet Life”
Albert Kirchmayr lives the sweet life each day. As a chocolatier, he has about 10,000 mouths to fill – those of his loyal, chocolate-savoring customers, who always return for more. And this maker of fine European-style chocolates happily obliges.
Kirchmayr describes his cozy, Timonium-based chocolate-making facility as a “totally different atmosphere,” one that can’t be compared with those of mega-mass-producers of brand-name chocolates found in supermarkets, malls or candy stores. That’s not the type of chocolate A. Kirchmayr Chocolatier’s reputation is built upon.
Kirchmayr points out that his business is not simply “candy making.” He refers to his specialized skill as a science which he practices daily in a small factory occupying the back room of his storefront. Chocolates, Kirchmayr explains, are made either from the outside in or inside out. State-of-the-art computerized equipment complements the personalized handwork of a three-person team responsible for the production process. A double-chamber machine mixes and heats chocolate in one chamber and fillings in the other. When the chocolate is ready, assistants create from the outside in by hand pouring melted chocolate into molds. They allow the substance to harden and then scrape any excess from the molds before adding fillings. Once fillings are added, another layer of chocolate tops the molds to create the bottoms of each candy. Working from the inside out, assistants first prepare various fillings on a frame. When filling set, they are cut into pieces and enrobed as they pass through a liquid curtain of chocolate.
The difference in Kirchmayr’s chocolates lies not only in his scaled-down work environs, but also in his products’ ingredients. “Chocolate is very clean,” says Kirchmayr, explaining that his products contain only essential ingredients, most of which are imported from Europe. “The base is sugar in brand-name chocolates. For us, the base is butter, cream, cocoa.” He adds, “The only sugar we use is in our caramel.” Another ingredient that sets his chocolates apart from the rest is liqueur, something that he notes “doesn’t appeal to all,” particularly those accustomed to American-made chocolate. He cautions that the sugar-laden chocolate produced in our country also comes with chemical preservatives, additives and coloring agents – modifications not found in fine European chocolate. “For European chocolates, we use liqueurs as preservatives, but they also add contrast to flavor. It’s a very European thing that breaks the sweetness.”
Working as a chef in Germany and other countries before arriving in Baltimore, Kirchmayr studied chocolate making while in Switzerland. He worked as a chef in Baltimore for seven years, then opened the doors of his European-style chocolate-making business on North Charles Street during the 1980s. “Pastries and sweets were always an interest of mine,” says Kirchmayr.
In 2000, Kirchmayr relocated his business from North Charles Street to Deereco Road due to space limitations. Thinking back on the steady growth of his business, Kirchmayr says, “Eighteen years ago, a market [for European-style chocolates] didn’t exist. I had to create it.” He adds, “I don’t know how I had the nerve to do it. I felt there was a niche. Godiva, back then, was probably the most well-known.” Even today, Kirchmayr’s competition is sparse. Locally, he says he can think of only two competitors who have an extensive, established line of fine chocolates that keeps them going.
He doesn’t think too much about competition, he says, because there is no comparison between his kind of chocolate making and mass-produced chocolate. “It’s just like with import beer,” Kirchmayr says. ”The Guy who drinks an import won’t drink a Bud Light.”
Open the door to Kirchmayr’s store and you’ll understand why there’s no comparison – it’s like entering the gates of chocolate heaven. The tantalizing aroma from a fresh-mixed batch of chocolate induces euphoria. Dozens of chocolates, truffles and other specialties are displayed in the modern store.
9630 Deereco Road, Timonium MD 21093 tel 410-561-7705