When Erin Whitcomb, the owner of Fix Chocolate, found out she was pregnant, she wanted a creative way to make the announcement to her family. So she invited them to a restaurant for a meal, gave everyone a chocolate globe they could crack open for dessert, and there was a note inside, letting them know they could expect a new family member in 2016.
“I love surprises,” said Whitcomb. “How many great surprises do we get in life? And usually the surprises that we get as adults are not so great.”
Whitcomb is chef and founder of Front Porch Pops, a shop and catering company that sells handcrafted popsicles, and Treatery, which focuses on her non-popsicle treats, including salty dog tartlettes and popcorn with sprinkles.
Several years ago, she became interested in chocolate, and she studied under Stéphane Tréand of ST Pâtisserie Chocolat in Costa Mesa. She fell in love with the challenge of it.
“People say that chocolate is finicky, and it’s tricky to work with, but like anything else, if you practice it every day like a craft, you will find the art in it,” Whitcomb said.
The Front Porch Pops store in the 4th Street Market in Santa Ana is being re-branded to Fix Chocolate (though their popular popsicles will still be available for purchase there), and Fix Chocolate had its grand opening over Thanksgiving weekend.
In the display case in front of the store, there are small, hand-painted chocolate bonbons with flavors that range from pumpkin caramel ganache and chai tigers to white chocolate mimosa and dark chocolate lavender.
But the main event is the chocolate globes, made of top-quality Valrhona chocolate from France, which Whitcomb traces back to the day of their giddy anticipation of her birth announcement.
Now they come in different designs.
For the holidays, there are forest green and crimson globes that look like Christmas ornaments. There are globes inspired by street art, pink flamingos, luchadores and oranges (a nod to Orange County).
There’s even a group version available in store, where the chocolate globe comes in the size of a basketball and customers crack it open together like a pinata.
And the surprise edible candy and sprinkle mixture inside — that range from mini earl grey lavender marshmallows and caramel corns made in house, to custom blends made by Sweets Indeed of Covina — vary, depending on the theme of the globe.
“It looks so pretty that you almost don’t want to eat it, but there's also this satisfaction of taking something beautiful and perfect and smashing it,” said Whitcomb.
While Front Porch Pops and Treatery are local, Whitcomb has big plans for Fix Chocolate. She hopes to get the chocolate globes on store shelves nationwide by this time next year.
Back in 2011, when the former event planner decided to change her career path, Whitcomb says she just wanted to bring joy in the world. She remembered popsicles making her happy as a kid, so she started there.
Now that she has expanded to chocolate, she remembers her late mother telling her that if you’re going to eat chocolate, eat really good chocolate.
“So if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right,” said Whitcomb. “When I come up with a new design for chocolate, it’s magical … I might have this vision of how I want it to turn out, but even I don’t know how it’s going to be until I unmold it — and then I get the same surprise that people get when they crack open the globes. It’s just such a fun thing.”