From Our Editors
Five Things to Know About Fran’s Chocolates
Fran’s Chocolates might be a three-shop operation in the Pacific Northwest, but the chocolates dreamt up by master chocolatier Fran Bigelow have fans all over the world. Here are a few facts to nibble on.
Fran stays true to her handmade roots. Even though Fran’s now makes 18,000–20,000 caramels and 535 pounds of chocolate each day, the staff still performs much of the small-batch process by hand, from salting each caramel to hand-packaging each box.
The ingredients are top-notch. Fran’s is all about high-quality everything: fresh, local cream, high-quality imported chocolate from Europe and South America, and dark and milk chocolate blended to her exact specs.
The Obamas made the salted caramels an official White House parting gift. When White House guests walk out the door, they leave with a small blue box bearing both the presidential seal and Fran’s chocolate-covered salted caramels. As Seattle businesswoman Cynthia Stroum (who turned the couple onto the caramels) told the Seattle Post-Inteligencer, “[President Obama] doesn’t like to share them.”
It’s hard to find space in Fran’s trophy case. In 1996, she was named Best Chocolatier in America; in 2007 her dark hot chocolate won the Specialty Food Association’s award for Outstanding Hot Beverage, and in 2013 the Northwest Chocolate Festival awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Fran didn’t originally focus on chocolates. In fact, when she first opened her shop in 1982, she mainly sold pastries and cakes. When she began giving truffles to customers waiting in line, she inadvertently created a hit, leading her to eventually build her entire business around chocolate.