The family has been making chocolate since 1915. The current incarnation of the company was founded in 1991, when brothers Jeff and Bill Birnn relocated from New Jersey to Vermont and made the transition from a retail candy store to a wholesale manufacturing operation that produces truffles in more than 150 varieties. Julia and Mel represent the fourth generation (and are raising the fifth) of the Birnn dynasty.
“My great-grandfather used Peter’s Chocolate for its superb taste and unmatched mouthfeel. It is why we still use it today.”
After noticing that long-time employees needed help mastering English, Julia and Mel began conducting language classes as part of their employee training. They also work in partnership with the Refugee Resettlement program to help assimilate workers which, as Julia notes, offers some unexpected benefits. “We have a wonderfully diverse group of employees and our potlucks are some of the best eating I’ve done – Vietnamese, Nepalese, and authentic Chinese are some of my favorites.”
“Thermometers and tempering machines are great tools, but you’ll often learn more from ignoring them. Instead, focus on the how the chocolate behaves as you work with it – and keep tasting.”
Recipe provided by Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
1 cup Peter’s® Burgundy® Semisweet Chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces/chips
8 oz Peter’s® Burgundy® Semisweet Chocolate chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 sticks (1 cup) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
2 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Large Eggs
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Butter and flour a 9” x 13” pan.
3. In the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the 8 ounces of 1 inch chocolate pieces and butter stirring occasionally until smooth.
4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
5. Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
6. Add the eggs and mix well.
7. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended.
8. Stir in the 1/2 inch chocolate pieces/chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
9. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
10.Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into squares.