The name Blue Frog Chocolates (5707 Magazine St., 269-5707; www.blue-frogchocolates.com) is more than just a shout-out to colorful amphibians. Owners Ann and Rick Streiffer took it from the Aztec legend of Xocolatl, the god of delight who appeared as a blue frog and revealed the sun god's chocolate secrets to humans. As punishment, the sun god melts any chocolate left in its presence.
Ann quickly learned to accommodate the sun's wrath when dealing with chocolate. "The hotter it gets, the quicker we ship," she says. "We started the shop in August of 2000 and, of course, we learned you don't open a chocolate shop in New Orleans during the summer. We had a power loss a few weeks in. We later learned, but we saved all the chocolate."
As chocolatier neophytes, the couple began by experimenting with white chocolate lemon bars. "It took us a while to get it where it is," she says. "We adapted, learned and found recipes that we liked and made it happen. And we're still doing that. People come in now and order pounds of it."
The business has expanded steadily to include custom services and a large assortment of products. "We started with just a variety of things we brought in," Ann says. "We've evolved from providing other folks' (products) into ... production and making more and more of our wonderful confections (in house)."
Patrons will find traditional treats like truffles, pralines, bonbons and malted milk balls, as well as many unexpected goodies that reflect the city's distinct character and palate, including cayenne Cajun chocolate bites, alligator- and seafood-shaped chocolates, and chocolate-covered Zapp's Cajun Crawtators.
"Our New Orleans items are probably what drive tourist business," Ann says. "We have our red beans and rice. The rice is white chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and the beans are maroon-colored milkies (milk chocolate in a candy shell). It's a wonderful wedding, party or Mardi Gras ball favor."
Items like Zesty Mayan icy hot chocolate and chocolate-covered gummy bears are less tied to the region and more about pushing the confectionery envelope.
"On a whim, we decided we need- ed to make a chocolate pizza," Ann says. "It's topped with coconut, milkies, nuts, candies and chocolates. It comes in a real pizza box and is a great centerpiece."
Handmade in Sulmona, Italy, candy flowers are a popular choice for centerpieces. "They look like porcelain and they are filled with chocolate, licorice, or chocolate almonds," Ann says. "We are the only ones who import them into the United States as far as we know."
These edible flowers can be formed into bouquets, which range in price from $20 to $56, or arrangements, $56 to $100. "We can make them into boutonnieres or wedding bouquets," Ann says. "It's really unique and unusual. But don't throw it, because it can hurt someone."