2016-12-01 / Dishing

The Candyman

Anne Quinn Corr | Photos by Matt Fern

A large bar of Valrhona chocolate sits on the stainless steel counter near the tempering machine, ready to be carved into immersible chunks. An aroma of molten chocolate wafts from the slowly rotating Chocovision Revolation commercial tempering machine, its LED read-out of the temperature in blinking red decimals. Andy Rose is in his element at the immaculate commercial kitchen of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Grays Woods.

Making his Sea Salt Caramels, Rose assembles his mise en place — the plastic mold, the thick caramel filling, piping bags, wide spatulas and ladles — with quiet deliberation before he starts. He places some of the Maldon sea salt flakes in a small bowl with reverence, his preparation almost sacramental. Once he starts, he moves quickly.

Chocolate is ladled into the mold, turned expertly to drip back into the mass, placed in the freezer for a short while, then removed and scraped to create the fragile square cups. The cups are piped with the caramel to just the right height, then more chocolate is poured on top to create the candies, which are scraped again to remove the excess and chilled briefly before they are popped out and examined for defects (‘Oh please,’ hope the onlookers, ‘let there be one with a broken seam!’), and then piped with a dot of chocolate to affix the flake of salt. Voila!

Rose hasn’t always worked in such a quiet and contemplative kitchen. The 39-year-old State College native last worked locally in the busy kitchen at the farm-to-table focused Elk Creek Café + Aleworks in Millheim, where he was the executive chef for almost three years. His other passion, besides chocolate, is bread making, and he found the saturated, yeasty atmosphere of the brewpub to be ideal for his artisan loaves. Today he still moonlights as a professional baker. This high-energy individual has learned to “play to my own strengths,” as he puts it.

Rose freely admits that he always had trouble focusing in an academic setting and found that cooking was a consolation to him while he studied at Elmira College in 1996. “Today they call it ADD,” he says wryly. “I was so easily distracted.” He decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts and transferred to New Hampshire College in 1996, earning an associate degree in 1999 in baking and pastry. While still in school he spent his weekends in Boston, working at Ambrosia on Huntingdon, then ranked as one of the top 25 restaurants in the country by Food & Wine, Zagat and Bon Appetit.

After graduation he chef’ed around New England: “It’s a great way to see the world,” says Rose, “because this is one of the industries where you can always get a job.” He spent three years at the Balsams Grand Hotel in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, making homemade croissants and Danish pastries in addition to a range of breads, rolls and desserts for the high-volume resort. Boutique restaurants in Massachusetts followed — Barker Tavern Bakery, Solstice and French Memories — before he headed west to work at the San Diego Culinary Institute as the lab assistant to executive pastry chef Yves Fournier. “I wanted to learn about California cuisine, which is all about using the best ingredients,” confides Rose. This seminal position proved to be a benchmark; he discovered that he loved teaching and working with the students on food show demonstrations and competitions.

After four or five more moves to increasingly interesting kitchens, he came home, back to Centre County. His wide range of cooking experiences provides a sound foundation for what he is doing today. “I enjoy working in chocolate. You need to understand the science behind it. And it is a product that is fairly shelf stable.” His chocolate line includes some spirited additions, such as single malt Scotch, and he enjoys pairing his confections with both beers and spirits. “They are both similarly complex and the play of flavors is very interesting,” says Rose, who admits to not initially liking the bitterness of some beers, though he enjoyed pairing them with candy. “I was the weirdo who sat at the bar with a beer and ate M&M’s.”

Today Rose is selling his specialty confections at The Cheese Shoppe, Happy Valley Brewing Company, and Fuji & Jade Garden, where beverage master Sc’Eric Horner is happy to create a complementary cocktail. His small brown boxes sealed with a ribbon stamped with his signature “H” in sealing wax (Haden, by the way, is Rose’s middle name) are compelling in a low-key way and are likely to be available in more places as the word gets out about how good the candies inside are. The Haden Confections slogan, printed on each box, reads “Hand Made Chocolates in Central PA,” and this sense of pride that drives his endeavor is commendable. “I want to express Centre County through my chocolates, using Meyer Dairy cream and other ingredients that are local, like fresh mint from an Amish grower and Lost Hollow honey.” His homies are happy about that. •SCM

Andy Rose’s Chocolate Truffles
4 oz. heavy cream, ½ oz. glucose (or thick corn syrup),
6½ oz. 60% dark chocolate, chopped fine,
½ Tbsp. butter, soft

Bring the cream and glucose to a full boil and pour over chocolate; let sit for 1½-2 minutes. Mix with spatula in center until it emulsifies, then add butter, whisking until smooth.

Let sit with plastic wrap directly on top of the ganache until it is pliable but not fully set up.
Use either a piping bag with a plain round tip that is about as big as a sharpie pen or a small cookie scoop to pipe or scoop the desired size onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

When they have firmed, roll the truffles lightly in your hands to form a ball-like shape. With gloved hands, coat your palms with melted chocolate and roll the truffles to lightly coat. One by one place them on another sheet pan or bowl with a little bit of cocoa powder to coat. When they are fully set, shake off excess cocoa powder.

Rose will custom design signature flavors for clients as wedding favors or as a promo for local businesses. His flavors currently include hazelnut, burnt honey, vanilla bean, mint and mocha cardamom orange in addition to the single malt Scotch and salted caramel. Get in touch at or 814-753-2439.

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