By John Lauritsen

MARINE ON ST. CROIX, Minn. (WCCO) — Bonbons, truffles, chocolates of all shapes and sizes.

They’re a Valentine’s Day tradition.

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But how do they get their creative shapes and their sweet taste?

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how candy meets art at the St. Croix Chocolate Company.

Marine on St. Croix is the name of a tiny town known for its scenery and its sweets.

“If we don’t have sea salt caramel in the case I get yelled at,” said Deidre Pope.

Pope is the friendly face behind the colorful counter at St. Croix Chocolate Company. If there’s something your sweet tooth craves, chances are she has it.

“Sometimes I feel like a bartender. People will come in. They’ll talk to me. I become a sort of, we the shop, become a touchstone for people,” said Pope.

And everything you see upfront got its start in the back.

Robyn Dochterman is half artist, half chocolatier. Very few people do what she does.

“We really strive to bring art into chocolate. A lot of people will say, oh, it’s too pretty to eat. No, it’s not. You should just enjoy it and then there will be more,” said Dochterman.

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For Dochterman, all the ingredients for a successful Valentine’s Day began years ago. She left the corporate world for pastry school. Then at night, she’d experiment with new techniques and tastes.

“It’s not a learn it in two weeks and you’ll be great. It’s a- you might be proficient in two years. You might be artistic in five years. You might really be at the top of your game in 10 years,” said Dochterman.

Dochterman’s on top of her game by thinking outside the box of chocolates. She combines things like grape jelly with peanut pralines to make a new kind of peanut butter and jelly treat. On this day, it’s her Valentine’s Day take on strawberries and champagne that’s turning heads.

She mixes and pours her way to something that’s appealing to both the eye and the taste buds.

“These are European techniques but for American tastes,” said Dochterman.

In this kitchen, everything just sort of melts together.

“Just enjoy that they are beautiful and then enjoy that they are delicious,” said Dochterman.

“We are just going to keep doing it as long as it’s fun. And as long as people need the chocolate and want the chocolate, we’ll be here to make it,” said Pope.

The St. Croix Chocolate Company sells chocolates across the country and was recently featured in Forbes Magazine.

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John Lauritsen