Visit Ultimate Confections in Wauwatosa and observe the customers. It’s like an anthropological study in indulgence. Some take their time to make a single selection. Some know exactly what they want and choose quickly.
Many times those sweet savory morsels are enjoyed immediately. Some customers are obviously stockpiling for delayed gratification. And of course, at this time of year there is plenty of chocolate bought for gift-giving.
Owner Lori Presser-Murphy admits the holidays are great for business, but she’s hard-pressed to name a time when chocolate isn’t in season.
“Maybe summer, but our ice cream bars hand-dipped in our chocolate, or the ice cream turtle bars that are hand-dipped in caramel and chocolate and covered in roasted, salted pecans are very popular.”
Presser-Murphy built this business from a hobby she loved.
“I use to make peanut brittle from a recipe of my mother’s,” she said. “I’d give it away as gifts to friends and family. People would tell me I should sell it.”
She bought a tempering machine for melting chocolate and started dipping – chips, pretzels and graham crackers – everything, she said. Eventually, the operation moved into a church basement. She started to sell her confections to area markets and at craft shows. That was 22 years ago.
Seventeen years ago, Presser-Murphy selected the site of her shop on North 68th Street. The Wauwatosa resident thought she made a good choice.
“With Balistreri’s Pizza next door, customers come in either before dinner to get a little something to tide them over while waiting for their table or afterwards for a little something sweet.”
The shapes of things to come
One day, a customer came in and asked if she could make chocolates that looked like tools – wrench, screwdriver, hammer – for a gift. Presser-Murphy bought some molds and her niche was born.
She makes chocolates in the shapes of – well you name it and she probably has it; and if she doesn’t, she’ll find a way to make it. The shop’s themed chocolates seem almost unlimited, from sports, including Packers and Badgers, and musical instruments to chocolate shapes that signify various occupations.
Say it with chocolate – "get well," "good luck," "good bye," "good riddance" – of course, in chocolate that sentiment doesn’t seem quite as harsh.
Presser-Murphy uses fine domestic Wilbur Chocolate from Lititz, PA. She loves to play around with different flavor combinations, like the chocolate-covered caramels sprinkled with sea salt.
“I make chocolate every day. For the holidays, we have candy cane truffles that are so good,” she said.
Seasonal items can get to be so popular they become daily fare. “Our chocolate-covered strawberries were seasonal at one time. Now we make them every day because our customers come in for them.”
Her favorite is the peanut butter dream cup in both dark and milk chocolate. Yes, she eats chocolate every day, too.
A good staff and a quality product have kept customers coming back, she said.
“Many of our customers are regulars and they have their favorites – dark chocolate almond clusters, cherry cordials and our truffles.” Truffles also have seasonal flavors from pumpkin to raspberry.
Presser-Murphy greets Karen Vernal with a hug. The Wauwatosa resident has been a customer for more than 20 years. Vernal selected chocolates to give to her clients this time of year. On this day, she leaves with a beautifully wrapped tray with an assortment of chocolates for a dinner party she’s attending.
They may be no downside to selling chocolate. Here customers are never in a bad mood; and if they are when they step inside the door, that soon changes.
Chocolate seller Ashley Growth offers her sympathies to a young woman who tells her she wants to send a 2-pound box of chocolates to her boyfriend who couldn’t be with her at Christmas. Oddly, the young woman didn’t seem to mind, as she was also treating herself to an indulgence.
“That’s what I love about this business,” Presser-Murphy said. “We are creating something so delicious and perfect and special for our customers.”
Ultimate Confections offers specialty chocolates for wedding and event favors and fills special requests.
Address: 820 N. 68th St.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday