A Very Sweet Seder

By Jeri Zeder

Published April 02, 2008, issue of April 11, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

As miracles go, it’s hard to trump the parting of the Red Sea. But there’s something miraculous about the fact that a box of chocolate truffles made in a Boston suburb and ordered by Norma and Alvin Hass near Chicago will, once again, grace the Seder table of their daughter and her family in Eagle River, Alaska.

CONFECTIONS: Sweethearts Three offers a kosher for Passover chocolate Seder plate.
CONFECTIONS: Sweethearts Three offers a kosher for Passover chocolate Seder plate.

The truffles come from Sweethearts Three in Sharon, Mass., a small, independent candy shop run by the mother-daughter team of Karen and Jill Schwab. Sweethearts Three claims to be the only retail candy store in the Boston area that sells its own handmade kosher, and kosher for Passover, chocolates.

Karen, 65, a former high-school history teacher, founded the business in 1981 with two friends (hence the name, Sweethearts Three). The friends soon left the company, but Karen had found her calling.

Jill, 37, worked in advertising before joining the company in 1999, when motherhood left her yearning for flexible hours.

The decision to make gourmet kosher chocolates was strategic; it was an untapped niche in a trendy field. The Schwabs’ store attracts some street traffic, but most of its business comes from custom orders and catering. Karen and Jill are currently trying to grow their corporate accounts. They’ll ship anywhere. Sales peak seasonally at the High Holy Days, Christmas (their repertoire includes kosher Santas) and — pulling in 25% of annual revenues — Passover.

Under the supervision of Vaad Harabonim, Karen and Jill spend two months preparing the store for Passover. On all other days, they purchase from one set of vendors; for Passover, they switch to a different set. On all other days, they use both dairy and pareve chocolates; for Passover, they make only pareve chocolates free of soy lecithin, as soy is usually forbidden at Passover by Ashkenazic authorities. They scrub down the place, unpack the Passover utensils and store the dairy things. Last but not least, they put away the regularly used chocolate tempering machine and haul out the Passover one.

“When chocolate is tempered appropriately, it has the right sheen, the right snap, the right consistency in the mouth,” Jill explained. The tempering machine squats in the center of the work area, melting chocolate bricks in its spinning kettle and fanning down the liquid chocolate to the perfect temperature. The process fills the store with an aroma like that of baking brownies.

Between the chocolate-dipped cashews, apricots and prunes; the cranberry cups and raisin clusters; the chocolate-covered macaroons and matzo; the solid chocolate daisies, and the chocolate kugel and truffles, Jill figures Sweethearts Three produces more than 1,000 pounds of kosher for Passover candies each year. The store’s signature offering is a 10-inch round, edible chocolate Seder plate topped with a one-pound, custom assortment of chocolate candies ($54 plus shipping).

Karen and Jill say that Sweethearts Three owes its longevity to the quality of the products, the emphasis on customer service and Karen’s unwavering enthusiasm even after nearly 30 years in business. Challenging the common belief that kosher chocolates are somehow inferior, Karen declared, “I defy anyone to make a better truffle.” Somewhere in Eagle River, Alaska, a granddaughter is likely to agree.

For more information, go to www.sweetheartsthree.com.

Jeri Zeder writes for the Forward from the Boston area.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.