TIMONIUM – When it comes to fine chocolate, Larry McGlinchey would be the first one to tell you to trust your guts.
“You’ll notice it immediately when you taste it,” he said to the crowd of 80 people at the Maryland Science Center. “You can’t fool anybody.”
The “Cocoa-ology” event in the heart of Baltimore in late February was one of a dozen lectures McGlinchey – one of Maryland’s few chocolatiers — has given about the history, science and art of making fine chocolate.
Video by Ana Sebescen/CNS-TV
For the past seven years, McGlinchey, 59, has been the owner of Cacao Lorenzo, a fine chocolate boutique shop in suburban Dulaney Valley.
“Fine chocolate has a very unique taste and once you taste it, there’s good news and there’s bad news,” he said. “The good news is you’ve tasted it. The bad news is an awful lot out there doesn’t taste good anymore.”
Dave Hollifield, 49, has been a customer since 2007. He said he learned the difference quickly.
“It’s pure stuff,” he said. “I buy four bars every time I come. That’s my regular purchase. Two milk bars, two dark bars and they are gone in a week.”
McGlinchey’s fine chocolate is handcrafted and the process of producing a single batch of 630 milk chocolate truffles requires preparation and patience, he said.
“One of the quickest processes I do here takes about five hours,” McGlinchey said. “It’s a handcraft. There’s nothing quick about this.”
That is especially true when you throw science into the mix, he said. In addition to a specific room temperature of below 70 degrees for chocolate storage, fine chocolate requires fine cocoa butter, chocolate’s defining ingredient.
“Chocolate is the problem child,” he said. “You have to baby sit it. You just can’t leave it alone. You have to be with it and watch it at all times.”
McGlinchey’s passion for chocolate grew from his business trips to Europe as a salesman of medical supplies, a profession he’s held for about three decades.
“[Chocolate] is a part of European custom, culture and tradition,” he said. “It’s really not thought of the same in America.”
Most of McGlinchey’s ingredients – lavender flowers, spices, nut pastes – are imported from Europe, bringing the taste of fine chocolate to Baltimore’s suburbs.
“Good chocolate in the worst of hands can be botched up,” he said. “But bad chocolate in the best of hands can’t be made to taste good. If you don’t start with good chocolate, you got an uphill battle.”