Between the various options and rich tastes, one might think that Danielle and Matthew White — the owners and operators at the shop — have been making confections their whole life. That is not quite the case.
Danielle and Matthew, formerly New Yorkers, first began making candy a few years ago, when they discovered their 2 year-old son Mateus — Tay, for short — was severely allergic to peanuts. They named their shop Chocolatay Confections in his honor.
“We could never really find chocolate that [Tay] could eat,” Matthew White said. “There were cross-contamination warnings. So I decided to make it myself.”
In the beginning, the Whites worked exclusively out of their home, which is a certified home processor — meaning they can safely and legally produce their confections in their own kitchen. They frequented local farmers’ markets, where they began to make a name for themselves.
They took their business to the next level when in they moved into a physical location at Blue Dogwood in June 2018. But despite the growth in their business, they have managed to keep the practice in the family, with Danielle and Matthew running the business side of things, and their two sons serving as “chief taste testers.”
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“Not a batch of caramels can be dipped until Mateus signs off on it,” Matthew White said. “He’s got to taste-test and approve. And then our little one, our youngest son, they both really like to come up with creative ideas. We actually make the candy bar right now that was Mateus’s idea called the Potayto chip bar, with potato chips and milk chocolate. Two of his favorite things mashed up together.”
In addition to unique creations like the Potayto Chip Bar, patrons can find many other classics at Chocolatay Confections.
According to Matthew White, their sea salt caramels are by far the bestseller. As for his favorite item on the menu, White says he prefers the Coconut Bliss Bar. With its coconut macaroon cookie and dark chocolate ganache all dipped in dark chocolate, it’s what White says “many commercially made candy bars wish they could be.”
Both the classic confections and seasonal creations all have one thing in common: They’re sourced with local ingredients. Whether it’s ginger locally grown in Durham or strawberries from T5-Farms, Matthew White says that staying local with ingredients close to home is a major part of Chocolatay Confections’ mission.
“We try not to just talk about it,” Matthew White said. “We try to be about it.”
Through all of their new ventures, Matthew White says his love of candy and confection-making has never dwindled, nor have the joys and rewards of a family business. Even though chocolate has become his livelihood, he maintains that it is still his passion.
“I really just enjoy the work itself,” Matthew White said. “It’s kind of my creative outlet. To make chocolates and come up with new ideas and conceptualize, and then actually see them all the way through being produced and made and packaged — that’s a lot of fun for me.”
Despite the success Danielle and Matthew White have seen at Blue Dogwood, they keep true to their roots by continuing to attend farmers markets.
Chocolatay Confections can be found occasionally at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market near University Place, nearly every Saturday at the Downtown Durham Farmer’s Market and online, seasonally. Additionally, the Chocolatay Confections Blue Dogwood stall at 306 W. Franklin St. Suite G is open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.