Student’s truffle business dips into success

POULSBO — There’s often nothing better than a sweet morsel of carefully crafted chocolate, and Peter Crabtree knows it.

At a time when most teens are getting into the latest hit musicians and designer kicks, Crabtree was getting hooked on something else: truffles.

And it wasn’t a passing infatuation.

Now an 18-year-old West Sound Academy senior hoping to study business at Seattle University next fall, Crabtree partakes in an extracurricular activity that is, well, different from the norm. He’s the owner of CBC Chocolates, LLC, and just opened his new Poulsbo Village storefront to prove it.

“A couple of friends and I just had a blast,” he said of his introduction to truffles during a culinary arts class at WSA his freshman year. He and two buddies began meeting after school to create the chocolate confections and often sold them at local farmers markets — a far cry from the activities of many who surf the Web, play video games and watch TV for hours on end.

“I didn’t know if I’d ever get this far, but I sort of challenged myself to see what I could do,” he said. At 15, Crabtree bought out his friends and took over CBC Chocolates as a true entrepreneur, selling to local stores including Central Market and Town & Country Market Inc. Developing his Web site and studying up on the different chocolate options to choose from, Crabtree created a successful culinary company completely devoted to truffles.

Crabtree’s sister, Shannon Crabtree, said she isn’t surprised by her brother’s success.

“He’s the one who would whip up chocolate mousse for a snack,” she said with a laugh.

Concocting each of his truffle recipes from scratch, Crabtree is currently working on an espresso truffle with the Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company. He’s now selling his brew series truffle, a tasty combination of Belgian Callebaut chocolate (used for each of Crabtree’s truffles) and Silver City Brewery’s “Fat” Strong Scotch Ale. It cleverly comes in both a half-rack and six pack.

“I was trying to come up with ideas that no one else had,” he said. The taste of his new brew series truffles took him three months to nail down, making sure the flavor infusion was just right and the topside sheen and luster were perfect. He said while some take months to cultivate and hone, others are a quick hit.

“Some of them I just take a stab at,” he said.

Now offering truffles, coffee and various other beverages and treats at his storefront location, Crabtree said his list of customers is a burgeoning one.

“Business is growing rapidly,” he said. His tasty treats can be accessed online as well as at various local stores.

“He’s quite a great young individual,” said Central Market store director Tom Hall, pointing out that the chocolatier began with gift boxes and has widened his offering palate, now even giving demonstrations.

“It’s excellent chocolate,” said Central Market bulk foods manager Frankie Krueger. She said the store likes to feature local products, and Crabtree’s are worthy of the attention.

Crabtree has already developed successful recipes for champagne, vanilla, white port, amaretto, raspberry, kahlua, Irish cream, and lemon truffles, among others. His company boasts two employees, a full service counter and a kitchen filled with chocolate tempering and cooling supplies “where all the fun stuff happens.”

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