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McHenry County Made: Ethereal Confections, Woodstock IL

From the moment you see the ornate, historic storefront, you know something unexpected is within. When you open the front door, you’ll step into a world that would make Willy Wonka gasp! This isn’t just a chocolate shop. It’s a culinary experience.

Mary Ervin and Sara Miller became fast friends in college, bonding over a mutual love for food. They focused on arguably the most perfect food, chocolate, and turned it into Illinois’ only small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker.

Mary’s passion for chocolate making began at the young age of 14 when she began working at Anderson’s Chocolate Shop in Richmond, IL. She continued to explore and work with chocolate and other foods throughout college where she met Sara who had a similar love for chocolate because of the challenge the medium creates.

Later in life this dynamic duo began creating their unique chocolates together in their homes daily after working their own full-time jobs to be sold on Saturday’s at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market. This cycle continued until they found their home on the Woodstock Square.

If you can’t tell already, Ethereal Confections is a truly unique experience you cannot find anywhere else. What makes Ethereal different than your average chocolate shop is that they are the only small batch bean to bar chocolate makers in the state of Illinois. The beans used to make their confections come from all over the world; including countries like Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guatemala and are only chosen after being evaluated by a member of the Ethereal team. Mary will make trips to these countries just to examine the quality of the beans and ensure that they are responsibly sourced by farmers in order to enact positive changes in the farmers lives, the environment and the countries in which the cacao is grown.

Once the beans arrive in Woodstock, they are hand sorted and roasted in the oven, then cracked and the shell are all removed. This results in pure cocoa meat which is ground and mixed with sugar to create chocolate. The chocolate isn’t complete yet, the ladies of Ethereal Confections then hand craft bars, truffles, and specialty confections into unique, mouth-watering treats.

Truffles range from classic creations like Salted Karma, (caramel & sea salt), to more exotic combinations like the Smoking Gun, (bourbon, smoked cherry liqueur, chocolate bitters & sea salt). They also take full advantage of seasonal trends by creating a variety of seasonal truffles that make perfect gifts for a loved one or even yourself! You won’t want to miss the wide variety of inclusion, melt away, and single origin bars available in their shop and online, as well as baked goods and sandwiches that cater to just about any dietary need!

Once Sara and Mary perfected the art of chocolate making they added onto their business by creating a full menu of hand crafted teas, coffees, and lattes as well as a high-end craft cocktail list. Looking to learn from their expertise? Sign up for one of Ethereal’s many events and classes that teach you how to pair their chocolates with a variety of spirits and craft beers, or even create your own chocolates and truffles. 

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