Sweet talk with Molly Cook of Marble & Steel Craft Chocolates

The local chef comes from a long line of chocolatiers — and she + her husband, John, are continuing the confectionery tradition.

Molly Cook of Marble & Steel Craft Chocolates stands in her home kitchen.

All the chocolate magic happens here.

Photo by AVLtoday

The subtle scent hits as soon as you enter Molly and John Cook’s door. It isn’t immediately apparent where it’s coming from — until you step through to the living room and turn a corner. Arranged in a large alcove, where another family might place a dining room table, the Cooks have created a confectionery kitchen. On these counters and in these molds, Marble & Steel Craft Chocolates are made.

It’s a pretty sweet story, so let’s start at the beginning.

A history that starts in Hershey

We could begin with Molly’s and John’s extensive culinary careers, but that’s not far back enough. The real beginning is generations earlier. Molly’s grandfather was a third-generation chocolatier, and Molly was born and raised two miles from Hershey, PA. She spent her early years running around the chocolate factory that her grandfather’s childhood home had been converted into — before attending pastry school and eventually working at the renowned Norman Love Confections.

A photo of clauber's first candy store hands on a blue wall

A photo of Molly’s grandfather’s shop hangs on the wall.

Photo by AVLtoday

John also worked at Norman Love, after culinary school and positions in ritzy hotel kitchens, and he eventually served as the company’s head pastry chef.

But in 2017, the couple moved to the Asheville area to start their family. John got a job at the Omni Grove Park Inn, where he’s now executive pastry chef, and Molly had their two little ones. For Molly, chocolate was on the back burner — then, in 2020, the pandemic hit.

Around that same time, though, something else hit too: an obsession with hot chocolate bombs. “We were all kind of bored,” says Molly. “And a couple of my friends knew I used to work in chocolate, so I made some for them. Then people started messaging me from all over town. We ended up making, like, 600.”

So the hot chocolate bombs exploded (pun intended), then expanded into bonbons, which further expanded into a website and pop-ups and makers events.

Molly Cook takes a white chocolate out of its mold

Stacks of molds carry the hand-poured, hand-painted chocolates.

Photo by AVLtoday

Creating the chocolate

The company got its name from the tools traditionally used to create the chocolates. When the business started, the Cooks would hand-temper it on marble tables (which means to heat + cool it to make it stable and smooth for creating confections). And “steel” is the industry term for a palette knife, which chocolate makers use frequently.

These tools are set up in the Cooks’ home, along with chocolate tempering machines and stacks of molds for shaping the confectionery products. You’ll also find bottles of different colored cocoa powders for hand-painting the tops of bonbons and bars and other treats.

In the world of flavors, Molly likes to choose ingredients that resonate with people and creates some chocolates with local ingredients, like Penny Cup Coffee. “I like flavors that are part of that season,” she says. “Something that people can recognize and enjoy and that can be a little nostalgic. Something to ignite your palate and your senses.”

Just don’t ask her to pick a favorite from the collection. “That’s like asking me to choose a favorite kid,” she laughs.

Rows of colorful chocolates sit on a wooden cutting board.

The confections come in all shapes and sizes.

Photo by AVLtoday

Community through confections

Although hot chocolate bombs are a pretty unique genesis for a business (now lovingly referred to as “hot chocolate-gate”), Molly says that 2020’s being a first year of business is a common refrain from other locals. “It kind of nudged you — well, shoved you — into doing what makes you happy,” she says. “We were looking for what brought us joy.”

Since that time, there’s also been an instinctive urge to support communities, she adds. “I just love that I’m able to be a part of that. Meet other people that are also doing the grind and making. I get really amped up when I’m around those people — people that aren’t even doing anything close to what I’m doing. Just an artist or someone making earrings, but it’s the same process where you decide ‘I’m going to make something out of nothing.’ There’s something beautiful about that.”

Got a sweet tooth? Shop the chocolate online, and keep an eye on social media for pop-ups + events.

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