Treat yourself: Love and fun at Erving Station

  • Laura DiLuzio, who owns Erving Station with her mother, Donna Christenson, packs up a delight, which is a homemade marshmallow on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Donna Christenson makes delights at Erving Station, which are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Donna Christenson makes delights at Erving Station, which are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Donna Christenson makes delights at Erving Station, which are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Donna Christenson makes delights at Erving Station, which are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Erving Station delights are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Donna Christenson, who owns Erving Station with her daughter, Laura DiLuzio, makes delights, which are homemade marshmallows on a stick, coated in caramel, crushed peanuts and chocolate. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • WEISBLAT

For the Recorder
Published: 2/12/2019 1:10:15 PM

The watchword at Erving Station is “fun.”

Donna Christenson and her daughter, Laura DiLuzio, debuted their chocolate shop on Main Street in Erving a little over a year ago, and have been having fun ever since.

“My mom is a candy lover from way back, so she wanted to open a candy store,” DiLuzio said.

“I just graduated from (Greenfield Community College), where I studied business. I have been a bookkeeper for almost 20 years,” she continued. “The opportunity for this building came up, and it was kind of a perfect place for a candy store.”

The building is Erving’s former train station, for many years the Boxcar Restaurant. Christenson and DiLuzio have added pizzazz by painting the outside a bright pink.

“This is a train station, a historic building. We wanted to celebrate that, but at the same time every other color that it has been ... just faded into the background so people couldn’t see it when they were driving by,” DiLuzio said.

“We talked about painting it hot pink — and then we went and got a little can of it and tried it out on the back,” she continued. “It popped. So we just went for it.”

The cream-and-gold interior is a bit less assertive, letting the chocolates take center stage.

DiLuzio said the team’s plans for the store have worked out well ... with one exception.

“We are having fun. Our customers are super, super awesome,” she began, pausing. “We had planned to open up the kitchen and do food. That did not go according to plan. Who knew that cooking hot dogs and hamburgers would make the chocolate taste like hot dogs and hamburgers?”

Instead, the mother and daughter are considering purchasing a food truck to park in front of the store in warmer months to provide food for customers that won’t affect the delicate chocolate in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, they are planning for Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine’s Day is the biggest chocolate holiday of the year,” DiLuzio said. “We have ramped up our production and have a little bit in reserve. We have filled boxes waiting for people to pluck off the shelves.”

New since last February will be “chocolate-dipped bacon bouquets” in beer steins for loved ones who like their chocolate with a savory accompaniment.

DiLuzio noted that she and her mother tried a lot of candies and chocolates at food shows when they were preparing to open the business. They soon found their favorite wholesale provider: Winfrey’s, a family company in Rowley.

According to DiLuzio, the majority of the wares at Erving Station are made either in-house or at Winfrey’s.

I asked her to identify her own personal favorite among the many chocolates and candies available in the store. She sighed, noting that even Erving Station’s “official manager of taste testing,” her 8-year-old daughter Vivienne, has trouble coming up with just one favorite.

“I think the piece I gravitate to the most is our dark-chocolate-dipped ginger with a sprinkle of sea salt,” DiLuzio pronounced. “Of course, you have to be a ginger lover for that. Sea-salt caramel is our biggest seller.

“The regulars kind of know what they want, and they usually go for the same thing over and over,” she continued. “We have one customer who comes in and gets three-quarters of a pound of nonpareils every week. And then the travelers are a little more adventurous.”

One joy of helming Erving Station for DiLuzio is working with the small band of employees there, and especially with her mother.

“We are 100 percent total opposites. But we love each other, so even when we have disagreements, we communicate our way through them,” the daughter explained. “She has ideas that I would never have thought of and vice versa.”

The pair also have fun giving back to their community; they just wrapped up a fundraising project for the Erving Elementary School and have helped a number of nonprofit groups over the past year.

Above all, they savor the knowledge that their little store creates feelings of happiness and family for their customers.

“It sounds a little corny, but we like to put love in our chocolates because we want everyone to be happy with their purchases,” DiLuzio said, noting she hopes all customers leave with a smile.

Erving Station Delights

These huge, decadent chocolate treats are made in-house with bulk caramel and chocolate as well as homemade marshmallows.

Customers who want to replicate the exact store flavor (and are comfortable working with chocolate) may come to Erving Station to purchase caramel and chocolate in bulk, DiLuzio said. Otherwise, store-bought caramels and chocolate chips may be used.

Ingredients:

12 marshmallows

12 lollypop sticks

7 oz. caramels or block caramel

A splash of cream

6 oz. salted peanuts, roughly chopped

16 oz. chopped dark or milk chocolate (or chocolate chips)

Place the marshmallows on the sticks. Set them aside.

Melt the caramel with the splash of cream, either in a double boiler or by heating the combination for one to two minutes in the microwave. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Dip the marshmallows in the caramel, then roll them in the chopped peanuts. Place the coated marshmallows on parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets. Put them in the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate.

Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Stir constantly until it melts. Be careful not to get any water in your chocolate, or it will seize.

Take the sticks out of the fridge and dip them in the chocolate to coat them. Return them to the parchment to harden. Makes 12 delights.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.




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