RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- Are you looking for a place to buy chocolate-covered strawberries or maybe even a truffle or two this Valentine's Day? Look no further than the Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company in Reno.
Almost everything in the locally-owned and operated Midtown store is handmade from scratch.
"Just breaking up some Oreos so we can top the truffles with them," owner Carol Reitz explained as she started the process of making her popular Oreo truffles.
Next she pulled out a tub of chocolate cream from the freezer. "This is our truffle mix. It's frozen," she said.
It's frozen to keep the chocolate cream center hard while it's dipped in an outer layer of chocolate.
"All of our truffles are hand-rolled so we tried to get them as perfect as possible, but they're a little different shape sometimes," Carol said.
Truffles like these keep customers like Christine Riggi coming back for more. She discovered the Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company six months ago and became a regular customer after her first bite.
"I love truffles a lot and usually get them as See's Candies, but once I came in here I won't buy another truffle anywhere else. All of them are really good. They have watermelon," Christine said with a big smile as she held an infant daughter in her arms.
She says she especially likes the creamy texture of the chocolates. Some of the other popular flavors are key lime and peanut butter. There are more than 30 flavors. The most popular item for Valentine's Day is the chocolate-covered strawberry.
Fresh strawberries are hand-dipped in chocolate and topped with a drizzle of white chocolate inside the Midtown location.
The most popular chocolate is the Ritz. It starts with a large piece of caramel that is rolled flat. Dark chocolate is added on top of the caramel followed by a mixture of pecans, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. It is rolled tight and then dipped in one more layer of chocolate before a last layer of nuts is added on top.
None of this would have happened if not for 16-year-old Justin. He is Carol's son.
Justin has autism. "I think it was always a concern of ours, what Justin would do when he got older," said Carol.
Carol and her husband purchased the Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company from a friend in preparation for Justin's adulthood.
"He is very limited in certain abilities.That is not to say that he's not capable of learning or being employed," Carol said.
Justin is able to answer simple questions. He can pour chocolate into molds and bag finished products. The motivation for all of this is love. "He is a very kind soul," Carol said.
"He's very affectionate. He loves to be around other people and he doesn't want to be home," said Carol.
Carol's dream is that this chocolate shop will be a training ground for other people with different skill levels like Justin. He's already helping at the chocolate shop along with his older brother Kyle and his younger brother Riley.
Carol says a behavior specialist is working with Justin to prepare him to gently learn his skills until he spends several hours working at the chocolate shop.
Click Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company to purchase chocolates for Valentine's Day. Your order must be made eight hours in advance.
There is a $40 charge for delivery. A dozen chocolate strawberries costs $27.50. Just one will cost you $2.50.