Lake Forest chocolatier offers tasty desserts
Chocolates by Bernard co-owner Helen Shum holds soft serve ice cream her business offers. The ice cream is made out of real cream and Bernard Callebaut chocolate. Photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in Lake Forest. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut
SPECIALTY: Ice cream, chocolate-dipped frozen bananas and summer cream- and fruit-filled chocolates as well as baking chocolate, gift boxes and party favors
LOCATION: 825 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest
HOURS: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
CONTACT: (847) 283-9928 or bernard-callebaut.com
Updated: August 28, 2012 8:06AM
LAKE FOREST — It’s just another season for Chocolates by Bernard, but what a sweet season it is.
The summer-only ice cream offerings at the Lake Forest chocolatier have drawn quite a following in the past four years — and with good reason.
The sweet, creamy soft-serve cones are flavored with real Belgium Bernard Callebaut chocolate, not just cocoa powder. And that makes all the difference, owner Helen Shum said.
“We use real dairy cream with our own chocolate mixed into the ice cream,” Shum said.
Ice cream lovers can choose between white chocolate, chocolate, or a twist of both flavors. They also have the option of a waffle or sugar cone, or in a cup for those who enjoy eating their ice cream slowly.
Each version comes topped with a thin wafer of Bernard Callebaut chocolate.
Other summertime-only items available through September are chocolate-covered frozen bananas dipped in milk or dark chocolate, with or without hazelnuts. Special summer chocolates include a variety of cream- and fruit-filled chocolates.
What sets Bernard Callebaut’s chocolate and ice cream apart from others are the ingredients.
“We import everything from different places,” said Shum.
The hazelnuts are from Turkey. For the chocolate candy offerings, pistachios come from Italy, almonds from California, cream from Ontario, Canada.
“The chocolate, of course, is from Belgium,” she said.
Bernard Callebaut started making chocolate in Belgium in 1911 and grew internationally from there.
Shum opened her Lake Forest store 15 years ago when her husband was transferred to the United States from Canada.
“I was a customer of one of the stores in Canada, so I thought, ‘Well that’s a good idea to bring it here,’ and it was,” she said.
Business is brisk and summer’s holiday lull offers the opportunity to serve ice cream. The location, at 825 S. Waukegan Road near Sunset Foods and Sushi Kushi Toyo and across the street from the West Lake Forest train station, draws walk-ins regularly.
“This is a good neighborhood and Waukegan Road is heavy traffic, so we catch all the traffic going north and south,” she said.
Other customers wander in when they’re leaving the train station or after having a meal nearby.
“They see our sign and they think, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll go in here and have ice cream,’” she said.
Summertime walk-in business keeps the chilly shop, which is kept cold to better preserve the chocolates, busy from noon to 3 p.m.
Ice cream buyers often opt for a piece of chocolate. Most get hooked.
“They love our chocolate,” she said. “Our chocolate is not sweet. We use a lot of cocoa and very little sugar.”
A light hand is used when ingredients are added.
“We put in a very mild flavor so it doesn’t overpower the chocolate,” she said.
Shum advises to not pop an entire chocolate into your mouth.
“We tell our customers, ‘Bite it, look at the texture, then finish it,’” she said. “And keep your chocolates out of the heat and out of the sun.”