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Location:
Bloomington
Medium:
Indiana Uplands AVA Wine Truffle Collection
FEATURED WORK
Linda Armes,
Peacetree Mountain Truffles

“Flavor is always of utmost importance to me. It has to taste fresh and bold, and it has to taste better than anything else like it that I have ever tasted. If a flavor doesn’t do that, it doesn’t make it out of my test kitchen.”

Linda Armes learned candy-making and baking at the hands of her grandmother. But bam! An appearance with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse made her consider opening a food business that led to Peacetree Mountain Truffles.

“In 2005, I won an Emeril Live contest and appeared with Emeril Lagasse on Food Network,” the Indiana Artisan explained. “My family and friends began to encourage me to start a food business, but I still had small children and the timing just wasn’t right. The idea of a food business lingered, though, and when I began making truffles for my family’s holiday season in 2010, everyone agreed – this was the food I needed to develop.”

She carefully pairs outstanding wines from Oliver, Huber, French Lick and other Southern Indiana wineries with a perfectly balanced artisan chocolate to create a distinctive truffle. As she intends with each truffle she makes, the unique taste lingers in the mouth long after swallowing.

“What sets our truffles apart is fresh flavors,” Linda said. “Traditional truffles focus on the chocolate inside. We look for chocolates that will highlight the Indiana wines or other flavors we add, such as aged balsamics from a local store, fine olive oils, home-baked cookies, and freshly brewed coffees from a Nashville (Indiana) shop. We always start with a fabulous product, then add that product to our chocolates and highlight that flavor as the main taste experience.”

She has savored time in the kitchen since early childhood, when her favorite pastime was helping her grandmother make candy, cookies and desserts for the holiday season. “We would sit around the kitchen table, wrapping pralines in waxed paper, pulling taffy until it was light and creamy and pushing sweet chocolate kisses into soft, warm peanut butter cookies,” Linda said.

But it’s flavors that inspire her. “When I create a truffle, the flavor is always of utmost importance to me. It has to taste fresh and bold, and it has to taste better than anything else like it that I have ever tasted. If a flavor doesn’t make me roll my eyes and say, ‘Wow, that’s good,’ it doesn’t make it out of my test kitchen. I want people to remember what they have eaten, think about it and smile, almost tasting it again as they remember. I want their experience with my chocolates to be memorable.”

Linda and her partners, Gretchen Handlos and Lisa Hornibrook, use traditional candy-making techniques. “All of our truffles are made in small batches, always hand decorated, and hand packaged,” she said. “While we employ a traditional technique to produce our ganaches (fillings for the truffles), we mold our truffles so they present more like a traditional piece of chocolate.

“Our tagline says it all: Fresh. Handmade. Unique,” she continued. “We promise a fresh product, made from fresh ingredients, with a fresh, clean taste and no preservatives. We promise a handmade artisan confection, made in small batches, hand decorated and hand packaged. We promise a unique truffle – with unique, fabulous flavors that make your eyes roll when you taste them.”

Linda considers it a true honor to receive the Indiana Artisan designation for her truffles. “Although I work hard every day to produce quality, tasty chocolates, now I can prove that it’s paid off, by being able to align myself with other quality workmanship,” she said.

Family traditions, Hoosier values, local flavors and a little brush with TV fame shaped Linda as an exceptional artisan foodist. Every ingredient and step in her truffle-making process pays homage to those standards and experiences.