Life is Sweet
Loyola couple blends marriage with Swiss chocolate business
October 29, 2009
Silky, vanilla caramel. Cherries marinated in brandy. Freshly roasted almonds. Vats of smooth, melted Swiss chocolate.
Who says that turning a passion into a career can cause your ardor to dim?
Since opening Glarus Chocolatier in December 2004, Ben, ’94, and Jennifer Weber Hauser, ’99, haven’t lost any love for the chocolate they melt and transform into scrumptious confections.
Jenny’s favorite is their dark chocolate almond bark. Ben’s choice? “It depends on the day,” he said. “I love every single piece we make.”
Following traditional Swiss recipes Ben’s father brought as an immigrant to the U.S. from Glarus, Switzerland, the Hausers make and sell a variety of delectable treats. Their specialties include truffles, dark chocolate sauce, Montmorency cherries, espresso beans, chocolate-dipped dried fruits, and Balinese sea salt bars.
A Swiss Hit
Sold locally in their stores in Timonium and at Baltimore’s Harbor East—and to the world via their Web site—the delicacies are making the name of a Swiss village synonymous with exquisitely fresh, handmade chocolates.
“The raw chocolate is all brought in from Switzerland, and we make everything here,” Ben said. “The Swiss are mostly known for their milk chocolate. They invented milk chocolate. But their dark chocolate is very good too.”
The higher cocoa butter content in Swiss chocolate makes the chocolate melt more smoothly. “Our chocolate has very little sugar and much higher cocoa butter,” Ben said. “You want an artisanal chocolate that doesn’t scream sugar when you bite into it.”
Recipe for Marriage
Although they are both Greyhounds, the Hausers weren’t students together at Loyola. They connected through match.com in December 2003.
“I got freaked out when he e-mailed me and said we had met before,” Jenny said. For a brief time after his graduation, Ben and a few of his friends owned a York Road bar—commonly known as Craig’s—and he guessed, correctly, that Jenny had been there as a student.
Within six months of meeting, Ben and Jenny were engaged. Both were unemployed at the time and Ben had already started planning a chocolate business. Jenny had quit a desk job in marketing and was thinking of opening a bakery. Ben had watched his parents run a demanding bakery operation, a catering company, and a chocolate business. He proposed that the couple start a chocolate shop together. Jenny didn’t need much coaxing.
“I was obsessed with chocolate my whole life,” she said. They opened their business in December 2004 and were married in June 2005. “We were starting a business and planning a wedding at the same time.”
Just as Glarus’ popular Edelweiss bark marries white chocolate with cranberries and pistachios, the Hausers blend their work and family life into a rich combination. On June 19, the Hausers’ son, Andrew Benjamin, was born, and he is quite content to accompany them to work.
With Jenny’s communication degree and Ben’s marketing degree, the Hydes, Md., couple was well-prepared to take on the business, though they have found their real passion is for the artistry involved in creating the chocolate. They recognize the challenges the business—producing a handmade, high-end product—faces in today’s market.
“People think they want handmade and natural, but they’re not patient to wait for it,” said Ben, a member of the Loyola Alumni Association Board. Still, their repeat customers understand.
Unlike candy purchased from some of their competitors, Glarus truffles—made without preservatives—come with an expiration date. When customers dropped by the Harbor East store one recent afternoon, however, none of them were checking expiration dates. Their mouths were too full.