LOGAN SQUARE — When Katherine Anne Duncan stayed over at friends’ houses growing up, their parents knew to stock the refrigerator with fresh, whole milk because that’s all she would drink.
Raised on a farm in northwestern Wisconsin, Duncan was accustomed to the freshest, richest dairy. So she wouldn’t use anything else in her namesake sweets, Katherine Anne Confections.
“I knew how much better it tasted,” she said.
Since launching her company six years ago, Duncan cultivated a host of dedicated fans who sought out her gourmet truffles, caramels and marshmallows at farmer's markets, Whole Foods, and local coffee shops. She also sold them online.
But on Sept. 22, she launched her first storefront at 2745 W. Armitage Ave. near California Avenue, where she serves up the old standbys while also experimenting with new treats.
“I love this because I can create new products all the time,” she said. “When I create a product for the store I can just make it and put it on a plate … I can be more flexible.”
Duncan debuts a new flavor of truffle and caramel every week, such as a pumpkin caramel and blackberry St. Germain liqueur truffle, a pumpkin truffle and pinot pine nut caramel.
“Just trying to keep things exciting,” she said.
Whenever possible, Duncan uses local and organic ingredients, and shuns corn syrup. She uses Guittard chocolate, made from a blend of some 20 different kinds of cocoa beans, and makes truffles in over a dozen different flavors, ranging from a traditional hazelnut to the more unusual goat cheese walnut.
And with the store, Duncan can offer something else that’s new — gourmet hot chocolate with the optional truffle melted right into it, topped with decadent whipped cream made in house using locally bought cream. Duncan's whipped cream boasts a 55 percent butter fat as opposed to the more typical 40 percent.
But gourmet ingredients aside, Duncan said she wanted people to feel comfortable just hanging out in her shop, which also offered more standard fare, such as coffee, loose-leaf tea and pastries from Beurrage.
“We try not to take ourselves too seriously, “ she said, adding, “We just try to make people happy.”