A flamingo-pink roof protrudes cheerfully from the glass shop. Beyond the doors, the fresh scent of sweet chocolate wafts through the cool air. Hot pink and blue stripes adorn the inside walls, and illustrated pink bunnies seem to run around the short cylinder lights like part of a carousel.
This is the home of Timothy Adams Chocolates, located on 539 Bryant St. in downtown Palo Alto. Here, the cheerful color scheme, softly pulsing pop music and friendly employees create a lightness of mind and feeling, the perfect atmosphere in which to browse through an assortment of freshly-made bon-bons.
Timothy Woods, co-owner and head-chef of Timothy Adams Chocolates, spent several years in the restaurant business until a fateful trip to Amsterdam left him inspired to open a chocolate boutique. Woods remembers walking through the streets of Amsterdam and stumbling upon a hidden gem of a chocolate shop. Persuaded by the incredible appearance of the sweets, he and his partner, Adams Holland, purchased a box to eat while exploring the city. Woods, a trained chef, admired how dark, white and milk chocolate were all used harmoniously to create a masterpiece, in both aesthetics and taste.
“If you go into Godiva Chocolate or See’s, almost everything you see is dark chocolate,” Woods says. “That made me use the different colors of chocolate for decoration … it’s a way to give everything a distinctive look, so every chocolate looks different, without reverting to artificial things.”
Following the chocolate tasting in Amsterdam, Woods enrolled in a chocolatiering school in Chicago and subsequently worked in several chocolate shops, such as Puccini Bomboni in Amsterdam and Demel in Vienna.
After five years of planning, Woods and Holland opened Timothy Adams Chocolates. The plan had been to open in Sausalito, Calif., where Woods worked as a manager in a French restaurant. However, Woods and Holland learned that Monique’s Chocolates in Palo Alto would soon be moving to Paris, opening up a golden opportunity for them to take advantage of.
Now based in Palo Alto, Woods and his team have created over 100 original designs for their bon-bons. To describe the thinking process behind his seemingly abundant and never-ending creations, Woods uses fashion to explain.
“[It’s like if you] look in your closet at home and you need to plan outfits out for 10 days, with what clothes you have, and you don’t want to repeat any items; it’s the same way,” Woods says. “Because you want … a diverse collection.”
Woods’ appreciation for fashion extends throughout the shop, even in the littlest details. He points out the pink hash-marks done by Holland that line the striped walls, reminiscent of the stitches lining the edges of clothing labels. In addition to the aesthetics, Woods places utmost importance on the origins of every ingredient that goes into his bon-bons, incorporating everything from Venezuelan chocolate to strawberries and raspberries from the local farmer’s market.
Once all the ingredients have been procured, production starts. The process takes over 48 hours, half of which are spent waiting for the ganache to set to develop the perfect texture.
Then, each bon-bon is rolled in a layer of liquid chocolate.
“[You] put on gloves and take chocolate that has been tempered correctly and you roll each one in your hand … that’s what gives it the really thin, nice coat of chocolate,” Woods says, using a spoon to ladle white chocolate onto his gloved hands. It dribbles down his gloves as Woods, smiling, rolls a ganache between his hands. He sets it on a tray before grabbing another.
He and Holland have made efforts to win over these former Monique’s customers. For instance, when a customer approaches Woods over the counter and inquires about Monique’s chocolate syrup, Woods kindly suggests an alternative.
“If you come by on Tuesday, I’ll write down a quick recipe for you on how to make a good chocolate syrup,” Woods offers.
The customer smiles and thanks Woods before leaving the shop.
Despite customers occasionally mistaking Timothy Adams for Monique’s, Woods remains happy at how the location arrangements have turned out. He notes that had he and Holland settled for Sausalito, the shop’s main customers would likely have been tourists, but here in Palo Alto they have built a local client base and community.
Holland, who manages the packaging, decor and environment of the shop, reflects on the pleasure of seeing lots of customers drop by, especially on the weekends.
“When the people come in here, they’re just happy,” Holland says.
The community that Woods and Holland feel is reflected in the quirky mood and decor of the shop, from the countless bunnies to the pots of flowers and pink desk lamps that decorate the tables like they would in a little house.
“If you’re welcoming someone into your home, then you have this obligation to make them feel comfortable,” Woods says.
The bunnies continue to stand attentive over the bon-bons, greeting each new customer.
The white and dark 58 percent cacao chocolate combine together to mesh with the raspberry perfectly. The raspberry adds a welcome tartness to the sweeter white chocolate while not overwhelming the taste buds, and the ganache is very smooth.
XXX (TRIPLE X)
At 100 percent cacao, this must-have for dark chocolate lovers does not overwhelm the tongue with bitterness. The ganache is smooth, with a thin couverture.
COCONUT CREME CARAMEL
This bon-bon holds shredded bits of coconut inside of it that are fresh, sweet and crunchy. The coconut adds a welcome texture while the faintest bit of caramel to the ganache enhances the sweetness just the right amount.
This chocolate reflects the essence of coffee without being too bitter and goes very well with the dark chocolate, which is pretty sweet. The chocolate sprinkles on top add a nice touch and slight texture, while the ganache easily melts on the tongue.
Explore Timothy Adams Chocolates further via photography by Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang: