La Gourmandine will take over the former Penn Avenue Fish spot on Forbes Avenue
When it comes to satisfying a gut-wrenching craving, we often gravitate toward one of two guilty-pleasure foods — chocolate or pizza. The only way these classic foods could get any better is if you were to combine them, and Ryan Novak, owner of Chocolate Pizza Co., is doing just that.
What started off as a gift basket company based in Marcellus, N.Y., has turned into a chocolate-pizza business where pizza pies are made with Swiss chocolate and crunchy English toffee as the crust and topped with more than 250 options such as white chocolate, peanut butter cups, Irish cream, Gummi candy, almonds and caramel, all delivered pizza-style in a box.
Chocolate Pizza has a team that comes up with flavor combinations by often finding inspiration from the dessert pizza options at popular chain restaurants.
“We absolutely look around to see different, innovative things to do to our Chocolate Pizza,” Mr. Novak said. ”I always have a final say in what we do, but I listen to what everyone has to say.”
To make a chocolate pizza, “you don’t need any fancy equipment,” Mr. Novak said. “It’s definitely something you can do in your kitchen.”
One of the popular requests his company gets is for the Campfire Pizza, which is topped with nostalgia by combining tiny marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate.
If you want to recreate the Campfire Pizza at home, all you need is a box of graham crackers, your favorite type of chocolate and a bag of small marshmallows. Break up the graham crackers in a food processor or by placing the crackers in a zipper-sealed plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Be sure to leave some larger chunks in the mixture to replicate the idea of S’mores.
Chocolate Pizza Co. uses a high-grade, Swiss-style chocolate for its pizzas, but any brand of chocolate will do. If you are looking to capture the taste and texture of Swiss chocolate, look for bars that are high in cocoa and milk content, and use coconut butter in lieu of vegetable oil. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler until it is smooth and creamy. Then combine the warm chocolate with graham cracker pieces and mini marshmallows.
Then quickly transfer the batter into a well-greased pizza pan, and spread it into a thin layer. Leave it in the refrigerator for about an hour before cutting a wedge.
But what’s a box of pizza without a side of wings? Chocolate Pizza Co. also makes Peanut Butter Wings, which is its take on chocolate-covered potato chips. Rippled potato chips are smothered with rich peanut butter and dipped into melted chocolate. To make it at home while the pizza is cooling, dip potato chips in peanut butter and the leftover melted chocolate.
Chocolate Pizza Co. also sells chocolate-covered cookies, dipping about 9,000 a day.
Mr. Novak, 26, who grew up down the street from what is now Chocolate Pizza Co., started working there washing dishes at age 15 and dreamed of becoming the owner one day, which he did at age 21. When he bought the company, there were two types of Chocolate Pizza, one with nuts and the other without. Today, the company sells 50 varieties in more than 1,000 retail locations including most Sheetz, CVS and Hallmark stores in the Pittsburgh area.
He said he was able to achieve his dream by following one practical rule — being persistent.
Alexis Book: email@example.com or 412-263-1889.