Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to give some sweets to your sweetie. Or you could do it just because.
If you are going for a sweet gift, there is an award-winning chocolatier in Timmins.
Brianna Demers is the owner of Just Beecause Chocolates and Confections. While they have special selections available for Valentine’s Day, she doesn’t believe you need a special occasion to surprise someone special in your life.
“My nickname growing up was always Bee, like a bumblebee,” she said. “We came up with Just Beecause Chocolates, because if you’re going to come in to treat someone, I treat my mom just because or I’m going to treat myself today just because.”
Demers became creative in the kitchen at an early age.
“I am originally from Timmins, Porcupine,” she said. “I started baking at a very, very young age. If you come to the shop, you’ll see a picture of me with my first little rolling pin. I just always had a passion for cooking in the kitchen.
“I went to school in Sudbury, Cambrian College for baking and pastry arts. From there I worked in the Greater Toronto area, went to Paris, Italy … a little bit everywhere, and then decided to come back to Timmins.”
After college, she placed in four categories at the 2013 Intercollegiate Chocolate Competition, winning first overall in Canada. Her lavender passion fruit chocolate bonbon earned her another first-place win.
“I was in college and met a chocolatier and started training with him,” Demers said. “Something about tempering chocolate, and painting and molding, and getting to be creative with colours and flavours, that’s what really attracted me to chocolate.”
That led her on a career path to open her own business.
Whether it be layer cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candies or chocolate, everything at Just Beecause is created in Demers’ kitchens.
“Everything is made here,” she said. “Caramels are handmade. Meringues are handmade. Everything is produced here.
“We have to be very careful with the temperature. We used to make all of our chocolates in one kitchen and we had to expand to a second kitchen because it was too warm with the oven running all day as well.”
For Valentine’s Day, she is offering a special selection of treats.
“We’ll be offering chocolate-covered strawberries,” Demers said. “We have some really nice big boxes of chocolates, a little bigger than we normally offer. And they’re nice black boxes with a red ribbon on them. We’ll have a lot of red and pink Valentine’s Day desserts.
“I think Valentine’s Day is not just for a significant other, it can be for a mother, a father. It can be for a family friend or anyone in your life. Valentine’s Day, for me, isn’t just necessarily for a loved one.”
For most special days, Just Beecause has some unique offerings.
“On Mother’s Day we offer different gift bags, which we’ll be doing for Valentine’s Day as well. Gift baskets,” she said. “We have some gift baskets for beer lovers — things like beer caramels, beer chocolate. So really, there’s a variety of options for everyone.”
Some items have become regular favourites.
“Our raspberry frangipan tarts have become very popular,” she said. “We make them on Fridays and Saturdays and they tend to sell out very quickly.
“Our salted butter caramels are very popular. A lot of our clusters as well.”
So, what’s her personal favourite?
“Pretty much everything goes, and it’s (all) my favourite too,” she said with a laugh.
The handmade chocolates can be classified as works of art, as they look as good as they taste. Everyday experiences help inspire the wide variety of unique flavours.
“Just by talking to family and friends, seeing what trends are coming up and what flavours they think I should work with,” Demers said. “Some of our flavours are just created by places that I’ve travelled.
“One of my favourites is the London fog bonbon. That’s when I went on my first date with my fiancé and I tried London fog, and I never had that before. I tried to infuse Earl Grey tea into a chocolate. That’s how I come up with some of my ideas.”
She also takes special orders for her creations, including layer cakes and cupcakes. Catering is also available for creating a sweet table.
Demers is enjoying running her business, which began in April 2017.
“I have a lot of fun thinking up the flavours,” she said. “I try to make the colour come out of it when I’m thinking of the flavours. Like grapefruit caramel, I think of the pink and like a skin colour — that’s kind of what I did with the painting on in.
“That’s where I get to have a lot of fun with it, too.”
Just Because Chocolates and Confections is located at 283 Pine St. S. in Timmins.
It is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.