Chef Michael Klug

Chef Michael Klug

Having fallen head over heels in love with the chocolates from L.A. Burdick, we were dying to know more about Pastry and Chocolate Chef Michael Klug. Amidst the busy Mother’s Day crunch, he was still kind enough to share some great insights about himself and chocolate.

FoodMayhem (FM): You have worked at some fancy restaurants (Lespinasse and Chanterelle to name a few), some of the biggest names in the world.  What drove your decision to switch from big city Pastry Chef to chocolatier of a smaller company?

Chef Michael Klug (MK): Before I came to Burdick chocolate I was working my entire career in restaurant and hotel business establishments; and yes some of these where among the finest in the industry during this time. During my years at Lespinasse with Chef Gray Kunz we were always on the search on the best ingredients and products. In the summer of ’93 Kunz approached me if I would consider to actually purchase chocolates for our petit four assortments. Not that we didn’t like what we were making at Lespinasse, but Kunz thought a chocolate company had the better set up and efficiency to make a superior confection than a restaurant. And to his opinion L.A. Burdick was the highest standard of chocolate quality that he could find. After I tasted the chocolate for the first time I had to agree with him. From that time on we received Burdick chocolates every week fresh from Walpole, New Hampshire.

When Larry Burdick approached me in the summer of 2002 to become the head chocolatier of his company I felt honored and excited. In addition, my son was just three months old and a move to the country from the big city seemed like a good idea.

FM: We have tasted your chocolates and there is no doubt that they are distinctive.  We’re impressed by how, in a highly saturated market, your chocolates do indeed stand out.  Tell us your secret: what makes your confections so much better?

MK: I again feel very much honored that you enjoy our chocolates so much. We constantly strike for quality and freshness. There are a lot of chocolate confections on the retail market that allow their product to have a shelf life of 3-4 weeks and up to 2-3 months. We strictly recommend to consume our chocolates within 10 days of purchase. We don’t believe in preservatives; we only use fresh local cream, purest ingredients, very expensive and high quality couvertures. We use old world techniques in the making of our bonbons, methods that are traditionally used in Switzerland and France. We do not use chocolate molds to shape our bonbons. This technique allows a very thin chocolate coating and provides a nicer mouth feel. In addition, the thinner coating does not mask the delicate flavor of our interior ganache.

Another very important point when we create our chocolates is not to overpower the chocolate in our ganache with the flavor ingredient that is added. For example:

A cherry bonbon should taste first of chocolate and have the cherry flavor as a subtle complex addition. It’s like a well balanced wine.

We also like to find a natural way of garnishing our chocolates, so that they are elegant but don’t look pretentious or out of touch with what their made of.

FM: Not only do your treats taste wonderful, they look beautiful — you are an artist.  Where do you find your inspiration and how often do you release new items?

MK: As I mentioned in question No.2 we like to garnish our chocolates with great attention to detail and simplicity. The inspiration comes often from within. I personally do not search the food world constantly and look what other pastry chefs create. Working with food for over 23 years someone develops a certain style. When I came to Burdick chocolate I had to adapt my style to the product that already existed. But as a pastry chef in the restaurant world I always had to do that. Desserts had to look that they came from the same kitchen where the food was cooked. Within these boundaries it was always interesting to keep a style that you would be able to identify yourself with. The same it is for me at Burdick chocolate. I think of a new product, usually during jogging or something where I have a little distance to the day to day routines, and then we often start as a team to work on it and make it a Burdick product. The little chocolate gateaux’s that I’m sending you are our latest creation. We designed them special for the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday.

There is no specific rhythm for new product releases. It’s not like a restaurant that changes it’s menu every season, but some products are created for specific holidays.

FM: You’ve worked at amazing restaurants; we assume you’ve eaten at amazing restaurants.  What are a few of your favorite restaurants in the US?

MK: I have to say that outside of New York City I did not have the pleasure to dine at many restaurants. Being a native German I mostly went back to Europe for travel, often also family related. But in New York City I had excellent meals at Annisa, Café Boulud, Danube, Chanterelle and Jean-Georges.

FM: Excluding your own chocolates, what’s your favorite dessert?

MK: Besides our chocolate bonbons and assortments I’m also very fond of seasonal fruit-oriented desserts. My favorite part during my time as a pastry chef in the restaurant world was the specific arrival of certain products during their annual season. Like Quince in the fall, Rhubarb in the spring, or Peaches in the summer, and then create a dessert that was totally different than something that I did the year before. But in general, I really love desserts that are light, fruit-oriented and well balanced in sugar/acidity ratio. Desserts that are simply sweet and rich are more a turn off for me.

But if I have to name one dessert on the top of my head I would say “Rhubarb Strudel with Vanilla Sauce and Cinnamon Ice Cream”.

FM: Many readers want to start making chocolates at home, can you provide some tips?

MK: It is interesting that you are asking that question, since I asked that question myself in the summer of 2006. I was wondering if people would like to come to Walpole, NH and visit our chocolate factory for a workshop to learn more about chocolate. Since there is such a big selection on various pastry – and cooking workshops, the idea of the Burdick chocolate cooking school was born. We advertised for the summer of 2007 and sold out in the first year.

Chocolate is very complex and not easy to work with. A lot of details in the process of working with chocolate have to be executed precisely; otherwise there is no success in the final product.

I think it is very difficult giving a few tips about working with chocolate in a small interview.

But the right book about chocolate can help a long way. I recommend two books that are very thorough and well written:

1. Peter P. Greweling “Chocolates & Confections”
2. Jean Pierre Wybauw “Fine Chocolates: Great experience”

These books will cover a lot of ground and will help to get someone started and cover basics as well as advanced fancy work.

FM: For us, food is life… love… religion even.  Where is your food Mecca?  Where do you travel to for food?

MK: At this moment I travel a lot to New York City, since New Hampshire is a very sparse food scene and I end up cooking truffle and fois gras dinners at home.

But if I would have to mention one place than it would be the small town of ‘Baiersbronn” in Germany’s Black Forest. It features two 3 Star Michelin Restaurants

(“Schwarzwaldstube” in Hotel Traube Tonbach; “Bareiss” in Hotel Bareiss) and another 1 star Michelin restaurant called “Sackmann”. Not many people know that outside of France, Germany has the largest number of 3 Star Michelin restaurants; 9 total. And this little romantic town in the Black Forest is my most favorite food place to visit.

Since it is remotely located, the food and the luxury accommodations of the hotels are definitely my food mecca.

FM: When you’re not making pastries and chocolates, what are your favorite past times?

MK: Besides chocolates and pastries my favorite past time are fine wines; I think there are more flavor sensations and complexity to discover in fine wines that there are in food.

But you might want to say “has this guy anything else on his mind than eating and drinking?”

Well, I love to go fly fishing, jogging, play chess and work on a little theater group that I just started.

FM: While you’re sharing, would you be willing to share a recipe with FoodMayhem readers?

MK: Yes I would share a recipe with FoodMayhem. Would it be ok to publish the truffle recipe that I did at the architectural design show?

L.A. Burdick’s Framboise Truffles


  • 22.5 grams Trimoline or Glucose (1 oz.)
  • 13.5 grams Honey (0.5 oz.)
  • 240 grams Heavy Cream (8.5 oz.)
  • Pinch Salt
  • 40 grams Framboise Eau de Vie (1.5 oz.)
  • 15 grams Butter (0.5 oz.)
  • 450 grams Valrhona Extra Bitter


1. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in mixing bowl or food blender.
Place glucose, honey, heavy cream and pinch of salt in a sauce pot and bring to a boil; Let cream mixture steep for about 15 minutes.

2. Reheat cream until scalding, but not boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add soft butter and Framboise Eau de Vie and mix again.
3. Line a cutting board with plastic wrap. Pour the ganache evenly over the wrap and cover with another sheet of wrap. Roll ganache evenly with a rolling pin, while both ends of the pin are resting on an exact height support. This could be a frame, two books or magazines of same height. The purpose is to determine the desired height of the chocolate interior.
The ganache should rest for about 36 hours, but no longer than 72 hours in a cool, but dry place before further handling.

4. After resting, the ganache should be cut with a knife into even small pieces. These pieces will get rolled into small round truffle shaped bonbons.
5. Start melting dark chocolate in an oven with a pilot light or indirectly over a water bath, while you are rolling the truffles. It is important that the melting of the chocolate is done gently and not too hot, since chocolate can be scorched if it is heated higher than 130 deg F. Milk and white chocolate are even more sensitive and should not heat over 120 F.

6. We like to roll our truffles with a chocolate that is within a range of 94-99 F.
Coat each truffle with a thin layer of chocolate and let rest in a cool area for about ½ hour. Than repeat the coating with another thin layer and place truffle in cocoa powder. Lightly roll the truffles in cocoa powder with a truffle fork. Let truffles rest for another 2 hours in a cool and dry area.
7. Remove the truffles from cocoa powder and with a pastry brush, remove excess cocoa.

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