Jenna Scott’s Marble Mountain Chocolates
By Enjoy Magazine
Story by Megan Peterson
Photos by Taryn Burkleo
SIXTY MILES southwest of Yreka, the scenic Marble Mountain Wilderness is a recreational paradise, home to mountains, lakes and meadows, and bisected by the famous Pacific Crest Trail. But its most distinctive landmark is the Marble Rim – a striking white marble mountain formation that glimmers in the sun. As stunning as it is unexpected, the Marble Rim is what gives the Wilderness its name, and has inspired a number of other business names in the nearby town of Fort Jones, the gateway to the Marbles.
But it’s Jenna Scott of Marble Mountain Chocolates that might be just as surprising as the Marble Rim itself. A wildland firefighter by summer, Scott spends her off-season as a high-end chocolatier, merging her love of fire and chocolate. “My first fire season I was in the Marble Mountains. And since then I’ve spent time on a bunch of different modules in the Forest Service and we always come back to the Marbles. It’s my favorite wilderness.” The purity of the Marbles is what Scott tries to infuse in her chocolate. “I leave out any dyes or unnatural products, because I found the simpler the better. You don’t get lost in that.”
Scott has always loved chocolate, but began experimenting with the science of it five years ago. “It was a cold winter so I didn’t want to go anywhere. I decided, if I can’t buy good chocolate, I’ll make it.” Scott quickly mastered the time-consuming process of tempering – basically heating up the chocolate to a certain temperature then cooling it by adding cold chocolate and stirring.
She also realized fire is reserved for the summer months. “Chocolate is very temperature-driven, so I have to keep my kitchen at roughly 60 degrees, which can be hard in the winter with a wood stove. Even just two degrees too warm and I have to stop for hours.” And what might seem like a double life to most people is what tempers Scott’s own mental and emotional balance. “It gives me six months a year that I can dedicate to working on chocolate. It becomes my way to disconnect from fire because fire can get overwhelming.”
After doing some initial partnership events with the South Fork Baking Company in Etna, it wasn’t long before Scott had several custom orders for baby showers, weddings and the holidays. As a one-woman operation, Scott’s hands are full in the winter. “During the holidays, I make as much as I physically can,” Scott says. “Almond and peppermint are popular. I do a Bordeaux, which is a brown sugar chocolate inspired by See’s Candy. I’ve also started making my own extracts and fusing them with local flavors, like blackberries from the Salmon River. Of course, you can custom order your flavors, too. And yes, I do taste all of my products. I have a problem,” Scott says with a smile.
In giving a service, Scott also provides a service. With every chocolate sale, she donates 10 percent of her profits to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to fallen firefighters’ families and to firefighters injured in the line of duty. “I wanted to incorporate my love for fire with my love for chocolate. And I wanted to give back, and this way I can give more back than I’d be able to on my own.” For Scott, the decision was personal. “I have a passion for it because over the last 13 years I’ve lost some friends, and a lot of friends have been hurt. To know there’s someone out there that cares means a lot more to us than I think they’ve realized.”
Scott sources her ingredient chocolate from high-end distributors, but eventually wants to make her own, becoming fully “bean to bar.” For now, she’s content creating seasonal surprises. “This winter I’m working on my own kind of scotch mallow. It’s a layer of homemade caramel and marshmallow dipped in chocolate. There are also going to be probably five or six flavors of candy bars that will come out, and I’m going to introduce a really dark chocolate because I don’t have anything in my lineup that’s above 60 percent, so that will be for those really bitter dark chocolate lovers.”
With fire season looming on the horizon, Scott plays by ear when she stops her operation in the spring, then typically reopens again in late September or October. But until she’s fighting external fires, she’s happy feeding her internal flame. “I made a promise to myself that I’ll quit when I stop enjoying what I’m doing. So far, I don’t see that happening.”•
Marble Mountain Chocolates
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