“Chocolate is a passion that never ends”

Mercedes Urbano Winquistmercedes-i-dorren

Who expects to find something like Mercedes’s Chocolaterie Amorina in a little village at the edge of the Sea of Åland? In the former economy buildings of Eckerö Mail & Custom’s House Mercedes Urbano-Winquist makes divine pralines by hand.

The story of Mercedes’s chocolate pralines is a story about love, cultural meetings, and bold life choices.
Mercedes comes from the land where the most aromatic cocoa grows: sunny Venezuela. Back in the days, when she worked at the Finnish embassy in the capital Caracas, she once took care of a couple of Finnish ceramicists that were on a study trip. One of them was from Åland – and she could not forget him. Since 2002 she lives in Eckerö together with her husband Peter Winquist. Many years they managed the activities in the Mail & Custom’s House. The winter season was not so hectic which made it possible to do other things as well. She found the Swedish chocolate guru Jan Hedh, who showed her the secrets of the world of chocolate.

– Chocolate is a passion that never ends, and I live with it 24 hours a day. At the same time it has been a personal challenge to find something really good in the small format. Something you don’t have to eat a lot of in order to feel content, Mercedes says. To only use ingredients of best quality is a part of her professional pride.
– As far as it’s possible I use the chocolate of my own home country Venezuela. And naturally I use Alandian cream and butter. This meeting, this special combination, is also an important part of who I am, she says.
It happens that she at times feels melancholic, having her dearest so far away.
But she gets strength from the Nordic seasons.

– In Venezuela it’s always green and flowery. The seasons here give variety and give room for different feelings. There’s a time for longing, sorrow and happiness, for greyness and for the colourful. I get inspired just looking out of the window.
She enjoys the process of making the pralines; from experimenting with new flavour combinations and handling the pots, to the shaping of the pralines, decorating them and putting them in their boxes. And chocolate really is like medicine. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Theobromine, the substance that is similar to caffeine, makes us alert, phenylethylamine makes us feel in love, and the amino acid arginine increases desire.
– Chocolate functions as an Aphrodisiac in many ways. It gives an extra nudge to love, but also to other sensualities and inspiration, says Mercedes.