Cowgirl Chocolates hit the Food Network and received a lot of national press by mixing chocolate and spice. It is now located in Murfreesboro across from Dillard's in a small shop with few frills, but unique tastes using everything from habanero pepper and chocolate to mild flavors like dark chocolate and lavender.
Cowgirl Chocolates was created in 1995 by Marilyn Lysohir in Boise, Idaho. "Lysohir … had a passion for good, gourmet chocolate and having worked in a candy store in her younger years, she decided to experiment with quality chocolate and spicy spices. No one was combining the two, so she thought it was a worthy experiment," says the website.
Lysohir slowly built up a reputation by winning many food awards in national competitions, then she began peaking the interest of various media. Over twenty years of being in the business, she racked up 19 product awards and two packaging awards. She has also been featured on "Unwrapped" and "Extreme Cuisine," and written up in magazines like InStyle.
In 2018, Lysohir sold her business to Judith Ames, who has since moved it twice, once to Pilot Point, Texas, and now to Murfreesboro to be closer to family.
"I was ready to sell my horse farm in Texas," said Ames, "and the opportunity presented itself. I grew up in California, and I have been in the horse industry for 35 years. I was ready to do something new. This is my retirement business."
Ames got bit by the gourmet chocolate bug years ago, and she looks forward to blending Cowgirl Chocolates and her tea company, 9 Lives Tea Company.
"Try the chocolates and you will want more," says Ames. "I'm not even a big fan of chocolate as whole, so figured I'd be safe, but the hot and sweet flavor grows on you. It is addictive."
Until now, Ames has been running the business completely online. The extra-hot summer made shipments "interesting," but gave her a chance to move herself and the business from Texas to Tennessee.
"Spicy chocolates are our top sellers," said Ames, "especially the cayenne pepper and double dark chocolate."
There are four spicy truffle flavors, and four truffles with no spice. The ivory orange tastes like a creamsicle drizzled with light milk chocolate. The other non-spice options are double chocolate, milk chocolate, and raspberry and dark chocolate. Spicy options are the double dark chocolate, raspberry dark chocolate, hazelnut milk, and cappuccino.
They also offer caramels, chocolate bars, sauces, and hot chocolate mix. The top caramels are the Buckin' Hot Habanero and the Chipotle. Huckleberry Dark Chocolate in both mild and hot are the most popular bar options.
"Huckleberries are a big thing back in Idaho," added Ames, "so the company has built a reputation for the chocolate bars." Huckleberry enhances the flavor of dark chocolate.
Cowgirl Chocolates also has a VIP club for businesses and individuals that want to send gifts. According to Ames, all they have to do is sign up on line to get discounts. And Cowgirl does all of the wrapping and mailing, too.
Ames looks forward to also introducing Murfreesboro to her tea company, 9 Lives, too. Tea and chocolate make a great combination. She will be teaching classes in tea parings, as well as offer an international assortment of teas, blends, and herbals in the future.
175 Mall Circle Drive, Murfreesboro (in the strip-mall across from Dillard's)