Lindauer Chocolates and Confections
● By Melissa Mendonca
By Melissa Mendonca
IT WAS A DIY Christmas gift to remember. And one to build a business on. Susan Lindauer of Portland, Ore., has enjoyed creating unique gifts for friends and family using the bounty from her Tehama County family’s orchards. In 2015, she and her cousin Allison slipped into the legacy of their grandmother, Sydney Lindauer, to create chocolate-covered prunes. “It was all very amateurish but we did the best we could with what she had,” she says of the 20 boxes that were distributed that year.
What she referred to as amateurish, however, was more highly regarded among recipients. “I kept getting repeat requests for them,” she says. “Everyone loved them.”
“That was really the spark for me,” she says of her decision to launch Lindauer Chocolates and Confections last year. “I’ve always been very passionate about our prunes. I want people to know how amazing prunes and walnuts can taste with chocolate.”
That passion for prunes is the legacy of Sydney, who helped found the International Prune Association to advance the industry. “People would come from France, Chile, etc. to visit our orchards,” Susan says of her family’s property, the Lindauer River Ranch in Red Bluff. “I got to hear about how much they revered the prune and how the prune was revered in confections. There’s a piece of me that remembers all of that and wants to bring it back.”
Being Portland-based but grounded in the family business in Tehama County has opened doors of opportunity to create the confections of her dreams. A dear friend of Lindauer’s is Diane Morgan, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. “When I first started thinking about this, she was the first person who came to mind,” she says. Morgan introduced Lindauer to Madeline Tomseth, a classically-trained French pastry chef. Together, the two translate the bounty of the North State into chocolates and confections that highlight the unique flavor profiles.
First up was a plum ganache. “It’s very decadent, very rich,” says Lindauer of the creation developed from prune puree and plum brandy. Then there’s the classic sea salt and walnut caramel the two came up with. Nougats were then brought into the mix, “harkening back to that French tradition.” There’s a plum and walnut nougat which showcases Lindauer River Ranch products and a pistachio nougat highlighting the pistachios from cousin Bruce Lindauer’s farm, also in Tehama County.
Honey for the confections is sourced from Wooten’s Queens and Bees in Palo Cedro, which keeps hives at the Lindauer River Ranch. “We try to use local purveyors for pretty much all of our ingredients,” says Lindauer.
The most recent offering is a whiskey walnut truffle using Portland distillery Bull Run whiskey. “It’s really in tribute to my grandmother, who pretty much every day had a shot of whiskey,” Lindauer says with a laugh. “I think about her every single day.” The elder Lindauer wrote a beloved newspaper column in Red Bluff called The Farmer’s Wife for many years, though it had to move from farmer’s wife to farmer when her husband died young, just three days after Susan was born.
Lindauer Chocolates and Confections are handcrafted in small batches and sold primarily direct to consumer via a website. They have a small retail presence in Portland at Made Here PDX, and in the North State at Enjoy the Store locations in Red Bluff and Redding.
“I also like to do charitable events,” says Lindauer. “My background is in social work, so I have a real passion for vulnerable families and children.”
Lindauer gave out her prune-enhanced chocolates again last year for Christmas, but this time, the efforts were upgraded to professional. She debuted her new business at a party attended by her father, Tomseth, Morgan and many others. “It’s always been this lovely group of people surrounding this venture,” says Lindauer. “Lindauer Confections is the latest development, but we have a great foundation and legacy.”
It’s with loving eyes and heart that Susan Lindauer reflects on her experiences at the Lindauer River Ranch, where she says, “We all started some job on the farm as early as 10.” While her branch of the family moved to Oregon when she was a child, she remains deeply connected. “My roots on that land run very deep,” she adds. “I’ve been going back there every single year of my life. My whole experience of growing up there is very rich.”
That, combined with the people in her life, are bringing joy and success to her venture with Lindauer Chocolates and Confections. “If you’re really keeping your eye on the prize, the right people come into your life with guidance and insight and support.” •
Lindauer Chocolates and Confections