Oprah had her favorite things that brought countless screaming audiences to their feet, but Paula Deen has her own way of spreading the word about the hidden culinary gems of the South.

The celebrity chef features Chattanooga’s The Hot Chocolatier in the current issue of her magazine, Cooking with Paula, and posted a recipe for Hottie brownies on her website last Thursday.

The recipe incorporated the Southside chocolate shop’s Hottie Sipping Chocolate mix along with espresso and cocoa powder for a dessert that is as heated as it is chocolaty.


“I’m so grateful for them to do something like that,” said owner and head chocolatier Wendy Buckner. “I’m a Southern girl, so I like Paula Deen. I have some of her cookbooks.”

Buckner explained that a representative from the magazine contacted her roughly two months ago for a brief phone interview.

When asked how the magazine had discovered the Chattanooga company, the interviewer simple said The Hot Chocolatier had come highly recommended by several sources.

The shop, which is also home to the chocolate-centric kitchen, is located on West Main Street and opened in 2008. The inventory includes everything chocolate, with truffles, cakes, brownies, nuts, barks, drinks and sculptures all crafted with an artisan approach.

The Hot Chocolatier uses Hottie Sipping Chocolate mix, which is also available in an original, non-spicy version, for its hot chocolate drink and as an ingredient in the quadruple brownies.

“It’s really amazing because it’s made with such high-quality chocolate,” Buckner said. “We import Swiss chocolate and chocolate from Belgium and France and then blend them to get our own flavor profile.”

The hugely popular item is one of the shop’s bestsellers: Buckner estimates she sold about 300 tins of the mix at Christmas.

Though The Hot Chocolatier has gained a loyal local following, the Paula Deen spotlight is the first national recognition for the Chattanooga shop.

“I hope it opens the doors to other opportunities like this,” Buckner said.

The Hot Chocolatier is located at 201 W. Main St. and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.