1. News
  2. /
  3. Hernando

Hand-dipped and scratch-baked: The Chocolate Lady rocks Spring Hill mall

Kathie Strozzie, The Chocolate Lady, left, announces chocolate-covered bacon among Saturday's specials at her shop in Towne Square Mall in Spring Hill. Friend Dee Freida gathers tiramisu, biscotti and pizelles to fill orders throughout the mall. [BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times]
Kathie Strozzie, The Chocolate Lady, left, announces chocolate-covered bacon among Saturday's specials at her shop in Towne Square Mall in Spring Hill. Friend Dee Freida gathers tiramisu, biscotti and pizelles to fill orders throughout the mall. [BETH N. GRAY | Special to the Times]
Published Nov. 26

SPRING HILL — She’s part chemist, part inventor, part Willie Wonka. She’s Kathie Strozzi, “The Chocolate Lady,” who dashes to her slot Fridays and Saturdays in Towne Square Mall, where customers await, slathering to satisfy their sweet tooths.

A recent Saturday was her normal. Before she’d unpacked, regulars grabbed up hand-dipped chocolate-and-nut candies, oatmeal cookies half-dipped in chocolate, cocoa-heavy tiramisu and scratch-baked chocolate biscotti. They inquired of the day’s specials.

For 20 years, Strozzi, 67, worked in restaurants. She waited tables, managed the premises and sometimes stirring up their pastries and cakes. When a broken shoulder sent her home for a period of time, the “I-love-to-cook” woman began playing with chocolate.

“It took me six months and 65 pounds of chocolate to find the right combination,” Strozzi said. She referred to the melding of bittersweet, semisweet and dark chocolates into the mid-sweet taste she prefers. And she dithered over its tempering to yield a silky, toothsome coating when cooled to room temperature.

Today, her New Jersey distributor provides processed cacaos from Great Britain, Canada and California, according to her specifications.

In her year-and-a-half as chocolatier, Strozzi’s decided, “I like being an inventor and creator.” Last weekend, her specials included chocolate-covered bacon and dried apricots, plus tiramisu. This weekend, she’ll have different surprises.

“I like to mix and match,” Strozzi said. Her Danish pudding is just that, Danish pastry mixed with pudding. She’s transposed chocolate candy “turtles” into “walleys,” swapping walnuts in place of standard pecans.

And there’s her banana bread.

“She puts pineapple in it,” said regular customer Dan Brown of Brooksville, at the ready with his credit card. “I didn’t think I’d like it, but I did, so I’m back for more.”

Last Christmas, Brown asked Strozzi to make up gift baskets of her goodies, which he gave to employees of his internet marketing firm. On this day, Brown paid homage to Strozzi’s chocolate-covered caramel brownies, chocolate and nut biscotti and chocolate-dipped macaroni from Strozzi’s sometimes-I-go-crazy department.

The Chocolate Lady believes in fresh.

“I’d rather be up a couple of all nights than holding things over,” she said. Treats still warm from the oven or the dipping vat make the trip to her outlet.

On this day, Strozzi lifted a form tray of still-hardening chocolates from under wrap. With tiny tongs, she plucked a nut-laden concoction for sampling by mall manager Richard Sanbenero. He nodded.

“Everybody loves her personality," he said, "and her chocolate, even better.”

The Chocolate Lady and More! is open noon to 3 p.m. or until she sells out Fridays and Saturdays at Towne Square Mall, 3021 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. She takes orders from a menu of chocolates, cakes, cheesecakes, baskets and platters for special occasions, made to order. Phone (352) 346-8383.

Contact the writer at


  1. The new Maydell Drive Bridge will be a multi-use bridge to cater to cars, bicyclists and pedestrians with travel lanes, 8-foot shoulders, and a barrier-separated 5' sidewalk & 10' trail. [Hillsborough County]
    Hillsborough County closed the bridge in December 2015 after an independent engineering study found it was structurally unsound.
  2. Kayakers line up at the boat launch at Weeki Fresh Water Adventures, a kayak and stand-up paddle board rental facility in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller]
    Study recommends limiting visitors and where they are allowed to help prevent future damage.
  3. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Hernando County School District
    School Board members agree it’s not the best way to save money.
  4. As with last year’s Christmas program at Northcliffe Baptist Church, the special event this year will include music, narration and skits. [Northcliffe Baptist Church]
  5. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]
    If it helps to pull some good behavior out of my youngest, it will be $29.95 well spent.
  6. The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony June 18 for For Each 1 Reach 1. Cutting the ribbon is Lynette Mackey. For more information, call (352) 556-2768. This was taken in 2013 at her original location. [SUBMITTED PHOTO  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Rezoning also was approved for the county’s first Nissan dealership.
  7. The Legendary Sirens will perform Dec. 14 and 15 at Weeki Wachee State Park. The nostalgic show features performances by Weeki Wachee Mermaids from the 1940s to the '70s. [Handout]
    Things to do in Pasco and Hernando counties
  8. Cars pack Interstate 275 south just past downtown Tampa. Downtown Tampa is the loudest neighborhood in the Tampa metropolitan area, which is the loudest metro in the nation, according to a Zillow analysis based on noise-mapping data collected in urban and rural areas nationwide by the National Park Service. (Times (2010) [Times (2010)]
    The online real estate company used sound-mapping information collected by the National Park Service (yes, really) to compile its noisiest metros ranking.
  9. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  10. Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
    News and notes from Hernando County