Wednesday, June 27, 2012

John Kelly Chocolate Truffle Fudges and Visiting the Chocolate Factory!

I first had John Kelly chocolate (truffle fudges) at Corkbar and remember really liking it. I didn't know where their storefront is, so I never had it after that - until I was invited to a tasting at their new Santa Monica store on Montana.

These chocolate coated "truffle fudges" are not a traditional fudge, and the richness and creaminess are closer to a ganache.
Their most popular item is the Dark Chocolate with French Grey Sea Salt.

The fudge is made with 86% dark Belgian chocolate, topped with Sel Gris de Guerande sea salt. Sure, you see a lot of chocolates with sea salt these days, but John Kelly was one of the first, and this chocolate won the Sofi Gold Award for Outstanding Chocolate in 2009. My favorite, though, was the Chocolate and Caramel with Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt. They use bigger sea salt grains for this one to stand up to the caramel.

Their newest products are two spicy fudges: Dark Chocolate with Chipotle and Ancho Chile, and Dark Chocolate with Habanero and Jalapeno Chile
The first is the milder of the two but it still got quite a bit of heat (at least for me!). You get the spiciness at the end, although it does not really linger. The second is even spicier, and more of a slow burn than a sudden kick. Neither was overwhelming though and you still can taste the sweetness and creaminess of the chocolate.

They have recently revised their recipe for the Peanut Butter fudge, topped with Himalayan Pink Salt. According to John and Kelly, peanut butter is very hard to work with as they become dry when you cook them, but who wants a dry fudge? But they've now discovered the secret ingredient to add to make it stay creamy - and it was definitely creamy!

John Kelly Chocolates was started in 2004 by two guys, John Kelson and Kelly Green who adapted an old family recipe of their friend's.
owners John Kelson and Kelly Green
Their little factory in Hollywood started producing chocolates in 2005, but they didn't open their little storefront until a while after, and did most of their business shipping them to other retailers like Neiman Marcus. Now, they've expanded their store to Santa Monica.
After hearing all about it, I wanted to see their factory in Hollywood, so I set up a tour (apparently the public can just request a tour as well!)

All the fudges are made in this copper pot (yes, I totally dipped a spoon in there and licked it), then poured onto trays by weight

After the fudge cooled off (in the fridge), they're cut into precise (or as some prefer to say, cuboids)

Then, they coat the bottom with confectioner's chocolate. I forgot what the difference between this and the other chocolate coating was, but basically this one doesn't stick.

Then, you put it through the machine which coats the rest of it in the semi sweet chocolate.
The bottom vibrates so that the chocolate coating becomes nice and even. While it's still wet, another worker draws the initial or code for that particular type of truffle with more chocolate. 
The chocolates then go through the cooling section of the machine
The finished chocolates make way to the next room, where depending on where they are getting shipped to, they may get individually wrapped in gold foil.
 That's it, folks! It's not a big factory, but they produce a couple thousand of chocolates every day! During the holidays, they have to have two shifts to finish the orders since everything is pretty much handmade.

Each 1 oz truffle fudge is almost $4, but they're so rich you really only need to eat half at a time.

John Kelly Chocolates
1111 1/2 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: (310) 899-0900
1508 N. Sierra Bonita Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046 Phone: (323) 851-3269


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