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COOL HUNTING

by Julie Wolfson

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With creative flavor combos like smoked salt, blackberry sage, and spicy Mexican hot chocolate, Compartes makes their hand-dipped truffles with organic chocolate and other premium ingredients. Topping each piece with colorful graphic designs like elephants (with curry ganache), skulls (raspberry rose), and chandeliers (hazelnut gianduja). For a company that has been around for almost sixty years, Compartes approach to chocolate is definitely not old fashioned. We talked to chocolatier Jonathan Grahm to find out more about what makes Compartes chocolate so distinctive.

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How do you keep Compartes relevant and up to date for your customers?
What I did with Compartes was pretty much restart it from the ground up. I kept the name and some of the recipes that I really loved, but basically reinvented and reimagined the whole company. A couple of years ago, I also became very fascinated with organic ingredients and changed my whole lifestyle, then I decided to do the same with all of the ingredients I use in the chocolate. We get seasonal produce and herbs from the farmers market that we infuse into the chocolates. I find ethnic markets, I google exotic ingredients and I'm always going and trying new types of food and dishes to experience new spices and flavors that I haven't tried before.

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What is your favorite Compartes truffle flavor?

Continue reading and see more images after the jump.

My favorites are the smoked sea salt and the honey peanut butter sea salt. I love the combination of savory and sweet and of course chocolate and salt. Although, I must admit that my newest creations are always my favorite.

What new flavors do you have available?
For holiday, flavors will include blackberry and sage, apple pie, gingerbread, fig and balsamic, olive oil and rosemary, cinnamon latte, cardamom and coconut and much more. Our flavors are seasonal so they are constantly changing.

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Compartes chocolates are also sold in Tokyo. Why do you think artisanal chocolates are so popular there?
Compartes won first place in a chocolate competition in Tokyo a couple of years ago. They really love artisanal goods in Japan and I think they are very much about quality rather than quantity. They really appreciate handcrafted goods and are willing to spend money for good products. My chocolate appeals to our Japanese fans as they have the beautiful design elements coupled with exotic flavors that they haven't experienced in chocolate before. We will be opening a store in Tokyo hopefully by the end of 2010. I love Tokyo and I'm so excited to bring Compartes chocolates directly to the people of Japan in our own retail space.

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The truffles feature colorful graphic designs. How are the designs put onto the chocolates? How do you choose new designs for each flavor?
For the designs, I basically just use what I like and what I'm into at the moment, right now I am loving my antler prints. We have lightning bolts. Geometric prints are always fun. For Holiday we will have polar bears, penguins, nutcrackers, etc. I really love the design aspect of the chocolates as well, I want people to have a very interesting and unique experience when eating our chocolates, cool designs coupled with amazing flavors.

What's next for Compartes?
We just launched our brand-new website and online store which I am super excited about. I am also really excited about our artisan chocolate bars, I have been making those for several years in store but I recently put them all up on the website and created all these new flavors. They are made with 77% cocoa content single origin dark chocolate and studded with various ingredients like apples and cinnamon, orange peel and pink pepper, strawberry and banana, etc. I love them because they are so simple yet sophisticated. They are $8 each and make the perfect compliment to put on top of any gift, a great stocking stuffer.

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