I enjoy tasting chocolate from all over the world and learning about the international artisans who work from bean to bar, but I admit the happiest find is often the one closest to home.
At the local greenmarket, amid the crowds, commerce and intoxicating smells, I spotted a small white tent, simply decorated with white plates, bow-tied white and unpainted wooden boxes and chocolates. The name on the tent, J. Williams Chocolate Company Palm Beach, was not one I knew. And no wonder; the company started only a few weeks ago, based in a small West Palm Beach office.
Chocolatier Holly McCloskey isn’t the J. Williams behind the company. That would be her father, for whom she named the company. McCloskey works out of an office on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, and creates in a commissary kitchen nearby. Her signature piece is the Monkey Bar, available in dark or milk chocolate. It has pretzel bits, caramel, peanut butter and a bit of Himalayan sea salt. The bar would topple into too-sweet if not for the salt, but it’s perfectly balanced with this addition.
J. Williams offers a small but focused list of chocolates, including truffles (hazelnut, mocha and Habanero); bonbons (cheesecake, dulce de leche); milk chocolate almond or cashew bark and chocolate-covered almonds. You can buy by the piece, the quarter, half or full pound, and have them packaged in white gift boxes or the sleek blond wood boxes, which can be custom-decorated. Prices range from $8 to $20 for a half-pound of chocolates and $20 to $36.50 for a pound. McCloskey can also take orders for custom chocolates and specialized packaging. She is still working on her website, but can be reached at (561) 379-9058 or toll-free at (888) 658-5488.
And a few more recent bar samples:
Francois Pralus 75% Cuba Trinitario: Stored for a year, it still has snap, though there was some bloom. But the taste still rings like a bell. It’s sharp and earthy and woodsy in a way that makes me wish I had not left it as the last bar in the NYC stash, or at least bought more than one.
Sweet Riot 70%: The beans are Latin American, the company is based in New York, the bar is made in Italy, and each square has twenty-one calories. The label is descriptive, colorful and fun. The bar is Fair Trade and certified organic. Yes, I got sucked into another organic bar. Blame the lure of the pretty packaging. And while this bar has that metallic kick all the organic bars seem to have, at least this one isn’t too pronounced. It’s lighter in cocoa flavor and sweeter than I expect a 70% to be, but it’s not bad.
Neuhaus 70% Extra Dark: Is it wrong to call a Belgian chocolate just ordinary? This one is. It’s not dark, or extra or strong, unlike what the label says. It’s smooth, on the sweet side, with no grainy texture. It’s pleasant, but lacks much character.
- WPB GreenMarket opens today (wptv.com)
- Chocolate: The Best Perfume Note? (bellasugar.com)
- A Quick Ode to Chocolate (thedianapetras.wordpress.com)
- Full o’ Chocolates. (kitchenmischiefs.wordpress.com)
- Chocolate Gone Wild (leoadambiga.wordpress.com)