Chocolate is often considered a guilty pleasure, an aphrodisiac, but there is a world of difference between a Hershey bar and A-list quality confections created by true artisans. Compartes Chocolatier in Los Angeles's swank Brentwood neighborhood offers over 55 years of rich handmade history, and their tasty new twists have everyone from Oscar winners to Desperate Housewives begging for more.
"I want to keep things fun while respecting the history of chocolate making," says owner Jonathan Grahm, who at 21 is the youngest chocolatier in the United States. He learned his craft while studying the recipes of original owner Mrs. Comparte, and after much trial and error he paired her chocolate-dipped dried fruits alongside his own innovative creations: tiramisu, mango bail, jasmine tea chocolate ganache truffles, and many more. These creations are drawing in Desperate Housewives like Teri Hatcher and Nicolette Sheridan as well as celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale and Faith Evans.
"I really like to create three- [and] four-dimensional flavors and mix savory and sweet combinations," says Grahm. Case in point Grahm's signature Love Nuts, which follow his multiflavored philosophy by taking whole almonds or pecans and covering them in sweet caramel before sprinkling on savory salt, creamy milk chocolate, and then dusting the decadent delights with dark cocoa powder.
But whether you choose this sensational sack of fun or a more traditional temptation, Grahm advises putting thought into the chocolates you purchase, especially if it's for a romantic gift. "I love chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day," Grahm says, but like with any high-end chocolate, they shouldn't be refrigerated and "have to be given on the day of [purchase] to retain their freshness." Likewise, be less concerned with purchasing a huge box of cheap treats. As Grahm observes, "Valentines is special so go for the good stuff."