THERE’S chocolate and then there’s chocolate. Compartes is the latter. We love showcasing artisans who are making the effort to hand-craft their goods in the traditional methods too often missing from modern food. Not methods that are traditional for tradition’s sake, but those that preserve those fine and detailed qualities that make for culinary magic. We recently visited Brentwood’s Compartes Chocolatier for the afternoon to watch and learn as master chocolate-maker Jonathan Grahm put his 60-year old pastry kitchen to good use.
THE CHALKBOARD: WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO TRY YOUR HAND AT CHOCOLATE?
JONATHAN GRAHM: I grew up in the food business and have always been something of a foodie, especially when it comes to sweets – I could have a full meal of desserts rather than an entree any time!
Compartes has been an LA tradition since 1950. We’ve been in Brentwood for 62 years. I wanted to create a chocolate company unlike any other when I started re-imagining Compartes Chocolatier – fusing interesting flavors, exotic foods and beautiful design all into one. We’ve kept all the classic stuffed and chocolate-dipped fruits our clients rely on and added in the signature truffles!
TC: your chocolate is sourced responsibly and sustainably. tell us a little about that:
JG: It is extremely important to me to source ethically sustainable chocolate. I’ve been fond of fair-trade, single origin South American chocolate since before it was “cool”. For me, the chocolate that grows in regions such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala has such interesting characteristics – notes of the tropical fruits and flowers and rainforest regions that it grows in.
I visited Venezuela every year as a child for summer camp where I would get to literally sleep in the rainforest, so I am especially loyal to Venezuelan chocolate. We use only fair-trade chocolates where workers are being paid correct wages.
TC: WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU THAT COMPARTES BE ORGANIC AND USE NATURAL INGREDIENTS?
JG: When we make the blackberry sage truffle (pictured), we use fresh berries and sage from organic farmers and infuse those ingredients straight into the chocolate. When I make my passion fruit truffles, which are one of my absolute favorites, I blend tons of organic passion fruit into a dark chocolate ganache. We don’t add preservatives or flavorings, just simple ingredients. Pure flavors are very important to me.
TCM: TELL US WHY THE STYLISH NEW PACKAGING MATTERS SO MUCH TO YOU:
JG:Our new look was inspired by iconic brands like Gucci, Prada and Rodarte. The look is a throw back to our 1950s heritage, yet looks fresh and new. And nowhere else in the country can you find chocolates with chevron, skulls, plaid or art deco patterns!
TCM: WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATE TO MAKE? TO EAT?
JG: I love to make our Sangria truffle. I make my own sangria and blend it into a dark chocolate ganache. It’s finished with a pink art deco print that is just so chic.
TCM: WHAT ARE YOUR MOST DEVOTED CUSTOMERS’ FAVORITES?
JG: Fresh takes on nostalgic classics. Our Sea Turtles are made with a smoked salt-infused caramel, fresh roasted nuts, chocolate and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Our ever-popular jars of honey + peanut butter + sea salt are the most delicious peanut butter thing you will ever taste!
TCM: DO WE DARE ASK YOU TO SHARE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATE RECIPES?
JG: My chocolate chip cookies. They aren’t sold at the store, but I bring them along to special occasions. They might just be the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever taste. Pair with Pressed Juicery Almond Milk and you’ll be set!
Jonathan's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
8 oz butter, room temperature (Plugra butter or european style butter is best)
1 1/4 c dark brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 fresh eggs
1 1/2 tsp good Tahitian vanilla extract
3 c pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
24oz 65-75% cocoa content dark chocolate buttons
(you can pick up a Compartes dark bar and cut it up into flat chunks)
In a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, using a paddle, cream butter and sugars until all have been combined. Do not over beat.
Add eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix for 10-15 seconds.
Sift pastry flour, baking soda and salt together and slowly add it to the mixer while on low. When you see that almost all the flour has been incorporated, add the chocolate chunks/buttons and mix just until combined.
Using an ice cream scooper or by hand, form the dough into balls the size of golf balls.
The key with this recipe is not over-beating/over-combining anything so you don't end up with flat cookies and they have a great texture.
Place balls of cookie dough on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.
Check them, rotate and bake for another 4-6 minutes or until edges are golden, I like my cookies underdone so I err on the side of 2-4 minutes.
Let cool completely or grab fork to eat directly while hot, I love them best when they are fresh and hot, and enjoy with a nice tall glass of Almond Milk!