Montana Avenue just got sweeter with the arrival of a new specialty chocolate shop near 11th Street.
John Kelly Chocolates rolled out the red carpet on May 23 for its official grand opening, and The Mirror was invited for the occasion and a chocolate tasting.
With elegantly wrapped gift boxes on display and a seductive arrangement of glossy chocolates in a glass case, the new shop feels a little like a jewelry store.
But these aren’t dainty little chocolates – they’re thick, hefty pieces of intense, satisfying chocolateness that you slice into pieces with a knife.
The chocolates are filled with fudge; or more accurately, they are pieces of fudge covered in semi-sweet Belgian chocolate. The fudge has a smooth, creamy texture that melts like silk in your mouth.
“Our chocolate is unique. It’s fudge, but the consistency is more like a ganache, and it’s coated in chocolate. It’s truffle fudge, and we sell it in individual pieces the way fine chocolate is sold,” co-owner Kelly Green told The Mirror.
The truffle fudge is offered in 17 flavors. A signature flavor is the Dark Chocolate with French Grey Sea Salt. Something great happens when chocolate meets salt – the flavors bloom and harmonize.
Caramel fans might opt for a layer of buttery caramel on top of the truffle fudge, covered in chocolate and sprinkled with a pinch of Hawaiian Alaea sea salt. The salt is of a coarser grain to stand up to the combined richness of caramel and chocolate.
One of the most popular flavors at the chocolate tasting was the Peanut Butter with Himalayan Pink Salt, made with a new recipe that’s extra creamy with white chocolate. “We’re really excited about it because we found a way to make it even better. We changed the recipe quite a bit,” said Green.
The two newest flavors are spicy: a mild, smoky Dark Chocolate with Chipotle and Ancho Chiles, and a more fiery rendition made with Habanero and Jalapeno Chiles. The heat takes a moment to kick in, then ignites with intense sweet and spice.
If you’re undecided about which flavor to get, you can ask for a tasting sample.
John Kelly Chocolates’ owners, John Kelson and Kelly Green, say it all started when they tasted a friend’s family truffle fudge recipe that was so good they thought they could turn it into a business.
Both came from corporate careers – Green had worked in advertising and Kelson in luxury-good sales – and each felt ready for a change.
It’s the first time they’ve started their own business.
“We had to build everything from the ground up,” said Kelly.
All the chocolates are hand-made in their fudge factory in Hollywood. At first the chocolates were sold through retailers like Neiman-Marcus.
Green says the chocolatey aromas wafting from the factory began to lure in people who wanted to buy the chocolate, so they opened their own retail boutique next to the factory in 2010.
Among those attracted to the factory was actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
“He was so fascinated with our factory. He even took pictures of us making the chocolate,” said Kelson. “People are really interested in things that are made by hand.”
Individual 1-oz. salted truffle fudge bars are priced at $3, and 2-oz. non-salted bars are $3.50. Gift-wrapped boxes start at $6.50 for one 2-oz. truffle fudge.
John Kelly Chocolates is located at 1111 1/2 Montana Avenue. For more information, call 310.899.0900 or visit johnkellychocolates.com.