bits and bites

The Art of Chocolate

By Gilda Raczkowski / Photography By Coline LeConte | October 31, 2016
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Head chocolatier Charlotte Kryska creating her unique and artistic bon bons.

If the word truffle conjures up a ho-hum lump of chocolate ganache, it’s time to up your game. At Alexander’s Patisserie in Mountain View, head chocolatier Charlotte Kryska creates exquisite bonbons: hand-painted, exotically flavored, shining spheres of chocolate that redefine the term small indulgence with every bite.

Unlike traditional truffles, Alexander’s bonbons include 24 flavors made with Valrhona chocolate, both dark and milk. Add-ins include house-made praline, gelee and marshmallows—all which deliver on the fantastically named flavors. Top sellers such as Fleur de Sel, Hazelnut and Passion Fruit are accompanied by more out-there favorites, like Speculoos S’mores, Honey Fennel Bee Pollen and Gin Me Up Scotty. Every month and season, Kryska creates unique flavors, such as summer’s Mango Ice Cream or Cherry Whiskey and fall’s Milled Wine, Hot Toddy and Peppermint Earl Grey.

Head chocolatier Charlotte Kryska creating her unique and artistic bon bons.

Flavors aside, these bonbons are a feast for the eyes—each one a perfectly round, vibrantly colored orb, coated with artistic swirls and color blocking, reminiscent of a giant marble. To achieve this effect, Kryska and her team paint tinted cocoa butter into half-round molds, sometimes using an airbrush and other tools to get the right effect. They add filling and seam the half rounds to form spheres. It’s a two-day process for each batch, the result being a perfect intersection of food and art.

The designs are inspired by pop culture, art, nature, space and trending topics. Kryska has designed chocolate balls for the Star Trek movie release, painted tiny globes for Earth Day and created specially colored versions for company events and weddings.

Visitors entering the bakery are first attracted to the yeasty smells that greet them: golden croissants, perfectly formed tarts and brightly tinted French macarons. However, children beeline for the orderly rows of bonbons, shining brightly on the back wall of the store. It is here that regulars anxiously search for their favorite flavor and newcomers squint at descriptions that defy comparison. “Try the Lavender Cassis,” encourages Amber Umbarger, store manager. But how to pass up Tahitian Vanilla or Coconut Rum?

The solution: a six-pack that handsomely houses the bonbons in a black, heavy duty, branded box, with colored ribbon adding a seasonal touch.

Alexander’s accepts online orders and ships out of state, next day air, complete with a cold pack to ensure the bonbons are delivered in perfect condition. Orders are currently taken via email; make sure to plan in advance so that your favorite flavor is available when the craving hits.

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