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Monday, June 13, 2016

Indulge in Key Largo chocolates in the Florida Keys

Chocolate nirvana is hidden in a small pastel building on Highway U.S. 1 at the top of the Florida Keys. As a true chocophile, I felt like I had won the golden ticket when I opened the door to Key Largo Chocolates and inhaled the intoxicating aromas emanating from their kitchen. Here I found Kristie Thomas whipping up her homemade truffles.
With her pink headkerchief and green apron, Thomas, the only chocolatier in the Keys, came out from behind the curtain separating the kitchen from the retail space, and I saw her assistants in the back popping out hand-pressed Key lime chocolate shells that are sold at gift stores throughout the Keys.
Thomas has been baking and working with candy her whole life, but she and her husband, Bob, finally decided to take her talents large-scale last year. She developed the recipes for her chocolate shells and handmade truffles through a lot of experimentation and sources top-quality chocolate from Belgium, France and Madagascar. She explained that like a fine wine, a connoisseur would detect the different flavor notes.
"I’m creating new things all the time,” she said. “I made a spice truffle to taste like pumpkin. I haven’t had a chance to decorate them yet, but would you like to try one?”
In the name of research, of course, I had to sample this delectable blending of spicy flavors in a dark creamy ganache filling that evoked the essence of pumpkin pie, albeit one that’s been dipped in chocolate. (Now there’s an idea for Christmas dinner!) Next, I tried a Key lime seashell, dark Key lime chocolate bars sprinkled with salty pistachios, and then her new peppermint bark.
I selected several more gem-like truffles from the large glass display case to take home: coconut topped with toasted shavings, orange imprinted with a modern tropical motif, chocolate covered caramel with a dash of sea salt, dark chocolate raspberry made with real pulp, and dark chocolate Key lime topped with a dusting of edible green glitter.
I’m already planning my return trip to try her next creations: holiday hazelnut toffee and a passionfruit truffle with triple sec.
If you can’t make to their shop at mile marker 100 in Key Largo, visit their website -- they ship -- at or call 305-852-1791.