My Recipe Box

Beautiful to Look at, Exquisite to Eat

by Amy Albert

fromFine Cooking
Issue 76

As pastry chef of Kansas City’s celebrated American restaurant, Christopher Elbow had been experimenting with color, hand painting, and inventively flavored fillings for the restaurant’s chocolates. Soon, gourmet markets and high-end stores started clamoring for them and Christopher struck out on his own. He opened Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2003.

Requests for the chocolates got so overwhelming that he had to turn down orders. “You just can’t mass produce these,” he says, affirming his commitment to remaining small scale. Christopher’s imaginative flavorings range from Spanish saffron and Vietnamese cinnamon to caramel fleur de sel and espresso with lemon. Although he sometimes misses the restaurant work, he loves the quieter, more meditative pace of having his own workshop. “My focus is much narrower,” he admits, “but I feel like a real artisan now.”

Finger painting the bottom of the mold with four different colors produces a surface look that’s loose but elegant. Christopher lines the molds with white chocolate and taps out the excess for the most even coverage. With precision characteristic of the best pastry chefs, Christopher fills each chocolate by hand. He uses flavors that complement but don’t overwhelm the chocolate. His passionfruit and chocolate ganache, for example, is extraordinary for its balance. The filling has a velvety texture, and the coating has that glossy luster and snap that’s the sign of beautifully crafted chocolate.

Photos: Scott Phillips and Amy Albert

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