The Sweet Life of Chocolatier Jason Andelman

The owner of Arlington's Artisan Confections on love, chocolate and the last thing he wants to eat on Valentine's Day.

Photo by Dan Chung

Jason Andelman’s Artisan Confections was an instant hit when it debuted in Clarendon in 2006. So the chocolatier opened a second boutique in the Mosaic District in 2012. Andelman grew up in Fairfax County and now lives in Arlington with his wife, Jane, and their two daughters, Sophie, 13, and Abigail, 9. We asked him to share a few insights into his sweet life. artisanconfections.com

How did you get into chocolate?

I went to the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, New York) for pastry. I always liked chocolate—particularly the scientific aspect of it—but that was a whole new world for me. I started working in pastry in hotels after school and doing chocolates on the side, making them at home, giving them to friends and family and then selling them.

What sets your chocolates apart from others?

People eat with their eyes first. Ours look pretty and taste great. We start with a high-quality base chocolate—Valrhona—and use excellent ingredients. They’re handmade, small-batch and at a good price point. (About $2 each.)

What’s changed since you first opened?

The chocolate world has gone crazy with variety in the last 10 years. We now work with two or three different milk chocolates and six to eight different dark chocolates.

Your favorite varieties?

Right now, 63 percent Illanka (Peruvian beans) and 46 percent Bahibe milk chocolate (Dominican Republic).

What are your newest flavors?  

Dark-chocolate bonbons with tahini-black-sesame praline; lemongrass and white chocolate; Illanka dark chocolate with a ganache center; chai tea with orange-blossom honey; a cider caramel with warm winter spices, like cinnamon and cloves; and an “Old-Fashioned” with rye whiskey and dark bitters.

The Mixology Collection sounds extra appealing.

We started that two years ago. They are six different chocolates based on six classic cocktails, using local spirits like Catoc-tin Creek rye, Green Hat Gin, whiskey from Copper Fox Distillery and Sloop Betty vodka from Maryland.

What’s in store for Valentine’s Day?

We typically do our best-seller, salted butter caramels, in heart-shaped molds. Last year we made Baileys and coffee chocolates, one with passion fruit and one with raspberry. We’ll do something similar this year.

How did you and your wife celebrate Valentine’s Day last year?

I worked until late. Then we opened a nice bottle of Burgundy and ate Girl Scout cookies. No chocolates. By the evening of Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to look at chocolate anymore.

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