Avocado Truffles! A Visit with Chocolatier Jean-Michel Carré

Avocado Truffles! A Visit with Chocolatier Jean-Michel Carré

By Jean-Michel Carre on Sep 26, 2018 at 02:44 PM in In The News , Events

Avocado Truffles! A Visit with Chocolatier Jean-Michel Carré

by Angela Borda

If you are like me, you saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a child and dreamed of one day being given that golden ticket to witness the magic of chocolate making. Well, today is the day. I’ve been given the golden ticket. Jean-Michel has welcomed me to his shop in Carpinteria to witness the making of his sublime chocolates. There is the busy race to pour and mold chocolate at just the right temperature, and the happy clatter of caramelized almonds rotating in a small drum, gaining a coating of chocolate. There is the focus and dedication here of a master chef. And there is, of course, the aroma. How to convey this to you I can’t tell, except that it is cocoa, rich and lovely and lifting, the smell that proceeds every bite of birthday cake, every sinking of teeth into a soft bar of chocolate, every ooh and ahh when the chocolate lava cake overflows with dark mahogany bliss. It is the scent of happiness.

Which is not to say that chocolate-making is glamorous. It’s hard work. Trays of small molds are filled, left to cool just enough, then heated again before receiving a final layer of chocolate on top. Any chef who has ever been in the middle of a time-sensitive recipe will understand the vigor and focus with which the chocolatier does not, at any point, take his eye off the chocolate. Today is particularly special because he is making a chocolate that fans of Chocolats du CaliBressan wait the entire year for: the avocado truffle!

Jean-Michel is known, rightly so, for taking unusual ingredients and balancing them so exquisitely within a chocolate that you are delighted, surprised, and want to keep eating, perhaps even gulping. And avocado, which is often used as a sweet treat in South America, is not so great a stretch for a chocolate as you might expect.

This specialty came about when Jean-Michel decided to develop a chocolate for the California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria. He says, “I had to experiment, and it took three years to get this just right. We debuted it at the chamber of commerce, and it was really popular, so we’ve been selling it since 2011. I offer them for two to three weeks in late September and the first week of October. September 25th it will be available in the store, or visit us at the Avocado Festival (10/05-10/07). People look forward to this chocolate all year.”  

Perhaps you’re not sure about the avocado? Allow me to persuade you. A dark chocolate shell is crowned with Tahitian vanilla sea salt, and inside waits a white chocolate ganache with enough avocado to give it a lovely pistachio green color. “I work more on the floral side with the avocado,” Jean-Michel muses, which explains why it almost tastes like you’re eating blossoms from an avocado tree rather than the fruit itself. He gives three distinct textures that play well against each other: the crystal crunch of salt, the snap of the dark chocolate shell, and then the creamy center, which is buttery and light. It’s simply avocado as you’ve never had it before. Stop by and try it, before they disappear!

Angela Borda is a Santa Barbara food writer who has been enjoying Chocolats du CaliBressan for years and is delighted to be sharing her chocolate experience with you.


I've been chocolate tasting before with my mom and sister (The chocolate was paired with hot tea). I was in the area and had the opportunity to come to Chocolats du Calibressan for a chocolate tasting and couldn't pass it up! On their website they offer a Chocolate Tour and Tasting which are held on the 3rd Saturday of each month at 3 PM and you must RSVP by the Wednesday prior to the event. The tours last 1 hour, include a complimentary glass of champagne and are $25/person. We were with Captain Jack's Santa Barbara Tours and this was one of our stops. When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Jill (her husband Jean-Michel is the talent behind the scenes.) Each of us got to pick any 3 chocolates from the display cases and they also provided us with sample chocolates so we could taste the various kinds. For my 3, I picked La Arcada Turtle (milk chocolate ganache with "Cajeta" Mexican milk caramel in milk chocolate turtle shell, Balsamic (salted Balsamic vinegar in a dark chocolate shell), and the Rocher (praline and milk chocolate, rolled together in caramelized diced almonds and milk chocolate). All were so delicious and I also learned a lot about the art of chocolate making (even down to how to wash the molds). I'm a chocolate lover and this place was like heaven to me.
Charlene C.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA