DINING OUT: Chocolate treasures at JoMart
Over half a century of chocolate and candy-making has made JoMart Chocolates a staple in Brooklyn homes and office snack drawers, but it is the family-owned business’s unwavering commitment to quality that sets it apart.
“My father believed that the real competition was [not in who makes the most money, but] in making something better than someone else,” explained third-generation candyman Michael Rogak, whose grandfather started the family business making penny candy.
Today, the kaleidoscopic variety of flavors and varieties includes something for virtually every palate. Prefer milk chocolate? You’ll find plenty of options. Is dark chocolate your dream sweet? The same applies. Indeed, Jo Mart makes 120 to 130 different loose chocolates ($27.50 per pound), plus molded novelties in the thousands and 40 different chocolate bars
The salty dark chocolate caramel was a triangular wedge of satisfaction, the sweet, creamy caramel contrasting soulfully with the chocolate exterior, and again with the sprinkling of coarse salt on its top.
The raspberry caramel robed in milk chocolate was a totally different experience, the fruity caramel center sweet but not too sweet, a perfect companion to its creamy exterior.
The vanilla marshmallow robed in dark chocolate was an airy confection – completely unlike bagged marshmallows — whose lightness was grounded by the crisp chocolate exterior.
Crunchy coffee beans held together by dark chocolate were the stars of the Dark Espresso Cluster, the slightly bitter pods providing a foil for the chocolate.
Both the Almond and Pistachio Buttercrunch combine chocolate, toothsome hard caramel and chopped nuts for a treat that is smooth and sweetly spectacular.
The Milk Chocolate Double Dip Pretzel was a personal favorite for one of us – in part for the Proust-like memories of childhood it evokes – but also just because it is so darned good, thanks to the counterpoint between the crispy, salty pretzel and the silken milk chocolate coating.
Also conjuring the writer’s early youth was the Continental Truffle, a square treat in which a slender base of dark chocolate is paired with a dense milk chocolate top. This classic is a perennial favorite, and Jo Mart’s version more than does it justice.
JoMart also masters the balance between sweet fruits and sweet/bitter chocolate, most captivatingly with the Chocolate-Dipped Cherry – the juicy cherry bursting in your mouth. The snap of the cherry’s skin is captivating and it all tastes like fruit, not candy.
The Dark Ginger also maintains the essence of its ingredients, with the kick of ginger jelly working with the bitter sweetness of the dark chocolate. Similarly, the White Chocolate with Green Tea AllStar brings the bitterness of the green tea out strongly, not overwhelmed by the chocolate.
The Cranberry-Nut Chunkie looks like a box of hidden treasure with almonds, raisins, cranberries and seeds mixing together wonderfully in every bite.
The Berries and Flakes is a fun cluster of soft fruit and lightly sweet milk chocolate, while the Pistachio Marzipan boasts a nutty filling that is visually and texturally reminiscent of the green filling in a seven-layer cookie.
For Rogak, JoMart’s chocolates are a direct result of the strong relationship between his forebears and himself, his store and his neighbors.
“I still use copper kettles from my grandfather and the stove my father brought in 1946. There’s a story behind everything in this place,” he said. “I have a relationship here that allows me to have respect. A family business is about relationships with suppliers, customers and the space.”
2917 Avenue R
Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
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