Jewish traditions are changing. While many people will gather this year to celebrate Chanukah with old classics like latkes and sufganiyot (doughnuts), brisket and kugel, the latest wave of Jewish chefs and artisan food producers are embracing our culture’s foods in new and exciting ways, using traditional tastes in vibrant new creations.
Jill Sandler, owner of The Chocolatier’s Palette, started making fudge over 15 years ago for family and friends as holiday presents. She started with four flavors, then eight, then twelve, giving everyone a unique taste experience they couldn’t get anywhere else. “Incredibly, in those days I would wrap and label each individual square [hundreds of pieces]. Then I would ship about 40 pounds of fudge around the country.” She was up to 23 flavors when she decided to open her own business. She found a commercial kitchen and started The Chocolatier’s Palette.
Sandler’s desire to create new fudge flavors stems from her early food experimentations as a child. She used recipes as a guide rather than follow them exactly, creating unique flavor profiles. As an adult, she traveled extensively, visiting local food markets looking for new and unusual food creations.
Today those experiences, combined with high-quality ingredients, like Belgian chocolate and all-natural, gluten-free ingredients, are the basis for her artisanal, small-batch fudges. When Sandler is out selling, or at food tastings, she delights in watching people try the fudge for the first time. Even people who swear they hate fudge get a dreamy look on their faces when they let it melt in their mouths. Each piece is a work of art, smooth and rich, with delicately layered flavors that slowly reveal themselves.
Holidays are when her creativity soars with unexpected flavor combinations. From Passover to Rosh Hashanah to Chanukah, her fudge flavors invoke the traditional tastes in new and exciting ways. “I adore making people feel special through chocolate, and I love to create unique flavors for holidays” she says. For Rosh Hashanah she crafted Pomegranate-Pecan and Apples-and-Honey varieties.
This year for Chanukah she will feature Halva fudge, with hints of tahini and lemon, as well as Olive-Oil-and-Latke and Jelly-Doughnut flavors. She is always creating and looking for new, exciting varieties and loves taking on unique challenges from her customers, like creating flavors for an upcoming Greek party. So far she has nixed the idea of feta-flavored fudge, noting, “Goat cheese works much better with chocolate than feta.”
From April through November, Sandler can be found at Central Farm Markets. She also participates in local chocolate festivals. Her fudges can be purchased individually or in boxed sets, in which the combination of flavors can be customized. In addition, she creates packages for weddings and bar mitzvah parties with specially chosen flavors for the occasion.
As you celebrate Chanukah this year, light the candles, embrace family and friends and finish it off with a delicious jelly doughnut…piece of fudge!
The Chocolatier’s Palette can be found at Central Farm Markets and online.