Local chocolate maker talks chocolate and self control
In the chocolate biz since 2004, Jennifer Ashby’s consuming passion for making high-end artisan confections knows no bounds. She wants to create exquisite-looking chocs made from real food—and that means fresh cream, real butter and the best Swiss Grand Cru chocolate. Ashby also finds a way to use locally sourced organic fruits and herbs in her chocolates, so when you bite into a Meyer lemon lavender truffle, it tastes of the real McCoy. Almond pralines are filled with delicious almond paste, and the sea salt caramels are sprinkled with salt from the Monterey Bay. The chocs are made by hand, they’re not swamped in sugar and there are no “fillers” of low-end stuff. We asked Ashby a few questions about her life in the chocolate business and her 8-year-old twins; daughter Berkeley and son Ferron.
What is Ashby Confections all about?
Jennifer Ashby: We strive to create the best chocolates and confections possible. We work to create original flavor combinations as well as adhering to the classics. We enjoy being inspired by seasonal local ingredients. Quality is paramount so we make every effort to use the best ingredients available. Aesthetics are equally important. We experiment with colors, shapes, patterns, textures and other materials to make a beautiful display.
How do you juggle 8-year-old twins and a candy store?
My kids come in here and run around like Tasmanian devils. So I had a sit down with them and explained that at some point they need to self regulate. I told them I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ anymore. If they want to come in my store and eat two of everything, they could do that and see how they felt. The first time I did that my daughter ate more than I would have liked her to, and she also took home 27 pieces of candy. Since then, she has really mellowed out. But my son understood right away—and he’s now very excited to work with me as soon as I let him.
What’s a fabulous favorite that you can’t make enough of?
The ghost chili caramel! But I can’t make enough English toffee. It’s a secret family recipe and I’m the only person who makes it. And I can only make small manageable batches because of the way that it’s made. I have to pour it out, melt chocolate on it, sprinkle nuts, then flip it over, then melt more chocolate on it and sprinkle on more nuts.
Ashby Confections, 16 C Victor Sq, Scotts Valley. 454-8299. Ashbyconfections.com. PHOTO: We’re salivating for a box of these chocolates made by Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley. KEANA PARKER