Monday, May 25, 2020

If ever a name fit the concept, Coco Jolie is it. French for “beautiful chocolate,” Coco Jolie is a kosher, vegan chocolatier with confections so exquisite, you can’t help but gaze admiringly before taking your first bite and giving in to the chocolate goodness. Coco Jolie’s artistic bon bons are small jewels of colorfully decorated chocolate shells filled with caramel, ganache, fruit or nuts. As another form of edible art, Coco Jolie has chocolate bars with similar fillings. Warning: If you’re buying Coco Jolie chocolates as a hostess gift, get something for yourself before you’re tempted to open the box.

Miriam Gitelman, who lives in Englewood, opened Coco Jolie at 12 North Dean Street last week, but she has been selling online, at pop-up shops and farmers markets, for more than a year. An architect by training and a digital marketing professional for the last 20 years, she fulfilled her dream of studying at the International Culinary Center in New York in 2016 and obtaining her Professional Pastry Arts degree. Chocolate making was one of her hardest subjects but she was smitten with the project. She kept practicing, studying with master chocolatiers and giving her chocolates to lucky friends and family who were extremely enthusiastic. Soon, she began producing chocolate for paying customers.

While working as a co-founder and COO of an e-commerce business for the last five years, she continued to use her home kitchen to develop her chocolate business. A year and a half ago, Gitelman began Coco Jolie and rented space in a commercial kitchen in Dumont for production. She sold in pop-up shops and trade shows as well as online and to caterers and event planners.

“People kept asking me, ‘Where’s your store?’ and I realized it was time to take the next step for the business, and build out a space made specifically for chocolate production and retail,” she said. “I was getting ready to leave the e-commerce company and this space in Englewood came up. I thought, ‘It’s now or never,’ and my supportive husband agreed.”

Gitelman researched and analyzed the kosher chocolate market to determine what other chocolatiers were doing, what people were buying and what they were spending—as well as what was missing in the kosher confections market. She was also determined to have her products harmonize with her beliefs. Her products are kosher, vegan, organic and sourced from fair trade organizations.

The chocolates are pareve, and certified kosher by the OU. To achieve the classic French texture made with butter and cream, Gitelman “veganized” her recipes by using ingredients such as organic coconut cream and plant-based butter. To make her gorgeous bon bons, she paints the molds with cocoa butter designs, makes the chocolate shells and fills them with more than 15 different flavored ganaches, pralines, caramels and fruit fillings. All are made with real, natural and fresh ingredients.

Coco Jolie chocolates are available at several price points. They start at $7 for a bar, and the price increases depending on the choices and amounts requested for a gift box. She will soon be adding new flavors of bars, chocolate cookies, a wider range of chocolate dipped fruit, nuts, snacks and gift baskets with varied assortments of products.

In the near future, Gitelman plans to add interactive happenings.

“I want it to be more than a store, eventually something that is part of the community, with small events and classes,” she said. “I want to share my love of this product and the story of chocolate with as many people as possible.”

Visit www.cocojolie.com  and follow on Instagram @cocojoliechocolates

By Bracha Schwartz