John & Kira's Handcrafted, Locavore-Friendly Chocolates

Philadelphia-based John & Kira's crafts lustworthy treats using ingredients from local farms and gardens.

Photo by Nick Ferrari
Photo by Nick Ferrari

What do a husband-and-wife team of chocolatiers exchange on Valentine's Day? "Not chocolate, that's for sure," says John Doyle, who, along with Kira Baker-Doyle, runs the Philadelphia-based John & Kira's. As they enjoy their fancy dinners and roses, the rest of us can swap the duo's handcrafted sweets, which highlight flavors from sustainable and artisan producers: Mint chocolates use leaves grown by students at a nearby elementary school; coffee-whiskey squares get their kick courtesy of Mut Vitz Coffee Cooperative, a fair-trade Mexican co-op owned directly by coffee farmers; salted-caramel honeybees are filled with Pennsylvania basswood honey that's lightly caramelized. "We straddle locavore instincts and a national audience," says Doyle, who works with local gardens and rooftop apiaries across the country; partnerships now span from Hawaii to Washington, D.C. To sample the bounty, try the Bee My Love Bug Tower, a mix of ganache-filled chocolates, caramel honeybees, drunken figs, and dark-chocolate ladybugs. ($189, johnandkiras.com)

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  • JohnKY

    Particularly in its original incarnation as Jubilee Chocolates, John & Kira's was an inspiration to a whole generation of chocolatiers who wanted to do slow chocolate.

    Re the "drunken figs" (mentioned above), however, it should be noted that the real pioneer of Drunken Figs was the Brooklyn-based eco-artisanal chocolatier CocoaVino, which introduced both the name "Drunken Figs" and its own confection by that name in fall 2005 (well before any other chocolatier or confectioner that was doing business online at the time).

    The Drunken Figs that CocoaVino made a sensation were not simply ganache-filled, as John & Kira's later entries were. Nor were they "soaked" in anything, as are many "drunken figs" that adopted that name.

    Rather, CocoaVino

    (1) did a small-batch reduction of organic Calimyrna (Turkish) figs and a high-end California "port";

    (2) folded that reduction in to their own fair-trade dark chocolate ganache;

    (3) piped that concoction in to whole organic Calimyrna (Turkish) figs; and

    (4) dipped the figs in fair-trade dark chocolate.

    This labor-intensive, small-batch attention to detail is one reason why, in 2010, CocoaVino's Drunken Figs were "four for $26," while John & Kira's still are "12 for $36."

    No doubt, John & Kira's business decision also helps to explain why they still are in business, while CocoaVino closed in December 2010.

    But it's important to get the creative credit right.

    A flipbook of CocoaVino's press kit --- including early kudos for its Drunken Figs from Food & Wine, the New York Times, Daily Candy and the Washington Post --- is here.