CARLSBAD — Chocolate is becoming big business in Carlsbad, despite the recession.
Alison Gerlach is founder and CEO of Allie’s Edibles, which blends fresh chocolate confections daily from the company’s kitchen near Palomar Airport.
The former investment banker with an MBA from MIT knows something about chocolate and business.
“Last year was very hard for people, but it’s a new year,” she said. “The good thing about chocolate is that it is something you can indulge in without having buyer’s remorse.”
Gerlach began her venture by spending long hours in her home kitchen during 2000 perfecting a recipe for chocolate with an artisan touch. In December 2003 she launched a manufacturing operation.
Today, Allie’s Edibles is shipped worldwide through their Web site. Chocolates are also sold in finer retail outlets including the Pannikin in Encinitas and Milton’s in Del Mar.
Costco is among new distributors the company is partnering with to create a larger national presence.
Allie’s offers classic combinations: pretzel toffee bark, butternut toffee, peanut butter, marshmallow, caramel and ganache.
Each is a personal favorite of Gerlach’s, depending on her whim at the time.
“I like pretzel toffee bark when I’m in the mood for salty and sweet,” she said. “I like marshmallow so much that I make my own. What’s better than a nice pillowy marshmallow? And it’s never not a good time for caramel.”
Gerlach reaches for ganache when she craves dark, rich chocolate.
Her secret is the simplicity and quality of ingredients: butter that is almost 100 percent clarified, vanilla from Sonoma Syrup Company in northern California and kosher gelatin from Israel. Her complete line of signature chocolates is kosher.
“Almost every time the rabbi comes to inspect the kitchen, he buys something,” she said with a laugh.
Natural preservatives give her chocolates a shelf life of four months.
Gerlach takes issue with Forrest Gump’s mother, who he quoted in the movie as saying that life was like a box of chocolates. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
“Life should be more intentional,” Gerlach said. “We want people to see what they’re getting into.”
Consequently, Allie’s one-ounce, layered chocolate squares are individually wrapped in clear cellophane. They are packaged in elegant, white boxes with handles or, for an additional charge, Lucite cases.
Allie’s offers customized labels so the chocolates can be given as holiday gifts, teachers’ gifts, baby announcements, party favors and retirement presents.
“It’s a little better than a pen or watch,” Gerlach said.
Allie’s Edibles have been popular favors at special events including the MTV Movie Awards and the Academy Awards. Celebrities Shannon Elizabeth, Cheryl Hines, Mimi Rogers, Rodney Peete and Ernie Hudson are among Allie’s devotees.
This month Allie’s will debut heart-shaped chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Cost begins at $4 for two, 1-ounce pieces and $10 for two, 3-ounce pieces. Special Valentine’s Day boxes are wrapped in pink ribbon.
Chocolate lovers can sample Allie’s candy at the Carlsbad Costco through Feb. 7 and purchase a box of 12, 1-ounce squares at a discounted price of $9.99.
After Valentine’s Day, shoppers will be able to purchase both heart-shaped and square chocolates online.
“The chocolate is made the same day it is ordered,” Gerlach said. “Orders shipped by ground to customers in Orange and San Diego counties will arrive in one day.”
Local shoppers have the additional advantage of being able to call and pick up orders weekdays at the company’s headquarters at 5671 Palmer Way, Suite J. For more information, call 888-INDULGE (463-8543). To order online visit alliesedibles.com.