Aarti Khosla with samples of the Le Rouge chocolates she makes by hand. —Patricia Gay photo
Aarti Khosla doesn’t do anything quiet or small. So when she started a handmade chocolate business, she decided to make truffles and molded chocolates with bold flavors, such as intense raspberry, pistachio and saffron, Irish ale, Sichuan pepper, and wasabi ginger.
“When it comes to making chocolates, I like the idea of bringing a little bit of the world back home,” Ms. Khosla said in an interview at her Weston home.
Dusted with intense colors, Ms. Khosla’s handmade chocolates are as interesting and beautiful as those produced by such renowned chocolatiers as Norman Love. So it’s hard to believe Ms. Khosla has been making chocolates for just one year.
Her chocolate business is called Le Rouge — Handmade Chocolates by Aarti. Rouge, the French word for red, is her favorite color.
A shimmering selection of Le Rouge handmade truffles using fine Belgian chocolate. —Patricia Gay photo
Ms. Khosla’s taste for exotic flavors stems from her Indian background (she was born in New Delhi) and her travels around the world.
She is always on the go. Although she and her husband, Inder, and children, Anisha and Rishav, moved to Weston in 2009, the family spent two of the past few years living in Hong Kong.
Now firmly back in Weston, Ms. Khosla, a former financial service representative with the Barnum Group and buyer at J.C. Penney, found herself in the unusual position of having time on her hands. “I was so used to traveling that when we got back from Hong Kong, it seemed so quiet here,” she said.
Opting to stay home and tend to her children as they wend their way through the school years, Ms. Khosla also felt the need to take up a hobby. “I love cooking, so I decided to do something I loved. For me, cooking has always been my sanity factor, it’s my passion,” she said.
She particularly enjoys desserts, but Indian desserts are often very sweet for her taste. So she got the idea to create a line of handmade chocolates using the finest ingredients and not just full of sugar.
A cascade of Le Rouge chocolate party favors.
“I have a quest for perfection. So I thought, If I were looking for the perfect gift what would I go for? Chocolates!” she said.
But making fine chocolate takes a lot of skill and is not for the faint of heart, so Ms. Khosla spent more than 200 hours taking online classes through Ecole Chocolat to earn the designation as a certified chocolatier. She even traveled to Vancouver to learn about chocolate coloring from a master chocolatier.
With a culinary education under her belt, Ms. Khosla quickly turned her hobby into a business.
She found a commercial kitchen in Weston available for her use and set out to make chocolates. “There was a bit of a learning curve at first,” she admitted.
One of her initial attempts was to make raspberry truffles. But the filling was too liquidy for the chocolate shell and it quickly seeped out. She adapted the recipe by creating a soft raspberry caramel for her Intense Raspberry Truffle — so problem solved.
Ms. Khosla uses the finest ingredients she can find for her chocolates and uses only fair trade vegan Belgian chocolate, and organic and local ingredients for the fillings.
Le Rouge chocolate mendiant features a pistachio, almond, and cranberry. —Patricia Gay photo
She pays close attention to every detail about her chocolate business and spent a long time choosing just the right packaging and bright red boxes for her chocolates. “The first boxes I chose weren’t red enough. The ones I’m using now are just right,” she said.
To get a feel for the business, Ms. Khosla has attended Chocolate World Expos at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk and on Long Island, and has displayed her wares at farmers’ markets in Westport, New Canaan and Redding.
At the Norfield Grange Fair in September, her English toffee and orange-infused almond clusters were awarded first-prize blue ribbons.
She makes all her chocolates in small batches and sells them online through mail order. Her confections have also been featured as favors for weddings and corporate events.
Some of the exotic flavors used in her chocolates are:
• Intense Raspberry, raspberry-infused soft caramel.
• Ale Truffles, Irish ale-flavored ganache.
• Serious Caffeine Fix, espresso-infused ganache.
• Apple Pie à la Mode, apples with cream.
• Guava Chili Mango, fruity with a kick of heat.
• Sizzling Sichuan, dark chocolate with the intense heat of Sichuan peppers.
• Masala Chai, chai with hints of cardamom and cinnamon.
• Halva Heaven, halva and saffron-infused ganache.
• Kesar Pista Delight, pistachio and saffron.
• Wasabi Ginger, wasabi-infused ganache with candied ginger.
• Paan Bahaar, beetle leaves and preserved rose petals in fennel-infused dark chocolate.
In addition to truffles and molded chocolates, she makes her award-winning English toffee and orange-infused almond clusters, as well as Mendiants — chocolate disks featuring almonds, pistachios and dried cranberries, and sprinkled with gold sugar.
Chocolate menorah made by Le Rouge for the holidays. —Patricia Gay photo
For those wanting just a nibble of fine chocolate, she makes tiny chocolate squares studded with a single hazelnut or almond.
She has also made special limited-edition chocolate confections, including a chocolate menorah for Hanukah and a chocolate diya lamp for the Indian holiday Diwali.
While most of her confections are covered in dark chocolate, Ms. Khosla is flexible, and customers may order milk or white chocolate if they prefer. She’s also open to ideas and suggestions for new flavors.
“These are the perfect chocolates for those who enjoy the finer things in life,” she said.
To purchase Ms. Khosla’s chocolates, visit her website, lerougebyaarti.com or her Facebook page, Le Rouge-Handmade Chocolates by Aarti, or call 203-293-6106.