Photography by Hailey Hill.

John Spencer had never eaten a chocolate truffle, let alone made one. But he had just started a business and wanted to give Christmas gifts to the people who had helped him at the county clerk’s office. After all, that’s what all the lawyers did.

“I didn’t have enough money to buy gifts, so I decided I’d try to make chocolate truffles,” Spencer says. 

He found a recipe online and passed them out to the clerks. Next time he was in the office, a man yelled, “That’s him. That’s him right there.”

“I thought, ‘What did I do?’” Spencer says. “This woman says, ‘You made the truffles. I’m a chocoholic. I’ve got to have more.’”

Spencer started making truffles at Christmas to give to family and friends. When he retired from law enforcement, he thought about selling chocolate commercially as a way to beat boredom. He consulted a French-certified chocolatier about the best flavors and practices before launching Lakewood Chocolates three years ago. 

The only equipment he needed to get started was a chocolate warmer and a few molds.

“A chocolate warmer is the most critical thing,” Spencer says. “You’ve got to keep the temperature at 88 to 90 degrees. When the chocolates get out of temper, they get gray looking. There’s no telling how many hundreds of dollars I went through to get it right. Chocolate is one of the most temperamental foods you can deal with.” 

Spencer starts by painting the molds with a colored cocoa butter. Common household items, such as a toothbrush and a paint brush, are used to create the elegant, eye-catching designs. Then he pours dark chocolate into dome- or heart-shaped molds to create a hard outer shell. Each is filled with one of his four ganache flavors: raspberry, coffee, matcha tea or amaretto and Grand Marnier.

For Easter, Spencer makes a hollow chocolate egg that, when cracked, releases a handful of his signature truffles.

During the busy season from November to May, Spencer makes chocolate three to four times a week from his nearly 100-year-old house. He works eight hours each day and produces about 400 truffles. 

“I’d like to have a walk-in shop, but then it goes from being an artsy craft project to a business,” Spencer says. “I limit myself on sales because I don’t want to be swamped with it. I want to turn out a good product.”

His first commercial retailer was The T-Shop in Lakewood. Now he sells exclusively at Talulah & HESS and the Coffee Company in East Dallas, as well as Lost Oak Winery in Burleson. A box of eight truffles costs $20, and a box of 15 costs $30.

“I enjoy working with chocolate,” Spencer says. “I should have been a chef instead of a police officer.”

Lakewood Chocolates, 214.212.4092, Find assorted boxes at Coffee Company, 6038 La Vista Drive, and Talulah & HESS, 5810 Live Oak St. 

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