The Choco-List: 50 Chocolate Things We Love
As the drugstore aisles shift from red cellophane wrapped boxes of mediocre milk chocolates to a circus of Cadbury Creme Eggs and over-processed cocoa bunnies, we’ve decided to turn our attention to the good stuff. You know, the real stuff. Hand-crafted artisan truffles and single-sourced cacao at the highest percentages we can find. And also the weird stuff — like chocolate-dipped potato chips and cocoa cabernet. This list, unranked and culled from our collective chocolate experiences, is our Valentine’s Day gift to you, dear readers. We hope you’ll use it to clean your palette before it gets covered in a film of Cadbury slime. (By K. Tighe, Thaddeus Phipps, Pamela Birchard, Kristen Kuchar, Cynthia Salaysay, and Jackie Varriano)
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies from Levain Bakery
One writer for the New York Times called these “divine” — gushing, most likely, after a bite of one of these overgrown cookies. Weighing six ounces and packed with chips and walnuts, the New York City bakery’s cookie has become the stuff of dreams, often imitated, judging by the number of copycat recipes in the blogosphere.
2. Double Pain Au Chocolate from Tartine Bakery
San Francisco’s Tartine has gained a nationwide following for the complexity of its breads and its morning buns dappled with orange-blossom syrup. It should come as no surprise then, that its double pain au chocolate means business. With twin lumps of Sharffen Berger chocolate running along flaky insides and a crackling amber crust, the large, yet perfect pastry wasn’t made for sharing.
3. James Brown Cupcake from Sugar Mama’s Bake Shop
Sugar Mama’s James Brown cupcake is made with a robust chocolate grown in France. The moist cake is topped with smooth, rich, and buttery cream frosting and sprinkles. Everything in the Austin, TX shop is made from scratch, guaranteeing true and unique flavors in every bite.
4. Vegan Truffles from Five Star
It’s hard to find vegan truffles — but finding good ones that don’t break the bank is nearly impossible. Thank goodness for Five Star. At fifty to seventy-five cents a piece, skinny vegans can fatten themselves on dark chocolate truffles made with soy milk. One of the special things about this San Francisco outfit is that they’ve never had to advertise. Their truffles have been selling for the last ten years mainly by word of mouth.
5. Chocolate Bread from Balthazar Bakery
Light, soft, and dotted with bittersweet chocolate, one bite of this bread from New York’s Balthazar Bakery could potentially induce a feeding frenzy, especially when eaten warm. Not quite bread-y enough to be bread, nor chocolate-y enough to be cake, the loaf has been featured everywhere from NPR to Martha Stewart. Try it with Nutella or dipped in good olive oil.
6. Mexican Hot Chocolate Gelato from Black Dog Gelato
This thick, rich treat tastes just like Mexican Hot Chocolate, expect super frigid and ultra-creamy. In the form of gelato, a pleasurable sweetness definitely comes up front. But within each bite, the sugary delight soon fades into a spicy cayenne flavor. We don’t know of any gelato that’s mastered this balance of hot and cold so well.
7. Maker’s Choice Assortment from Mast Brothers Chocolate
This set of ten chocolate bars, hand-selected by the Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, beats out any other gift. The pieces come in a variety of flavors, including salt and pepper to spice things up a bit. Made from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Madagascar beans, these bars are the real deal. You don’t know what you’re gonna get, but hey, that’s life.
8. Bergers Cookies
Since the 1800s, Maryland’s best cookies have reached far and wide. Vanilla wafers topped with chocolate ganache are a melt-in-your-mouth experience no one can deny. Found in local grocery stores, the recipe for this guilty pleasure remains almost identical to the original.
9. Chocolate Shanghai Soup Dumpling from Rickshaw Dumpling Bar
The black sesame crusted mochi wrapper is filled with melted Belgium chocolate. It’s the perfect hot, melted-chocolate gooey dessert that practically explodes in your mouth. After one bite, your dumpling paradigm will be shattered.
10. Organic Chocolate Stout from Bison Brewing
This award-winning organic stout is a satisfying, mellow drink with just enough chocolate to deepen its flavor. The Berkeley brewery uses cocoa in the mash and five different malts to produce a black stout with a long-lasting creamy head, dark chocolate aromas, and a yeasty sweetness.
11. La Parisienne Couture Cocoa Drinking Chocolate from Vosges
This bittersweet Parisian-style chocolate is the perfect tonic to warm you up on a winter day. The flavor titillates your every taste bud and the texture is so rich it’s difficult to consider this to be anything less than a gourmet treat. No wonder this hot chocolate was voted the best out of 74 other contenders by Rachel Ray.
12. Baking Chocolate from Scharffen Berger
Want to know the secret to the best cookies and brownies? Excellent butter and Scharffen Berger Baking Chocolate. The San Francisco company, a pioneer in the trend toward domestic-side artisanal chocolate, makes a clean, deeply cacao product without a harsh aftertaste that the likes of Alice Medrich and David Liebovitz have long appreciated.
13. Chocolate Bouchon from Bouchon
Consider it to your edification to eat everything that Thomas Keller puts in front of you, including this signature bite from from Bouchon Bakery. Fudgier than a brownie, with Callebaut chocolate chips scattered throughout, the thread spool-shaped confections can now be baked at home with a mix from Williams Sonoma.
14. Anatomical Heart from Alma Chocolate
This Portland, OR “(mostly) sin-free chocolate” producer puts a nice twist on the indulgent treat. The chocolates are truly works of art – sculptured icons that contain edible 23K gold. Purchasing a chocolate in the shape of an anatomical heart will surely show a loved one how you feel while at the same time offering them a rich, dark, and smooth delicacy.
15. Chocolate Croissant from Cafe Besulu
There’s nothing like having pastries for breakfast the European way. This shop has mastered the baking of chocolate croissants, so you won’t feel ashamed to eat one at the start of your day. This family-owned small business will have you licking your fingers after your second flaky on the outside, gooey on the inside chocolate croissant.
16. Brownies from Fat Witch
It’s no surprise these brownies made the list of Oprah’s favorite things — they’re completely natural and absolutely delicious. Varieties can include walnuts, caramel, dried cherries, cappuccino chocolate chips, and even oatmeal and coffee. Just buy the mix and make any delicious blend at home. Not only will your oven remain sensuous for days, but your taste buds will also explode with flavor. Yes, explode.
17. Double Chocolate Stout from Young’s
This beer has a slightly sweet, chocolaty taste from the soothing dark chocolate blend, and still maintains that deep, roasted flavor of a stout with a clean and crisp finish. Don’t let the overwhelming chocolate content fool you into thinking it doesn’t have a good kick, since it still maintains it’s buzz with 5.2 percent ABV. The combination provides a full-flavored sipping experience.
18. TomKat Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Roasting Plant
In New York City, versions of the chocolate chip cookie are as plentiful as people, but the Roasting Plant seems to have dialed in an iconic version. Crisp, chewy, and baked in-house five times a day using TomKat Bakery’s dough, everyone’s hands are flecked in smears of Callebaut chocolate after eating what’s generally understood to be one of the best chocolate chip cookies in New York.
19. Fudge from Joann’s of Mackinac Island
With more than 30 flavors to choose from, this fudge from Michigan’s famous island is a local favorite. When you walk into the shop, the smell of sugar and butter grabs you as you watch the fudge makers in action.
20. Marquis Bars from Sans Souci
Something about these flourless pseudo-brownies make them rich and fluffy. Add a bit of truffle, sandwich it between mocha ganache, and it will rid you of all your worries. No wonder the name means “carefree” in French.
21. Chocolate Bitters from Scrappy’s Bitters
Who says an Old Fashioned must be served with traditional bitters? Adding a splash of cocoa into your cocktail makes the experience much more pleasing. Scrappy’s even adds a touch of vanilla, which makes your drinks a little less bitter and a bit more smooth.
22. Bicerin from Caffe Lavazza in Eataly
Lavazza has succeeded in serving a covetable version of Turin, Italy’s specialty drink to New Yorkers. This beverage layers smooth hot chocolate, clean hot espresso, and cool heavy cream. Don’t be shy ordering this unique bicerin, even if you can’t pronounce it. It’s worth taking that chance. Try to remember it’s “beet-chureen.”
23. Chocolate-Smothered Pretzels from Asher’s
Asher’s creamy and smooth chocolate, ranging from dark and delightful to milky and light, smothers crispy pretzels to give that perfect balance that meets both a sweet and salty delight. Nothing can pair with chocolate to create that best bite but a bit of crunch at the end.
24. Double Chocolate Malt from Fosselman’s
Fossleman’s old-fashioned soda shop in Alhambra, CA serves up handmade premium chocolate ice cream within a double chocolate malt. An additional 48 flavors are available if you’re feeling extra chocolaty and a bit frisky. This sweet treat is both rich and thick, and not to mention, ultimately refreshing.
25. Peanut Butter Honey Square from Bespoke Chocolates
A genuine mix of organic peanut butter, honey from a local source, a bit of praline for crunch, sea salt, and creamy milk chocolate makes this reinvented treat decadent and irresistible. Other nutty rivalries may want to hide in shame.