Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Francois Payard Bakery's Chocolate Financier

One of my life goal is to work my way through every pastry offered at Francois Payard, because everything I've tried there so far has been fantastic. For example, this chocolate financier:

A photograph doesn't do it justice, clearly. Or at least not a photograph taken by me.

This thing was chewy and lightly chocolatey, with a few chocolate chips on the bottom to hammer it home. I don't think I'd ever had a financier before, and I don't know exactly what to compare it to. Sort of brownie texture, but less heavy, perhaps?

The Payard chocolate financier comes in an assorted box:

I'm sure these are all very good, but I did not eat the rest of them, because they are not chocolate.

BOTTOM LINE: Francois Payard is an excellent French bakery. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Edible Arrangement's Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I don't like chocolate-covered strawberries. One, because I don't like strawberries. Two, because, almost all the time, fruit served with chocolate serves only to detract from the chocolate.

So I am probably not the best person to judge these things. But a box of them was sent to my coworker, and she offered me one. What was I supposed to do? Say no?

The strawberries were fine, as strawberries go. The chocolate on them was quite good. All in all a worthwhile thing to eat, and I felt pretty good about my decision to break my no-strawberries rule in this instance.

BOTTOM LINE: Probably quite enjoyable if you like strawberries, but, if given the choice, I would have preferred a pound of the chocolate dipping sauce.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

S'more Bakery

Here are two important facts about me:

1) S'mores are one of my favorite foods in the entire world.
2) I love artisanal things.

When you combine these two facts, it should go without saying that the idea of artisanal s'mores really, really appealed to me.

S'more Bakery was at Smorgasburg this weekend, so obviously I had to try one of their s'mores. They have such an extensive menu! Pumpkin-flavored marshmallows! Vanilla bean specked salted caramel sauce! Whole wheat graham crackers! I ordered "the chocolatiest thing you have," and they gave me a marshmallow with dark chocolate ganache sandwiched between chocolate grahams.

Here's the thing, though: I didn't love it. It was fine, in that it is impossible for chocolate and marshmallows to ever be anything worse than fine. But the truth is that a man who is browning a marshmallow with a handheld torch is just never going to be as good as actually roasting a marshmallow over an open flame. It just can't be. You cannot get the right s'more consistency without a bonfire, and I know because I have tried.

I have never found a s'more, no matter how artisanal and fancy the ingredients, that compares to Hershey's milk chocolate, Nabisco grahams, and cheap marshmallows perfectly burned over a campfire.

BOTTOM LINE: Creative idea and ingredients with a disappointing meltiness and consistency.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


After an evening of dancing to satanic ska on a boat, sometimes you just need to cool down with a nice cone of chocolate gelato.

Until my recent discovery of Fresco, Grom was easily my favorite gelato shop in the city, and it still might be, if only for the extradark chocolate sorbet.  Grom is a chain that comes from Italy, but my friends who spent time in Italy before Grom came to NYC reported living off the stuff there.  And for good reason.  While even the chocolate sorbet is not vegan (they started adding a small amount of egg for unclear reasons -- I couldn't tell the difference after the change), the taste is just unbeatable.

i don't even have a joke about this.  just eat it.
I often say that the point of dessert is to take the taste of chocolate and put it into different textures.  No one in the city understands this better than Grom.  This sorbet really does taste like a dark chocolate bar (~70-80% -- not too sweet) in ice cream form.  And just to remind you of it, they throw in dark chocolate chips.  Really superb.

Grom also has a dark chocolate gelato (Venezuelan origin as opposed to the extradark's Colombian origin).  It's good enough to be one of the best in the city, but I never wind up getting it, because the extradark is there.

The other notable item at Grom is the hot chocolate.  It is thick.  Unbelievably thick.  Basically melted chocolate -- the same Venezuelan chocolate as in the gelato.  Some of the best hot chocolate in the city, in my opinion.  But better yet is throwing a scoop of the extradark chocolate sorbet in the hot chocolate.  It's an amazing dessert for any weather situation.

Despite all this, though, my standard order is still usually just the extradark chocolate sorbet, straight up.

Bottom Line: The best taste in the world (a dark chocolate bar) in one of the best textures in the world (ice cream).  Unbeatable.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

L'Arte Del Gelato

L'Arte Del Gelato has the reputation for being one of the best gelaterias in New York.  This may well be the case, but I have always been unimpressed by their chocolate offerings.

I was walking by the other day with a friend, and she wanted some pumpkin gelato.  I decided to give the place another try, so we split a cup down the middle with pumpkin and dark chocolate sorbet.  My prior opinions were confirmed.

never judge a book by its cover, even if if that cover looks really delicious
Can't complain about the appearance -- it certainly looks chocolatey
It's not that the sorbet is bad.  It's just that it faces an uphill battle of a super chocolatey appearance and a stellar reputation.  But when you bite in, it's merely good.  I've had the milk chocolate gelato version as well, and it's the same.  This sorbet not super sweet, which is good, but usually that would mean that the sugar is replaced by more chocolate.  Here, the taste is, as usual, not chocolatey enough.  It's as if they replaced the sugar from most sorbets with extra ice.

Bottom Line:  Good quality ingredients, but just not tasty enough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Sugar Wafers at Family Dollar

We cover a lot of fancy things here at Chocolate NYC.  But sometimes you just need to take the class up to the next level.  That's when you go to Family Dollar.

someone photoshop a top hat and monocle on these classy snacks
You know what this tastes like, so I will keep this brief
So you pretty much know what you are getting here.  Some cardboard-y wafer, with some sort of mysterious chocolate filling.  There are three notable things about these wafers: (1) You get a giant package for literally one dollar.  (2) They are surprisingly delicious.  (3) If you have more than two wafers you will feel physically ill for reasons you will never be able to ascertain.

All that said, these are kosher pareve, and I would take these over Hauser of Belgium any day.

Bottom Line: If you go far enough into Brooklyn to visit an adorable puppy, sometimes you need to make sacrifices to eat something chocolatey.

leila wants you to know that chocolate is poisonous for dogs and that despite its pleadings this puppy did not get any of the wafers.
Worth it.

Au Bon Pain Double Chocolate Chunk Muffin

Thank God I do not work or live near an Au Bon Pain, because if I did I would eat one of their double chocolate chunk muffins every day.

There is no earthly reason why we can consider this thing a muffin; a.k.a breakfast. This is clearly a cupcake without frosting. It’s dense, moist, seriously unhealthy, and better than any chain restaurant product has the right to be. The top is crusty and hands down the best part. I treat myself to one of these every time I’m in an airport with an ABP--but otherwise I do not eat them, for Lord’s sake, because I need to leave room in my stomach for other chocolate opportunities!

BOTTOM LINE: Better (and chocolatier) than any chain restaurant has the right to be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tribeca Treats

This weekend I theoretically took a brief "break" from chocolate dessert hunting to go pumpkin dessert hunting.  In practice, of course, this means that I was going both pumpkin and chocolate dessert hunting, because bakeries typically have both, and I am not a strong man.

pumpkin dessert hunting indeed

Tribeca Treats is a great shop.  It's not too big, but you feel like you have plenty of space to stretch out -- a great place to sit around and hang out.  They have bon bons, cupcakes, brownies, whoopie pies, and more.  After putting in my pumpkin order (cheesecake and whoopie pie), I made my typical move -- ask for the chocolatiest thing they have.  I wound up with a mini brownie and a dark chocolate bon bon covered in milk chocolate.  Both were good, but very sweet.  The non-obsessives in my group were particularly impressed with the brownie.  It did indeed have an excellent fudgey texture.  But I, of course, thought both could've been more chocolatey.

Bottom Line: A great place for a serious pumpkin lover and a casual chocolate appreciator.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Starbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino

The first time I drank one of these, I was 20 years old and my friend Virginia was working as a Starbucks barista. I don’t drink coffee--in fact, I don’t consume any sort of caffeine, with the exception of chocolate (which I consume rigorously enough that it makes up for all the coffee that I’m not drinking). Virginia made me a double chocolate frappucino, and I was convinced that she’d snuck coffee into it and was trying to caffeinate me. To what end, I couldn’t tell you.

Fortunately, Virginia had not spiked my beverage, and that was how I discovered my favorite Starbucks drink. If you’ve never ordered one of these because you have been too focused on your coffee, I’ll tell you about it: it’s blended milk, ice, chocolate syrup, and chocolate chips, with whipped cream on top. It’s as close as you’re going to come to an iced hot chocolate when you’re on the go. And it’s a refreshing drink on a hot day when a milkshake seems too heavy, or simply too hard to find. A Starbucks, as we all know, is never hard to find.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re at an airport or a shopping center and the only available restaurants are chains, this may well be your best, chocolatiest beverage option.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Soco Creamery

Soco Creamery sells pints of ice cream through various stores, including many stores in New York City. If you can’t leave New York for some reason, then I recommend buying one of these pints (especially the Mexicali Chocolate). But if you can leave the city, then I recommend driving all the way to Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to go to the actual Soco Creamery in person.

Soco Creamery is my happy place. Unlike the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Soco does a zillion different flavors. Their Dirty Chocolate is superb, and I always get a scoop of that, which I will then usually complement with a scoop of something more exotic. And toppings! They make sundaes here like no one’s business. Your best bet is to rope a friend into sharing with you so you can go whole hog: hot fudge, bananas, everything. That’s what I did when I got this:

This was on the Fourth of July, which explains the red, white, and blue whipped cream in here. What else was in here? Peanut butter sauce. Reese’s Pieces. Hot fudge. Two flavors of ice cream. Honestly I don’t even remember. I just remember being in an uninterrupted state of bliss.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the best places to get an ice cream sundae in the Northeast.

Fresco has chocolate sorbet!

And it is amazing.  It tastes like a fresher, better version of Ciao Bella's excellent dark chocolate sorbet.  Good news for all you vegans and lactose intolerants out there.  Also for those of us who are such chocolate purists that we think that any ingredient that isn't chocolate is just getting in the way.  And having tried it, the chocolate gelato/chocolate sorbet combo is truly exquisite.

They only had it in the back room today, but they assured me it will be rolling out right away.

Hauser of Belgium

There is a big chassidic contingent to my family, most of which live in Belgium.  Recently, one of them came over and brought some chocolates with her.  I was somewhat hopeful because the chocolates were Belgian, but not too hopeful because they were specifically kosher.  There is no reason that kosher chocolates should not be good -- it's not like any of the ingredients involved are restricted.  Probably a fair amount of good quality chocolate winds up getting a kosher certification.  But Hauser chocolates completely fit the stereotype of awful kosher chocolate that they are worth a write-up.  (As an aside, there seems to be an unrelated Hauser Chocolates based in the US.  As far as I can tell, there is no connection between the two.)

to me, a box of chocolates is like life: without it i'd be dead.
Receiving something like this is always incredibly stressful.
First of all, these are ostensibly flavored bon bons.  There was a little booklet that explained which shapes were which flavor.  But let me assure you -- they all tasted exactly the same.  And not good.

This also suffered from the sugar bloom (or is it fat bloom?  I can never tell) one often sees on kosher chocolates.  I don't know why this is.  There are many potential causes for this, and I don't know what happened in this case, but it noticeably messes with the texture.  It becomes waxy, grainy, and unpleasant.
even from this low-quality picture, it's easy to tell that it's low-quality chocolate
That white, dusty-looking stuff on the chocolate is a problem.
It's hard to describe exactly what goes on in certain kosher dessert manufacturers.  But many of us who have some experience in the matter have had the experience of taking a bite out of a dessert and exclaiming that it was egregiously kosher.  For any of you who want to know what that means... try Hauser chocolates.

Bottom Line: Egregiously kosher.

Friday, October 19, 2012

This is where I am tonight


It's a private party in Birmingham, Alabama. Otherwise, I would invite you all to join.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

There are two models of ice cream. One is what I like to call “the Ample Hills model,” and that is to have all sorts of complicated, exciting varieties. Like brown sugar ice cream with cinnamon swirl, chocolate nibs, and ground-up waffle cone or something. (I just made myself hungry.)

The other model I call “the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory model.” This is where you only have about five flavors, all simple things like “chocolate” and “vanilla,” but you do them exceedingly well.

Neither of these models is the correct one. They are both correct. It’s a matter of taste.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is expensive, and there’s almost always a long line, but it is delicious, freshly homemade ice cream. They don’t have a lot of flavor options, but I don’t need that many options when I can get a chocolate chocolate chip milkshake.

They put something like seven or eight scoops of ice cream into this thing. I am not exaggerating.

One of my favorite summertime traditions is to bike down to the waterfront, order a chocolate chocolate chip milkshake, and sip it while watching the Manhattan skyline across the river.

BOTTOM LINE: If you like your ice cream uncomplicated and pure, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is for you.

Levain Bakery

Whenever I say to a New Yorker, “I have discovered my favorite cookie in New York,” they say, “It’s Levain, right?”

Levain Bakery makes the best cookies in New York. Possibly in America. There is broad consensus about this. They have four and a half stars on Yelp, with 1662 ratings.

They sell exactly four types of cookies, every day. Your options are as follows:

“Four dollars?” you might be saying. “For a single cookie?”

No. Four dollars for your LIFE TO CHANGE.

These cookies each weigh six ounces. They are the size of a kitten. But don’t eat a kitten, please—they are not chocolate. Eat one of these cookies instead.

So far I’ve tried the chocolate chip walnut and the dark chocolate chocolate chip. I don’t know which I prefer. They are both amazingly dense and moist, and somehow the chocolate chips in them always stay melty, even if it’s two days later, and you are still working your way through six ounces of cookie. I can’t think of any parallels to Levain cookies. They make me want to go to the Upper West Side. I didn’t think that was possible.

BOTTOM LINE: Possibly the best chocolate chip cookie in New York City.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I baked six dozen of these babies over the weekend:

I brought them into work for my colleagues, which meant I only got to eat one of them. Plus about six tablespoons of raw batter. (Shh don’t tell my mom.) That was not even close to how much I wanted to eat, but it was enough for me to tell you that these cookies are delicious.

Do you want to make six dozen of these cookies for yourself? I don’t blame you. The recipe is in the back of a book that I edited, Horrible Harry and the Stolen Cookie, by Suzy Kline. It’s Suzy’s own recipe. So rather than giving it away, I’m going to say: if you want to bake these cookies, buy the book!

BOTTOM LINE: There is nothing like home-baked cookies from scratch.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This is the best chocolate pudding I've ever had.  But I don't think that sufficiently does it justice.  It is, like, orders of magnitude better than any other pudding I have ever had.

Here is the story of my first cup of Puddin''s chocolate pudding:  A couple days earlier, I had been in Whole Foods.  I hate being in Whole Foods, and the only way that I can handle the stressful checkout process is to have some chocolate in my hand.  So I picked up this bar I had never tried before -- Noi Sirius 70%.  As soon as I tasted it, I texted Leila and Angel to let them know that I had just discovered the best damn 70% bar I'd ever tried.

I honestly cannot look at this picture without becoming unbearably hungry.
Pure glory.
But back at Puddin' -- I show up there several days later, having heard good things.  I, of course, order chocolate pudding (and throw in some hot fudge because duh).  I take one bite, and my immediate reaction is, "This is the best damn chocolate pudding I've ever tried."  So I asked Clio, the founder and Head Puddin Maker, what kind of chocolate she used.  "Oh, you've probably never heard of it, just this little Icelandic brand.  Only one place in the city carries it."  "Try me." "Noi Sirius."  Of course.  She had tried the bar just before opening the store and basically had the same reaction I did.

Seriously, though, I don't think I can sufficiently emphasize how good this pudding is.  I go there regularly and never get tired of it.

Bottom Line: The best damn chocolate pudding you will ever try.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maison Kayser

Stop two on Angel and my chocolate quest was Maison Kayser -- the first NYC outpost of a major Paris chain.  We should have just come here -- it was great.  Unfortunately, I was pretty full from the previous mediocre experience, so I probably didn't get a full appreciation of all that Maison Kayser had to offer.  But it should be noted that not only do they have a great selection of chocolatey and other baked wares, but they also have an appealing regular food menu.
People often tell me I would make a great hand model.  100% of those people are this alt-text.

We ordered a chocolate mousse, a chocolate madeleine, and a cake with a very complicated name that shed little light as to what it was like.

Its name is Jason, and it is very offended that I forgot.
This cake had a name.
That cake was a highlight.  For some reason we assumed it would come out hot, but it was cold.  No matter.  Very chocolatey, very delicious.

Next up was the mousse.  I liked it, but Angel liked it more, noting the high quality and feeling it compared well to other mousses in the city.  I think the chocolatey thingies on top had more appeal to her.  To me they just sort of interfered with the texture and didn't add much chocolate flavor.

I feel like that paragraph came out a bit too negative on my part.  The mousse was very good.  Really.

Finally, we had a chocolate madeleine.  But we did not get a picture of it, because Angel's camera died.  I should probably point out that I might not be qualified to review this madeleine, as I'm not sure I've ever had a madeleine before.  In any case, I immediately declared that it was not chocolatey enough.  "What are you talking about??" demanded Angel. "This is almost like a brownie!!"  "But then," I responded, "why did we not just get a brownie?"  So there you have it: very chocolatey for a madeleine, but maybe you should just get a brownie.

Bottom Line: I can see why this is a successful chain in Paris.  It is a successful chain in Paris, because it is really good at various different things.

Sugar & Plumm

Last weekend, Angel (a friend of the blog, whom we are trying to coax into guest posting) and I went on a serious quest, the first stop of which was Sugar and Plumm.  Honestly speaking, it was a disappointment.

The thing is, the place looks beautiful.  The desserts look great.  And there are adorable children as far as the eye can see.  But the food was not as delicious as it looked, and the children were the wrong kind of children -- loud and out of control.

But to the chocolate: we had chocolate-caramel sorbet, milk chocolate ice cream, a chocolate macaron, a dark chocolate bon-bon, and a chocolate cake (which was actually the reason for our trip).

Everything looks so lovely!  Who could know what awaited us....
Our haul.
The ice cream and sorbet were, like the whole experience, disappointing.  The chocolate-caramel sorbet, while it looked dark and rich, was actually sweet, unchocolatey, and kind of weird tasting.  The milk chocolate ice cream was surprisingly far better, but I don't think I'd rate it any more highly than "okay."

Never trust a hyphenated chocolate dessert.

The chocolate cake, too, was disappointing.  As dense as it looks, it was not chocolatey enough, and it was a bit dry.  (Angel even went so far as to say that the cake tasted prepackaged.)  I did enjoy the glitter on top, though.  And I managed to upgrade the situation by dunking the cake in the milk chocolate ice cream.  That elevated it to the level of "enjoyable."

Maybe it's the fact that I just listened to "Die Young" a dozen times, but I am still really digging the glitter up there.
The cake is as pretty as the shop.

The macaron was serviceable, but not really worth elaboration.

Surprisingly, the standout was the bon-bon.  It was actually excellent -- on par with many of the top NYC chocolatiers.
Graphic!  Not for the squeemish!
It doesn't even look that dark, but it is!
Bottom Line:  If you are walking past, pick up a dark chocolate bon-bon on your way to somewhere with a higher chocolatey desserts to screaming children ratio.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Li-Lac is a well-known, New York-based chocolatier that completely deserves its reputation.  While they have a West Village location, I generally shop at the Grand Central store out of convenience (it's in the Market on the main level).  I work in Midtown, and being able to get high quality, old fashioned chocolates is something I do not take for granted.

This is a normal amount to purchase for a little snack, right?  Right.
I had just eaten about 3 chocolate bars, so I was able to get it all home  in tact.
Li-Lac does a lot of things well.  On this trip I got a delicious marzipan acorn, a hazelnut roll, and three chunks of chocolate breakaway.

Everything Li-Lac sells is really excellent, and -- as I love to hammer home as a plus -- their chocolate chunks are super chocolatey.  But the real standout is surprisingly the hazelnut roll (also available in bar form).

Generally, I don't like nuts in chocolate, because I think they screw up the texture.  I hate the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.  But the hazelnut-chocolate combination, when a uniform texture, I admit to being a guilty pleasure.  I might not be as obsessed with Nutella as the rest of the world, but it's great, and I am probably more obsessed with those Guylian shells than anyone.  These hazelnut rolls taste like high class Guylians.  They are just delicious, blending chocolate and hazelnut perfectly.

Bottom Line:  A must for Nutella/hazelnut/ferraro lovers, and very highly recommended for everyone else.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New York Doughnut Map Launch Party

The fine folks at All You Can Eat Press have just published New York City's first (presumably) doughnut map. It costs $10, which seems kind of steep, but it lists 25 doughnut shops throughout the city, so that's really only 40 cents per doughnut location revealed.

To celebrate this publication, they held a launch party at the Ace Hotel with FREE DOUGHNUTS.

The line was super-long, as lines always are when there's free food at the end. Through the windows I saw lots of chocolate options. There were doughnuts present from Dun-Well, Dough, and Doughnut Plant, among others.

A woman walked by and asked what we were waiting for. When we answered, "Free doughnuts," she asked, "Are they Krispy Kreme?"

This is a clear sign of being a tourist.

Unfortunately by the time I got to the front of the line, most of the options were gone. I only got to try one Peter Pan doughnut, which you can see here: it's half chocolate and half vanilla.

It was very tasty. Not super chocolately, I will grant you-- but, then it was only half chocolate; it wasn't supposed to be super-chocolatey. My interest was piqued. I would go to Peter Pan Doughnuts and buy a whole doughnut, to see how I feel about it when there aren't 300 Manhattan foodies in line behind me.

BOTTOM LINE: Artisanal doughnuts are amazing, and my only regret tonight is that there were not more there for me to eat.

Asher's Dark Chocolate Smothered Pretzels

Tonight I watched the Vampire Diaries season premiere with a friend. She really, really, passionately loves the Vampire Diaries, and I have basically no feelings about it at all. To thank me for supporting her in her passionate love, she bought a box of Asher's Dark Chocolate Smothered Pretzels for me to eat while we watched.

I LOVE CHOCOLATE-COVERED PRETZELS. And these were some particularly fine specimens. The chocolate was excellent. The pretzels were salty. Their website copy says, "We bet you can't eat just one." I bet you can't eat just six. I certainly couldn't.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're into chocolate-covered pretzels, you'll be SUPER-into these.

Ion Galaktos

I am making a prediction: this will be the best-titled post this blog will ever have.

Anyways, so I was in Fresco for the fortieth time since I posted about them last week, and they had a bunch of Greek chocolates and candies.  I picked the one that involved the least amount of stuff-that-isn't-chocolate, the Ion Galaktos (translation supplied by my Official Greek Friend Jason).

if you do not speak greek, you will not know that this is science chocolate from ouuutterrr spaaaace

Now Leila and I both agree that dark chocolate is superior to milk chocolate, but I think I have a softer spot in my heart for the stuff, as my grandmother used to bring me amazing bars of Lindt milk chocolate whenever she would arrive from Europe.

But there are two types of milk chocolate:  Serious Milk Chocolate and candy.  This is candy.  I could tell that as soon as I bit in.  But I had never scientifically determined what makes the difference.  Until now.  Dun dun dunnnnnnnn.

i imagine each ion must have alternating charge in order to get the bar to hold together so well... *snort snort*
It even looks like candy

The ingredients in this are good.  Most Candy Milk Chocolate has corn syrup or other junk; this does not.  There is just one thing out of place:  chocolate, sugar, soy lecithin, and vanillin.  Catch it?  I need more data, but the difference between vanilla (the real stuff) and vanillin (the flavoring) may be more important than I had suspected.

I do want to make something clear, though.  I am a chocolate purist, but I am not really a chocolate snob.  I love Candy Milk Chocolate.  I may prefer Serious Milk Chocolate (and of course I prefer dark chocolate), but Candy Milk Chocolate is better than non-chocolate candy any day.  And this is about as good as Candy Milk Chocolate gets.  I am not quite ready to answer Leila's question for myself, but if you are looking for some good candy, this would be a nice place to start.

Bottom Line: Really good candy.  Not to be compared with a bar of dark chocolate.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hudson Clearwater

I went to Hudson Clearwater for dinner last night. I ate this:

Here is how the menu describes it: "Chocolate-Banana brioche bread pudding, Strawberries, dark chocolate drizzle."

Here is how I describe it: delicious. Nice banana undertones without being too banana-y, great texture, top-quality chocolate. Some of my dining companions asked if I wanted to "split it." I was like, "No."

BOTTOM LINE:: It's not cheap ($9), but if you're already eating at this restaurant, you would be a fool to skip the dessert.

Pittsfield Rye

Pittsfield Rye, a Massachusetts bakery, makes, among other breads, a loaf called Death By Chocolate. This bread is baked with dark cocoa and chocolate chunks. Possibly the best part is that it's bread, not cake, and therefore it can be eaten any time of day, not just for dessert.

You may be wondering whether you will actually die from Death by Chocolate bread. No. You will not. Again, it's bread, not cake, so it can't be as chocolatey as cake is. But for a potentially-breakfast product, it is impressively chocolatey.

I bought a loaf of Death by Chocolate at the Massachusetts State House at the Big E last September. I toasted and ate many slices of this bread, to my great delight.

But two slices I saved in my freezer. I wanted to French toast them. I anticipated that Death by Chocolate French toast would be a really, really good idea.

The problem was, I didn't have time to make French toast for breakfast. For an entire thirteen months. (I'm busy.)

This weekend, I decided, "This is it! This is the day to French toast my chocolate bread!"

How did it taste, you might be wondering. After all this build-up, was it amazing?

No. But that is totally not the fault of the bread, and instead because I had frozen it for thirteen months, did not defrost it whatsoever before French toasting it, and then burned it because I didn't put enough butter in the pan. I still believe this could have been delicious if I had made better decisions. I will clearly need to buy another loaf and try again.

BOTTOM LINE: This bread provides an excellent opportunity for including chocolate in your breakfast. Just don't be a terrible cook, and you will be fine.

Dagoba 74% "New Moon"

I am a person who regularly has house guests.  For a house guest, it is not hard to know what kind of a present to get me.  This kind:

haha, it looks like i showed enough restraint to take this picture before tearing in, but that is an ELABORATE DECEPTION.  ha ha!
I don't know what this chocolate bar has to do with the moon, new or otherwise.
So this is an interesting chocolate bar.  Sufficiently interesting that I checked the ingredients to see if there was anything in there other than the typical chocolate/sugar/soy lecithin/vanilla.  There wasn't.  It had complex flavor notes that I am not pretentious enough to describe accurately, though The Chocolate Room may be able to help us with this.  You will learn this about me in relatively short order, but I am not the type of chocolate fan that is all that into complex flavor notes.  However, I did quite enjoy eating this bar -- it was objectively very good -- and I always appreciate a company able to bring out different flavors from the basic, purist chocolate ingredients.

A poll for the (nerdiest of) readers: which do you prefer -- the chocolatier or the system?

Bottom Line: An excellent chocolate bar for someone who loves complex flavor notes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Firstly I should say that I'm mad at this place. They don't accept credit cards, apparently, but they did not tell us that until the end of our meal.

Furthermore: they should accept credit cards. It is one thing if you are a small stationary story struggling to make ends meet and you don't want to rack up a $5 charge with Mastercard every time you sell a $3.50 letterpress greeting card. But Alta is expensive. An individual meal here can easily come to $60 or more. How many people do you know who regularly carry around $60 in cash?

I realize this is not yet about chocolate. But what is the point of the Internet if not to complain about commerce?

Moving on to the chocolate: I ate this thing.

It's called a chocolate-mint egg, and indeed it does come in an actual egg shell, in an actual egg cup. Very cute presentation. It cost $5, which was a little bit excessive for something so petite, I thought.

Here is what all they fit inside this single egg shell:

1) creme brulee. I think it was supposed to be mint or maybe chocolate, but I didn't get a strong flavor off it. Mostly it was just creamy. Lovely texture, could have used more taste.
2) chocolate crunchies. I love these things, obvs. They are chocolatey and textural.
3) mint gel. This was what gave the egg its mint flavor, and I do generally love mint flavoring-- but because of its gel texture and green color, I was a little put off. It reminded me too much of the dentist.

Overall, these components complemented one another well. But honestly, I would have been just as happy with a bunch of chocolate crunchies stuffed in an egg shell.

All the food we got at Alta was quite good, and I see they have a number of other chocolate dessert options, so maybe someday I will go back to try the others. You know, next time I get paid in cash.

BOTTOM LINE: Creative dessert with creative presentation, interesting texture combination, but not super-flavorful.

Chocolate Cupcake from the Chocolate Room

I had a babysitting job tonight, and, as the parents left the house, they mentioned that they would be going to the Chocolate Room after dinner. I looked at them with hungry eyes that insinuated, please bring me home something to eat, for I am needy and jealous. Fortunately, they did.

David and I are big Chocolate Room fans. Who wouldn't be? It's called the freaking CHOCOLATE ROOM. We once went to a chocolate tasting there, where I became proud owner of a "chocolate tasting wheel," which looks something like this:

There are many dishes that I enjoy at the Chocolate Room. With time, this blog will probably cover all of them. Tonight my babysitting clients brought me home the chocolate cupcake. With chocolate frosting, natch.

The frosting was fantastic. The cake itself was very good, though perhaps drier than I would have liked. (That's kind of the nature of most cupcakes, to be honest.) I hadn't thought I was still hungry, after eating about 100 chocolate chips over the course of my babysitting job-- but then I devoured this whole thing. So I guess I was hungry, after all.

BOTTOM LINE: Truly enjoyable-- and not even my favorite thing to get at the Chocolate Room!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two Little Red Hens

Two Little Red Hens might be the best bakery in New York City.  They do everything really well, from scones to cheesecakes.  And yes, even chocolate.  Their Brooklyn Blackout Cupcake is my favorite cupcake in the city (and they make full Brooklyn Blackout Cakes, for those of you who are Shaquille O'Neal).
i swear i am an adult
If this looks appetizing to you, you belong here.
The problem with Two Little Red Hens is that I do not live near it.  So I basically have to beg anyone sojourning to the Upper East Side to pick this up for me whenever I find such an adventurous spirit.  Unfortunately, what comes back to me does not always look as beautiful as I promise it does in the shop:

If the baker of this cupcake saw this picture, he or she would probably cry.
Seriously, guys, the shop is one of the most beautiful, adorable places in the city.
This cupcake was smushed in transit and then put in the fridge before I was able to rescue it.  And you know what?  It was still just about the best dang cupcake I'd ever had.  Among the reasons why: 1) It is a really chocolatey cupcake; 2) Inside of the chocolatey cupcake they put gooey chocolate; 3) I don't even need a number three, just eat it.

Bottom Line: Despite all appearances in my photos, this is the best cupcake.

This Thing I Bought At Whole Foods

I bought this at Whole Foods:

This is a thing.

I think it was called a Mississippi Mud Pie Bar or something.  I might have made up any of those four words, but at least a couple of those words were involved.  The point was it was gooey and chocolatey and delicious.

Bottom Line: Gooey and chocolatey and delicious.

Momofuku Milk Bar

The first time I walked into Milk Bar, I asked if they had anything that was chocolate.  They said no.  I walked out, and I didn't return for about two years.

The thing, though, is that it is on my block.  I mean, literally.  So when it's 11pm, and most places are closed, it gets pretty tempting, even if they are insultingly light on chocolate.

So they do a lot of things at Milk Bar, many of them well and many of them not-so-well.  I generally find their soft serves to be too salty.  Their cereal milk is perfectly good, but I have it in my cereal every day, so I do not usually feel the need to purchase it.

Now there is one thing they do very well, which they are famous for -- cake truffles.  Basically, bite-sized, round pieces of cake, easy to eat with your hands.  Smart.  They used to have a chocolate malt flavor that was great.  I am generally embarrassed to admit to eating non-chocolate desserts, but I will sheepishly endorse their birthday cake truffles as being off the proverbial hook.

If you are thinking, "those don't look chocolatey enough," I must concede that they are not chocolatey enough.

In my most recent trip, in addition to the birthday cake truffles, I purchased some chocolate chip truffles.  Now, objectively, they were good.  But they were nonetheless disappointing.  I am a huge opponent of the fruit+chocolate combination, and I was shocked that it came into play here -- they put orange juice in this!  And you can really taste it!

Fortunately, I was prepared for disappointment, as one look at these puppies told me they wouldn't be chocolatey enough, regardless of other flavor situations.  Accordingly, I purchased a chocolate croissant.

Not a quiche.

Yes, it sort of looks like a quiche or at least something savory.  But it was actually quite good.  It had nice texture, and it was more chocolatey than most.  That said, as is usually the case, it could still have done with more chocolate.

A lot of chocolate?  Probably.  Enough chocolate?  Never.

Bottom Line: While Milk Bar has much merit, it is not a place for chocolate purists.