Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate Bomb at Sugar Sweet Sunshine

Many people know of Sugar Sweet Sunshine as a cupcakery.  It has cupcakes, made with almond meal/flour/something.  I am assured by cupcake lovers that they are exceptional cupcakes.  But a chocolate lover gets distracted by the almond and craves something more chocolatey.  Don't worry; they've got you covered.  Just walk around the corner of the counter.

This disaster is one of my favorite chocolate desserts in the city, and certainly a must-go on the Lower East Side:

proposed rule of chocolate desserts: the grosser it looks, the better it tastes

That's chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and chocolate whipped cream, mashed together, scooped into a cup, and eaten as pudding with a spoon.

Bottom Line:  I gained 10 pounds just typing up this review, and all I wanted was the opportunity to gain 20 more with another cup of this stuff.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Foray to Massachusetts #1: Downtown Boston Chocolate Walking Tour

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Boston, where I visited a lot of chocolate venues-- some of them old favorites, some new delights. I did not take photos at all of them. I also did not eat things at all of them. Only because I did not pace myself well, so I got too full for more chocolate. Poor life planning.

Anyway, I'm offering you here a more complete Boston Chocolate Walking Tour. Pace yourself better than me, and do your best to make it to all of these places. I promise it's worth it.

Here is a map of all of them, because I am technologically adept:

View Chocolate NYC Boston Walking Tour in a larger map

Start at your furthest point north and east: the North End, near the Haymarket T stop. First stop is Mike's Pastry (300 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113), the most famous place in Boston to buy cannoli. They have so many cannoli flavors here. Like chocolate mousse! Chocolate Ricotta! Other chocolate flavors!

The North End is known for its food, so you're not done here yet. Next visit Cocoanuts (28 Parmenter Street, Boston, MA 02113). This place is beautifully curated, and they carry so many delicious options, including some of my favorites (Liddabit Sweets and Asher's), as well as brands I'd never even heard of before (like Zoe's). I met one of the owners, and she is clearly a woman who knows and loves her chocolate. I would like to go back here and buy one of everything, please and thank you.

Photos of Cocoanuts, for your salivation:

Next cross the Greenway to get to Quincy Marketplace, a historical Boston shopping area where you can find the historical Boston Chipyard (257 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA). The Chipyard was founded in 1976. It is a Boston institution. (That's right, it was sounded on America's bicentennial year. Coincidence? Okay, yes, probably.)

The Chipyard makes small, chewy cookies in flavors like "banana chocolate chip" and "oatmeal raisin chocolate chip" and "double chocolate." I would say more about this place, except I didn't buy any cookies, because they wouldn't sell me just one-- they only sell them in bags of a half-dozen-- and frankly I was already full from my first stops on this walking tour. I disapprove of that policy.

Now walk even further west, to Beacon Hill, where you will find the appropriately-named Beacon Hill Chocolates (91 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114). This is another very high-quality chocolate shop. I could have spent all day and $300 dollars in here. Thank God, I did not.

Also in Beacon Hill is a branch of J. P. Licks (150 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114), one of my all-time favorite Boston ice cream brands. THEY HAVE SO MANY FLAVORS. Special flavors for this month include options like, "Chocolate Peppermint Sorbet - Sinfully rich chocolate sorbet refreshed with mint and chunks of peppermint candy." I can't, guys. I just can't.

Now walk a little south and a little further west, so you're heading down Newbury Street, Boston's premier shopping street. (Think 5th Ave., only calmer and classier, because it's New England.) Your first stop off Newbury is L. A. Burdick (220 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA). L. A. Burdick now has a store in NYC, so you can trust that they will get a more complete review one of these days, but for now let me just say that their shtick is offering a half dozen single-origin hot chocolates, which are exactly as good as they sound.

Next stop on Newbury Street is the Hotel Chocolat (137 Newbury Street, Boston, MA). This place has a very sleek, European feel. And they offer free samples sometimes. And they have one chocolate tasting box, and I don't know what is in it, but it costs $230.

Your last stop is ice cream: Emack and Bolio (290 Newbury Street, Boston, MA). Their website tagline says "ice cream for the connoisseur," and if that's not me, then frankly I don't know what is. I love Emack and Bolio ice cream; always have. They now have a branch in NYC, so again you can expect a full review some point soon. Not to give it away, but: it's going to be a positive one.

And that's it! The best of downtown Boston in one amazing afternoon.

Did I miss any of your favorite spots? Let me know! I'd love to check them out.

The Humbug at Liddabit Sweets

The Union Square holiday market is in full effect, complete with lots of overhyped, artisanal goods.  I hope you are ready.  I wasn't.
"is this gonna be white chocolate?" i hear leila worrying

I should have been.  I've had other Liddabit Sweets products before, and they are very good.  They have a line of honeycomb bars.  They have some pumpkin things.  Good times all around.  But I was still not prepared for The Humbug.


It's some sort of chocolate truffle with crushed peppermint in it.  We love that here.  But doing it in a truffle instead of a chocolate bar is really some next level magic.

Bottom Line:  A crispy, mint-flavored, chocolate truffle.  Holiday magic is real.

Ground Support Cafe Hot Chocolate

There is nothing particularly special to say about Ground Support's hot chocolate. It is fine. If you're on West Broadway and you want a chocolate drink, you won't regret it, but you certainly don't need to seek it out.

Really I am including this hot chocolate to make a point. That point is as follows:

Hot chocolate is better when drunk out of a ceramic mug. Period. You can take the exact same hot chocolate and put it in a paper cup, and it will not taste as good.

I don't know exactly why. But I know this is true.

BOTTOM LINE: Pro tip: when given the choice, always drink your hot chocolate out of a non-disposable mug.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I have already mentioned my affinity for chocolate oatmeal.  Well, you can buy it in New York, of course, at OatMeals.

breakfast: the most underrated meal at which to each chocolate?

OatMeals is an oatmeal bar.  You get water- or milk-based oatmeal, into which you can mix... well, anything you could possibly want.  This time I kept it pretty simple -- dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, chocolate sauce... and a second helping of dark chocolate.  And it was glorious.

Bottom Line:  Now that I am an adult I eat adult chocolate cereals.  Let's all be adults together.  Wait, you've got a little fudge on the corner of... no, the other si-- here, I'll get it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post by Angel: El Ceibo 77% Cocoa Nibs & Uyuni Salt

Angel, a great friend of the blog and the only person we know who is as into chocolate as we are, was kind enough to grace us with a review of El Ceibo's nibs+salt bar.  Her words and pictures follow:

The El Ceibo is not the best, but it is good.  It has a smooth velvety texture.  The taste is fruity with a nice sweet/bitter balance.  The aftertaste is slightly milky and bitter.  It's strangely not very nibby or salty.  I wouldn't even notice the salt if I hadn't seen the label.

After nibbling on it at work for a few days, I realized that I was just eating it because it was there, not because I craved it. I think the fruity profile of the chocolate was just a bit too much. I would eat it if offered, but I would not buy it again.

Bottom Line:  It is perfectly serviceable chocolate, but I would not go out of my way for it.

Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe Raspberry Jell Rings

Based on their website, Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe seems like a place I would really enjoy. I have never been, because it is in Philadelphia and I am almost never in Philadelphia. But my co-worker went there on her birthday and brought back this container of raspberry jell rings to share with the office:

Obviously, I hated these. They are a tiny bit of chocolate surrounding a bunch of hard jelly. I hate hard jelly. Probably I should not have eaten them at all, except they were the only chocolate in my office, and it was extremely kind of my co-worker to share them with us, so I ate two of them.

Now I feel like I need to go to Philadelphia and seek out the Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe and give it its fair due. By buying something that is actually about chocolate. And not just about raspberry.

BOTTOM LINE: You definitely have to be a raspberry jelly fan to get any enjoyment out of these raspberry jells.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jacques Torres Cookies

I'm sure there will come a day when I review Jacques Torres hot chocolate, because lord knows I drink it often enough. But that day is not today. Today we are focusing solely on Jacques Torres' cookies.

Jacques Torres has a 28 on Zagat. They are dedicated to their chocolate. You should definitely go there. However, I have to be honest that their cookies are not my favorite in the city. The texture is usually not quite how I prefer my cookies: it's a crispier and chewier than I like, it's less soft and cake-like.

You may remember how I raved about Levain Bakery cookies. That sort of dense, moist, almost batter-like texture is my ideal, and that's simply not what you're getting with Jacques Torres.

But texture is just a matter of personal preference. The chocolate and the dough in these are undeniably top-notch. Like Ben's Cookies, we're looking at giant slabs of chocolate instead of just little chocolate chips. You can't argue with that amount of chocolate.

BOTTOM LINE: Top-notch chocolate and dough baked into a texture that's more crispy and chewy than it is dense and moist. If that's the texture you prefer, then you will love these.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sundaes and Cones

This is my favorite ice cream in New York.  Angel has made a strong case for La Maison du Chocolat's seasonal chocolate ice cream, but to me, Sundaes and Cones will always be the champ.
normally an ice cream place needs to choose between fratty nyu clientelle in the village or hipsters with children -- or worse: hipsters without children -- in brooklyn.  somehow sundaes and cones manages to avoid both demographics.
Photo credit to Kasey
We've talked a lot about ice cream categories.  I just made this in MSPaint to let you know where we are:

i am an artist did you guys know

To give another example of this quadrant, you might have the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.  I like this quadrant.  It's usually fun and unpretentious.  Sundaes and Cones is sort of an oasis of calm in an otherwise barely sufferable Greenwich Village area.

Kasey talked to them during her trip and came away feeling they did not concentrate as much on fresh ingredients as Ample Hills.  For example, their sweet corn ice cream is available year round, which to her indicated they use frozen corn.  To which I respond: I should hope so, because this is frozen food.  Kasey ultimately agreed, and she put them towards the very top of her ice cream list, trailing only Ample Hills.

rich colors: evidence of rich flavors?  discuss.

The reason why Sundaes and Cones is so great is fairly obvious, and Kasey and I agree on this, is that their flavors are all DELICIOUS.  They are incredibly flavorful and not overly creamy.  The pumpkin is the pumpkinyest.  Their poppy and wasabi flavors are surprisingly exceptional.  And of course, the defining characteristic of their chocolate ice cream is just how chocolatey it is.

Now, I'm not the pretentious type to consider ice cream and gelato and sorbet to be incomparable categories of food.  But in a world where I refused to compare among them, I would definitely rate Sundaes and Cones as my favorite ice cream in the city, as well as my favorite chocolate ice cream in the city.

Bottom Line:  I love this place.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Mine was great:

hopefully we can get some recipes up here soon
Chocolate cake by my mom, pumpkin brownie by Danielle

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Chocolate Show: Recap #4

This is it, guys. The final part of the annual NYC Chocolate Show four-part recap. Are you amazed that we have made it this far? Me, too. Are you amazed by the amount of chocolate we managed to eat in one day? Maybe don't be so amazed by that. It is our greatest skill.


an impressive assortment for a chocolatier who lives in cannes, has no stores outside of cannes, and informed me that there was literally no way for me to procure his chocolate in the united states outside of this one show

The booth staff was French and very lovely. When we first walked over they gave us spoons full of chocolate ganache to try. I think the ganache ultimately wound up in their hot chocolate, but we just sucked it down straight, and it was marvelous.


we did ask what made the bar "good and evil."  to our surprise, we got a list of about 20 different, sort of valid reasons for the name.  we were so surprised by how much thought they gave it that we honestly cannot remember a single one of the reasons.

This bar cost $18. I guess because it has Anthony Bourdain's name on it. We tried a sample and it was definitely delicious, but I don't know that any chocolate can possibly be $18 worth of delicious.  I just wish they would take Anthony Bourdain's name off of it, so I could buy a few bars without mortgaging Marvin Gardens.

Eclat bars included some odd flavors that I was not down with, like one that included toasted corn and one with pink peppercorn.  David, ordinarily a purist, had the exact opposite reaction, in fact buying a bar of the toasted corn.  In fact, he was overheard loudly complaining about his life's troubles, because he was unable to decide which of the many delicious options to purchase.  Overall, despite my anxiety over the stranger flavors, the quality of the Eclat chocolates was so high that I was really impressed. I'll eat it again; I'm just going to steer clear of the wasabi pea bars. Personal preference.


future friends, we hope.  because the alternative is that they will think we are huge creeps when we show up all the time.

Tache is new! And they're in the Lower East Side, which means we can both walk there. And their booth staff was super-nice. And they offer chocolate classes. All this means that we are basically going to live there.


i think they are some sort of cooperative.  for all you readers out there who care about, you know, "morals" or "ethics" or whatever.

I didn't eat anything here. David just shoved a few of those roasted cocoa beans into his mouth without asking permission.  He assures me that he has no regrets.

That's all for this year's Chocolate Show. Stay tuned as we give individual reviews to all the goods we purchased there. It's more than a handful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Sweet As Honey Ice Cream in a Chocolate Chip Cone at Ample Hills

My friend Kasey wants to become an ice cream maker.  To that end, she visited New York this weekend to check out a number of ice cream spots.  I met her at a place adored by Leila, Ample Hills.
Photo credit: Kasey
While Leila opted for Chocolate Milk and Cookies with Pumpkin Pie, I opted for Dark Chocolate with Sweet As Honey (sweet cream ice cream with bits of honeycomb in it).

ice cream scientists need to figure out a way to stack scoops horizontally, so both flavors pool up in the cone

So Leila divides ice cream into two categories.  So do I, but they are different ones.  Mine, though, betray my bias.  One category is the artisanal, Brooklyn kind, with a focus on top quality ingredients.  The other is the less pretentious kind, with an emphasis on the end product.

First, I should note that I prefer the latter kind.  The former often does get good quality chocolate.  I don't know what Ample Hills uses, but Van Leeuwen, for example, uses Michel Cluizel chocolate, which is excellent.  But this category also takes its cream very seriously, locally sourcing organic dairy farms or whatever you do when you take cream seriously.  This is not in and of itself bad, but it often lends to creamier, less chocolatey ice cream.

Second, Ample Hills is clearly in the first category of ice creams.  Everything about this place screams "Brooklyn."  I dare you to walk in and try to imagine for 5 seconds that you are in any other part of the world.  You will fail.  And you can't taste the ice cream without realizing the ingredients are quality.

Third, I think this is my favorite version of its type.  Kasey and I both agreed that it had the best texture of any ice cream we'd had in the city.  It was her favorite overall from her trip.  The taste was good, but I think their attempt at tackling so many flavors, as Leila points out, makes it difficult for them to master simple dark chocolate.  It's excellent, and it's far better than the chocolate milk and cookies or any other chocolate flavor they had, but it's still an ice cream lover's chocolate ice cream rather than a chocolate lover's chocolate ice cream.

Bottom Line:  If you are as much an ice cream lover as a chocolate lover, you probably will not find a better place than Ample Hills.

The Chocolate Show: Recap #3

More Chocolate Show recapping! We are only halfway through telling you about all the chocolate we ate last weekend! Seriously!


candies like grandma used to pot

This place had a lot of candies that weren't chocolates, so I kind of spaced out. David bought a box of these flower petals, though. They're definitely pretty. Just not all chocolate.


Here at Chocolate NYC, we love things called "OMG"
these are all free samples.  and they had like... a lot of these trays.

I love baked goods, so I was really into this place. The Chocolate Show could use more cookies and brownies, as far as I'm concerned. Salt of the Earth's cookies involved chocolate discs, instead of chips, which, as I've mentioned before, is crucial. They also had a Mayan brownie that tasted like a Mexican hot chocolate in brownie form. Sold.


rumor has it that they supply chocolates to the queen.  their accents would indicate this to be the truth.
We here at Chocolate NYC also love the color pink
Prestat was great! They're a British company, so all the booth staff had charming accents. I bought one of their mint chocolate bars-- full review of that to come. David bought a box of hazelnut truffles and a 70% bar. We were quite taken with this place.


if you think this looks more like a vat of ganache/frosting/pudding than fudge, then you have a keen eye for texture

I am not a fudge person. It's too sweet for me. They had a lot of interesting flavors (including a lot that were liquor-flavored, thus the name "Buzz Fudge")-- but I'm not a good judge. Especially after three hours of eating all the chocolate I could find.  David, though, is a fudge person, and he was almost aggressively excited to buy a box, so it's probably good fudge.


I mean, it's Valrhona. Simple, top-notch chocolate. What more is there to say?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kopali Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs

I picked up this snack in the checkout line at Duane Reade:

This is a story of how that impulse buy bin does not always end in regrets.

not poops!

The end.

Bottom Line:  No regrets.

The Chocolate Show: Recap #2

Picking up where we left off: here is part 2 (of 4) of our recap of the sights, sounds, and tastes of the 2012 NYC Chocolate Show!


They sold Pacari chocolates here, which we quite like.


if you put them all in your mouth at once, that weird robot creature will get the girl at the end

These are from their special "art" truffle collection. They also have an "NYC" collection, where the truffles are painted with, like, taxis and the Statue of Liberty. They did not offer samples, so I can't speak to the chocolates' taste, but trust me when I say that their appearance was pure art.

Each mold is hand-painted, with chocolate then poured in.  Once the chocolate making magic is complete, and the bon bons are removed from the mold, the paint, through chocolate art science, is transferred (beautifully) onto the chocolate.  Does this make the chocolate taste better?  I don't know.  As I said, they didn't have samples.  But this definitely indicates a level of seriousness and attention to detail that we here at the hastily cobbled-together blog known as Chocolate NYC can barely even fathom.

We should also note that this Chocolate Artist expressed to us an interest in moving to New York permanently, if she could find proper investors.  So, to all you extraordinarily rich readers out there... give us money.  And then, if you have any left over, help bring Fleur de Xocoatl to NYC!  Even if you never get a free sample out of it, simply having such a serious chocolate devotee around can only bring joy to us all.


In H.S. Chocolate Co's personal description, they said, "We put a modern twist on old-fashioned classics like candy bars, filled chocolates, and caramels by using fresh, high-quality ingredients and utilizing local purveyors whenever possible." So obviously I'm very into this place-- if there's one thing better than a Reese's peanut butter cup, it's an artisanal peanut butter cup.


Delicious peanut butter chocolates!  David would never approve, but David is also a Mets fan, so he clearly prefers disappointment to fun.

Scratchbread Buttercream Chocolate Brownie

First of all, Scratchbread is great.  It's basically a window in Bed-Stuy through which you can order all sorts of delicious bread-based goods.  Apparently they have an excellent chocolate pizza of some sort, but it was sold out when I went.  So I got the brownie... or so I thought:

actually, i think this is an even messier situation than if you were just to eat mousse with your hands.

They handed me something that looked vaguely like this but told me I had to wait for it to warm up to room temperature.  It was a struggle, but I did manage to wait.  And what I discovered was fascinating.  It wasn't really a brownie at all, but two thin brownies sandwiching chocolate mousse (or maybe chocolate buttercream that tasted just like mousse). Oh, and all that is dusted in cocoa powder!

Now this sounds like some sort of disgusting KFC Double Down-style gut disaster, but it's surprisingly not.  I'm not saying it's light and fluffy, but it is actually manageable.  And exceptionally delicious.  Plus, it's a great way to east mousse, or something indistinguishable therefrom, with your hands, while covering your hands in cocoa powder instead of mousse.  A great brownie in its own right, but with an added bonus.

Bottom Line:  If you are a mousse lover, this is the only brownie you'll ever want.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fresco Hot Chocolate

Fresco has hot chocolate!  And hot caramel, and hot lemon poppy, and hot any flavor you want!  They simply melt their gelato in a machine, with milk added, and you get something amazing:

I made the incredibly smart decision to throw a scoop of the chocolate gelato back into the melted gelato-based hot chocolate.  This is what I would call an intermediate-to-advanced level chocolate lover move.  Try it elsewhere.  It rarely disappoints.

Bottom Line:  I would never have thought to do it, but I guess I am unsurprised that amazing gelato can easily be turned into amazing hot chocolate

Angel's Birthday Cake

Angel's birthday was last week.  This weekend, she had a birthday party.  But it was actually a post-Oscars murder mystery?  I was a skeezy agent.  There was cake:

Ok, guys.  Apparently female Latin pop star Lola Talent, with a talented aspiring actor of a husband, can bake an unbelievable chocolate cake.  I am extremely picky about non-flourless chocolate cakes, as they are almost never chocolatey enough.  This was possibly the chocolatiest flourful chocolate cake I have ever had.  Angel's friends know her well.

The Chocolate Show: Recap #1

this is normal

Every November, this amazing, amazing thing happens in New York City. It's called the New York Chocolate Show. What happens at the Chocolate Show is that roughly 50 incredibly nice chocolatiers set up booths, and for a door price of $35, you-- yes, you, average chocolate lover-- can go inside and eat all the chocolate you can stuff inside your mouth.

Last weekend was our fifth annual Chocolate Show. This may sound impressive, but considering we met some guy on the floor who said he'd been coming since 1999, we are really johnny-come-latelies.

We love the Chocolate Show. We love it. We are very good at it, too. We take notes. We make maps. We pack Pepto Bismol. We unhesitatingly knock out of the way small children who are standing between us and the free samples. You have got to keep your priorities straight.

In addition to eating everything that was free, we also bought a lot of chocolates. The idea of the Chocolate Show is that it happens five or six weeks before Christmas so you can buy Christmas presents there. David and I mostly bought presents for ourselves. Like I said: priorities.

We will devote an entry to each of the products that we purchased. But first we will spend four entries just recapping the experience itself. Here we go...


if you can figure out a way to make this picture a competition, we'll figure out a way to win

If you live in France, Vincent Guerlais has some game where you can guess what your truffle's flavoring is on their website and win something (more chocolate, presumably). We love games, because we love to win, but we could not play because we're not in France.


just to give you an idea of the free sample situation... plates of unlimited truffles were so omnipresent that one does not even need to grab fistfuls and stuff them in ziplock bags.  which is not to say that leila didn't do this anyway....

Last year I bought a box of dark chocolate-covered marshmallows from these folks. They were quite nice, if you like marshmallows. This year I bought four boxes of these All Natural Truffles Dusted with Cocoa Powder by Le Chef Patissier, for only $10! They are delicious, and that is a downright bargain.


don't be distracted by the pretty colors.  you don't need to buy anything that's not thoroughly brown.

From their website: "A brigadeiro is a smooth, creamy chocolate originating from Brazil. It is created by mixing condensed milk, butter, and cocoa powder, which is then melted and rolled into a round shape." It tasted kind of like brownie batter, though, for my tastes, a little too sweet. They had a bunch of different flavors. I tried the brownie flavor and the dark chocolate flavor. David bought a box.

More Chocolate Show updates to come, just as soon as we upload the photos!