Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emmy's Chocolate Macaroons, Superfood Cereal Cacao Crunch, and Cashewtopia Chocolate "Ice Cream"

I took another trip to Organic Avenue and stocked up on some vegan things:

Here is some foreshadowing: this was a successful trip.

The superfood cereal was great.  It was basically just very chocolatey granola.  I poured the giant bag down my throat in one afternoon.

The macaroons were really good too.  Not quite as good as the Hail Merry ones, but given that I don't love macaroons and that I really enjoyed these, that says a lot.

Lastly, the Cashewtopia-brand vegan ice cream... I'm going to say it was the best vegan chocolate ice cream I've ever had.  I have a longstanding preference for sorbet over ice cream or gelato, so I always vote vegans go that route, but if you want something creamy, this was really excellent.

Bottom Line: At this point, there is absolutely no reason a vegan needs to settle for chocolate bars.  Excellent options abound.

Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons

I previously reviewed Hail Merry's chocolate mint tart, and it was great.  Something that is less surprising to be both good and vegan is the chocolate macaroon:

Well, unless you are me, and not the biggest fan of macaroons.  Well I will say that these are some of the best macaroons I've ever head.  Period.

Bottom Line: Great if you are not a macaroon fan.  I don't know how they'd be if you are a macaroon fan, but I'm going to guess something like "transcendent."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dominique Ansel Bakery Frozen S'more

Most people at this point are aware of Soho hotspot Dominique Ansel Bakery as the creator of the cronut.

What you may not know is that Dominiqe Ansel is also, as of late, the creator of the frozen s'more. Now, we here at Chocolate NYC are big s'more fans, and we are also big fans of frozen desserts, so obviously I needed to check this out.

When I got to Dominique Ansel this afternoon, there was a fair line, but nothing like the line that I've heard gathers there prior to opening every morning as people desperately wait three hours for a cronut.

I did not see "frozen s'more" listed on the menu, so maybe it is some secret thing and I was ordering "off-menu," which sounds cool. Or maybe I just didn't read the board carefully enough.

Nonetheless, I got my frozen s'more. It cost more than $7. Right away, this put me on edge. I understand that a frozen s'more is a unique innovation, unavailable anywhere else, and therefore Dominique Ansel can capitalize on having a frozen s'more monopoly - but really? Seven dollars? This felt like a trick.

For the first few bites, this just seemed to be a giant marshmallow that had been browned with an electric lighter. It was not frozen. It was an excellent, artisanal marshmallow, to be sure, but still just a normal roasted marshmallow.

I ate a little further and eventually came to the frozen bit. This was buried inside the marshmallow, encased on all sides, which seems challenging for a pastry chef to manage. Is it seven dollars worth of challenging? Eh.

The frozen bit inside was some ice cream (I think vanilla?) and some delicious chocolate crunchy things. There weren't that many of the chocolate crunchy things, though. There was an extremely high marshmallow-to-frozen/chocolate stuff ratio, to the point where I even threw away some marshmallow at the end.

Guys, it was okay. It was in no way $7 worth of impressive.

I think the lesson we have now learned twice is that s'mores are perfect with grocery store graham crackers, jet-puffed marshmallows, and a bar of Hershey's. Every time someone tries to complicate that, I just get disappointed.

BOTTOM LINE: I still love the idea of a frozen s'more and want to see it perfected. This version is, at best, a first step down that road.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Taza 70%

I don't really know why Taza isn't my favorite chocolatier, but it's not.

I appreciate their two-disc setup.  I appreciate that it's not too fruity.  I love stone ground chocolate.  But for some reason, I always wind up a bit disappointed.

Perhaps the chocolate is a bit bland, without a rich enough flavor?  Perhaps the texture is in a sort of uncanny valley of groundness, where it is not as rough as Italian chocolate but not as smooth as a conched bar?  I am not sure.  But it's just not really for me.

Bottom Line: Sometimes you just don't like something, and you don't really know why.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Odd Fellows

There is a new ice cream shop in town, and thank goodness for that, since the part of town it's in is Williamsburg, a neighborhood that has until now been absurdly lacking in ice cream options. Recent years have seen the opening of a branch of 16 Handles as well the Williamsburg Creamery, and of course if you walk far enough north, you will come to Van Leeuwen. But none of those quite filled the niche of downtown Williamsburg real ice cream in the way that Odd Fellows does.

Odd Fellows is great. You walk in and you can feel confident that this is a place that is legitimately into ice cream.

They don't offer a lot of chocolate options, but we will forgive them this because they do offer a lot of creative options, such as "Beet with Candied Pistachios and Honey Goat Cheese." Also they change their menu daily, so there's always a reason to go back to see what they have now.

I got a scoop of the Toasted Marshmallow and a scoop of the Chocolate Chunk. I was trying to make an ice cream s'more, apparently. No big surprise there.

It was very solid ice cream. Very solid indeed. And much-needed in this heatwave! I would go back any time.

BOTTOM LINE: A welcome addition to the Williamsburg ice cream scene.

Coney's Cones

Summertime in New York City necessitates a trip down to Coney Island. The sun! The surf! The problem is that Coney Island has terrible ice cream options. Up until about two years ago, your only Coney Island ice cream options as far as the boardwalk could take you were 1) Mr. Softee trucks, and 2) soft serve. Soft serve is fine and all, but it is not real ice cream. And this is a problem because BEACH TIME MEANS ICE CREAM TIME.

Fortunately, a new ice cream option has opened, one that serves actual hard ice cream in a variety of actual flavors: Coney's Cones.

I will be honest with you: Coney's Cones has a lot of flaws. Here are some that I discovered today, when I was down there:

1) They offer only one chocolate-based flavor, and that is plain chocolate.
2) The chocolate ice cream is okay. It's nothing to write home about. It tastes like ice cream that is chocolate.
3) I ordered a chocolate and mint chip milkshake, and it was not as thick as a milkshake should be. They used a high milk-to-ice cream ratio, which is not cool. As I have mentioned before, the ideal milkshakes has a LOT of ice cream and very little milk and syrup. That's what gives it the right texture.

So clearly you should not journey down to Coney Island just to taste this ice cream. Nonetheless, it is far and away the best ice cream I have ever found in Coney Island, or indeed even on the entire bike ride down to Coney Island, on which you pass some Carvels and that's about it. If you can suggest other or better Coney Island ice creameries, I would love to know about them, but until then I must deem this:

BOTTOM LINE: The best ice cream option in Coney Island. And it is impossible to go to Coney Island and not require ice cream.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Physical Graffitea Florentine Iced Tea

I had this chocolate-hazelnut tea at Physical Graffitea on St. Mark's:

It may not have been quite chocolatey enough, but it was cool and delicious.  Definitely recommended.

Bottom Line: It is hot out, and this can help.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Maggie's Kitchen

It's hard to say exactly what this is.  It looks like chocolate, caramel, and cookie.  It tastes mostly like butter.  Either way, you win.

It's made in the basement of some store on the Lower East Side.  In any case, this is a pretty delicious gutbomb.

Bottom Line: Perhaps the best chocolate dessert on East Broadway?

Russ and Daughters

Russ & Daughters is a famous Lower East Side provider of bagels, cream cheese, smoked (and non-smoked) fish, and other such delicious brunch essentials.  Unbeknownst to most, it also sells chocolate.

It sells bon bons:

It doesn't take them that seriously.  They don't make them themselves, and the people who worked their did not know where they got them.  But they were totally serviceable.  They sell chocolate covered pretzels:

... which are honestly pretty hard to mess up.  But the star is this:

Chocolate bagel bread pudding.  Like regular bread pudding, but with bagels instead of bread.  And chocolate chips.

At first bite, you'll be like, "This isn't chocolatey enough.  But I better have another bite."  At second bite you'll be like, "This still isn't chocolatey enough, but I'll have another couple bites."  And pretty soon you are just shoveling it into your mouth like you have not seen food in six weeks.

Bottom Line: This isn't chocolatey enough, but I'll take a dozen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brownie Magic

I know what you are thinking: seeds!  You don't like seeds in chocolate, David!

Well, you know what?  You're right.

Bottom Line: Not a good brownie anyways.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fresco: Still the best

Our recent silence on the subject serves only to show the persistant truth.

Breads' Chocolate Babka

Breads Bakery in Union Square allegedly has the best chocolate babka in the city.  

If this were a baked goods blog or a babka blog, maybe I would agree.  But it is a chocolate blog.  And from that perspective I do not.  Even a cursory examination will tell you that this babka is not chocolatey enough.

Bottom Line: A nice piece of babka that, like everything else in this world, needs more chocolate.

Bernard Castelain "Noir Infini" 99%

Bernard Castelain is a French chocolatier.  He is also very good at his job.

Some friends got me this.  I don't know from where.  I think I need to find out.

Basically, here's the deal:  a 99% bar is usually indistinguishable from a 100% bar, because 1% sugar is just not very much sugar.  But Castelain throws in some extra cocoa butter, in addition to the ground beans, in order to cut the bitterness.  This is the strategy used by Devauve et Gallais to great success.  It works here as well.

Bottom Line: Delicious, edible 99% chocolate.

Friday, July 12, 2013

This thing from Good Health Cafe

I ordered from Good Health Cafe on Seamless.  I ordered a vegan "chocolate mousse cake."  I got this:

Embarassingly, it was actually pretty delicious.  But it was definitely not mousse cake.

Bottom Line: It loses one or two points for the inaccurate name and sloppy presentation, but at the end of the day it is surprisingly passable.

Super Foxy Sweets Classic Fudge and Chocolate Mint Fudge

I had never heard of vegan fudge before.  I had never thought of vegan fudge before.  But it exists, and it is actually pretty delicious.

So, as my friend Walter noted, it does not taste like butter the way non-vegan fudge sometimes does.  It has a light coconut taste, because they use coconut oil or milk or something.  But that's very mild.  It is quite chocolatey, as any decent fudge should be.  It is also incredibly sweet, as any good fudge must be.

They even have a mint flavor, and everyone knows we love mint.

I think by now you can guess where I procure this: Treehaus, of course.

Bottom Line: Vegan fudge that is delicious regardless of whether you are vegan.

Monday, July 8, 2013

La Maison du Chocolat 60% and 74%

I realized that I have been negligent as to La Maison du Chocolat.  It is among my favorite chocolate shops in NYC, and yet the only time I've reviewed it is when I was in Paris.

Friends to the rescue!  I was given two bars of their dark chocolate.  I had never had La Maison's bars, and unsurprisingly, they were excellent.

In fact, they were typical of La Maison -- perhaps not the best bars I've ever had, but they were super-high quality, chocolatey, and satisfying.  Both bars were excellent blended origins, with real thought to combining interesting flavors while keeping the bars delicious and chocolatey at heart.

Bottom Line: La Maison will never steer you wrong in anything.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

FIG, in Charleston, South Carolina

I went on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, where I was lucky enough to get dinner at this crazy-excellent restaurant called FIG (which stands for Food Is Good).

FIG is the sort of restaurant where we paid $15 for a caprese salad and it was worth every penny. This is the sort of caprese salad that I will be talking about for months to come. This is the sort of restaurant where you have to try a bite of every dish at the table, because everything is the best possible version of itself. Like, if you think you might like gnocchi, then you have to try a bite of someone's gnocchi, at which point you will discover that you love gnocchi.

Anyway. This is not a gnocchi blog. This is a chocolate blog.

Here are the two chocolate desserts on offer at FIG:

1) Torta caprese, with amaretto ice cream and strawberry coulis

The bottom layer, as perhaps you can see, is a thin chocolate-nut cake. Celiac-sufferers, take note: that thing has no wheat in it! I feel like I could make that. Maybe for Passover next year. Mine would not be as delicious as FIG's, of course. And it would not be topped with amaretto ice cream. It would be topped with chocolate ice cream. Obviously.

2) Chocolate-hazelnut budino, with olive oil croutons, caramel, and sea salt

This was my personal preference out of the two, though really you cannot go wrong with either. Our waiter was very clever, and she told us to make sure to dip our spoons all the way down to the bottom every single time, to get the perfect balance of caramel and chocolate-hazelnut in each bite. She was completely correct in her advice and now I would like her to advise me on every other endeavor in my life, like maybe how I should invest my money.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the best restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. Possibly, based on their well-deserved press coverage, even one of the best restaurants in the American South, but I cannot speak to that personally because I haven't been to many restaurants in the South. Usually I am just in New York.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blue Marble

This evening I went to Blue Marble and got this:

It's chocolate ice cream with chocolate mint cookies inside it. I don't even know what to say. Every bite was pure bliss. The cookie-to-ice cream ratio and the mint-to-chocolate ratio were perfect. I was so focused on eating this ice cream that I nearly walked into a streetlamp.

BOTTOM LINE: Blue Marble knows what they are doing.