Find the best chocolate shop
As his company’s name implies, chocolatier Daniel Sklaar champions low-heat cooking methods and raw ingredients to preserve cacao’s purest form and purported antioxidants. Procuring his beans from Venezuela, Peru and Madagascar, the former financial analyst devises both bonbon and bars, with the latter available in 78 percent intensity or laced with mesquite, sea salt or cacao and coconut. If you’re tasting F&R for the first time, we suggest one of the plainer varieties, so you can relish the simplicity and quality of the minimally processed goods.
If a pastry chef calls himself “Mr. Chocolate,” it sets pretty high expectations, but the renowned French-raised toque earns his moniker. Though he’s garnered attention for his chocolate-chip cookies and “wicked” spiced hot chocolate, sample his signature truffles to taste the full range of his craft, from the relatively traditional (praline, caramel, fruit-laced ganaches) to the nouveau (Earl Grey, saffron). Other goodies include chocolate-enrobed graham crackers, milk-chocolate covered pretzels and Cheerios, and chocolate-covered espresso beans and more. Stop by the Dumbo or Soho locations to peek through windows into the kitchen.
Every orb at Kee Ling Tong’s confectionery is tempered and dipped by hand to create a thick, smooth shell that encloses either silky cream filling, fluffy mousse or rich ganache. Crème brûlée, black-and-white sesame and Thai chili tend to be the best-selling bonbon flavors, but key lime, blood orange, lavender and blended pepper are also worth the indulgence. Tong’s repertoire recently expanded to bars, which come in both milk (latte, hazelnut) and dark (hibiscus, bergamot, chili-citrus and sea salt) varieties.
Best known for its petite chocolate penguins and mice, the family-owned, New Hampshire–based brand debuted in New York years ago with a shop and café. Assorted pastries (tea cakes and tarts by the slice) share space in cases with pâtes de fruits, marzipan, dipped caramels and assorted truffles. Ponder the choices over a cup of dark, white or milk hot chocolate, or plump for dealer’s choice with the assorted boxes.
Launched in France in 1977, this international brand offers ganaches that pop with fruitiness (lemon, raspberry), herbs (fennel, mint) and liqueurs (kirsch, rum). Boulangerie items—decadent éclairs and feather-light macarons—are just as tempting. The Upper East Side parlor also holds regular classes (called parcours initiatique) on select Thursdays and Saturdays (11am), one covering chocolate-and-tea pairings and the other exploring the nuances of various cacao types and the artisans’ production process.
Artisanal candy makers Liz Gutman and Jen King roll out their first brick-and-mortar shop. At a marble counter, find the duo’s signature sweets (beer-and-pretzel caramels, bacon-bourbon caramel corn), alongside new items like oatmeal cream pie.
Whimsical designs and colorful abstract patterns adorn Maribel Lieberman’s ganache-center squares. Passion fruit is marked by the profile of a couple about to kiss, cilantro pictures two gentlemen saluting a giant red high heel, “wildberry” displays a ’70s-style diamond pattern, and caipirinha is signaled with a golf cart. If you prefer to keep things simple, opt for a box of the cocoa-powder-dusted truffles or the haystack-shaped “cloisters”, which comprise piles of crushed French croquette cookies and dark, milk or white chocolate. Do your best to nab one of the café tables and order spicey hot chocolate and seasonal fruit crêpes.
Choose from more than 100 different chocolates at the Belgian brand’s Madison Avenue flagship. The Astrid, made since 1937, encases the company’s signature gianduja (like Nutella, but better) in a light sugar glaze, while another classic—the Plaisir—fills a nougatine candy with hazelnut ganache and wraps it in milk chocolate.
As with many other New York culinary start-ups, self-taught chocolatier Justine Pringle first tested her wares at the Brooklyn Flea. Her lush sea-salt caramels quickly earned a devoted following, and she’s since opened a brick-and-mortar boutique, where she hawks a wide variety of rich bonbons, including boozy absinthe, mescal-chili, moonshine and sake ganaches. Other offbeat edibles include chocolate-dipped potato chips and honeycomb-toffee–esque “hokey pokey”. If one of the 14 seats is available, stick around and order a drink; craft beers, tea, hot chocolate and wine are all available.