If Willy Wonka were a New Yorker, he’d be proud that the city is now home to a cadre of chocolatiers who are crafting sophisticated sweets out of the magical cocoa bean. Over the last decade, NYC has become a chocolate destination. We have a decadent array of chocolates to choose from, all made right here — from milk to dark, with inventive fillings and creamy ganache coatings. We’ve picked a few must-tries, from old-school to new, just in time for Valentine’s Day:
Chocolat Moderne (27 West 20th Street #904; 212-229-4797)
Tucked away in a nondescript Flatiron office building, this shop features chocolates that pop with flavor and originality. Joan Coukos Todd, a former banker who became a chocolatier after a trip to Belgium, came up with a collection especially for February 14th, which includes white and pink color-swirled hearts that look like rose petals. Fillings for the dark, milk, and white chocolate assortment include Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Baby Bourbon, passion-fruit-cardamom caramel, and raspberry Madagascan ganache. Todd also refined a “Kimono” collection that features Japanese-inspired truffles flavored with shiso-lime, persimmon, and peach. Everything in this store tastes like love.
Raaka (64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn; 855-255-3354)
Since 2010, this Red Hook–based chocolate factory has been making bars using unroasted cacao, which the owners say imparts a greater range of the bean’s flavor. The bars are infused with ingredients like coconut milk, cask-aged bourbon, and maple. Raaka’s First Nibs subscription service sends out three bars (with tasting notes) every month for $24.95 — two limited-edition flavors and one classic. February’s bars are strewn with edible dried flowers: chamomile-lavender and rose-jasmine.
Tumbador (online only; 718-788-0200)
Tumbador’s line of premium classic chocolates, overseen by the expertise of Jean-François Bonnet, the company’s French born-and-trained chef, far surpasses the fancy packaging and marketing craze of other Brooklyn chocolate makers (we’re not naming names). The peanut butter and jelly bar elevates all-American flavors with raspberry pâte de fruit and crisp peanut praline, which are sandwiched in dark chocolate and dusted with raspberry powder. Try the Seven Deadly Sins Repent or Rebel boxes for the holiday — both are filled with the same truffles so it just depends on which sentiment you need to express. The sinful bonbons include: goat’s milk dulce de leche with salt (Sloth); white chocolate with passion fruit ganache (Envy); and pomegranate juice, pomegranate liquor, and molasses (Lust).
Jacques Torres (various locations)
Torres, a/k/a Mr. Chocolate, has nine stores in New York City and sales in the double-digit millions. It’s an empire built on all things chocolate, from a spiced mix for drinking to chocolate-covered Cheerios. The French pastry chef is offering some naughty treats for the holiday. For Fifty Shades of Grey lovers, try the “Spank Me” chocolate hearts. There’s also an “edible kissing game,” a 25-piece assorted box that promises satisfaction all around.
Li-Lac Chocolates (various locations)
The oldest chocolate shop in Manhattan, opened in 1923 by a Greek immigrant, encompasses the best of both worlds — old-fashioned gooey sweets and refined presentation. The store recently moved its production to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, where visitors can now see the Lucille Ball–style assembly line for themselves. For V-day check out the store’s old-school heart boxes, packed with SweeTARTS conversation hearts in bright colors, chocolate nonpareils, and chocolate-covered Oreos.