Truffle Tour: 5 Top Chocolate Shops in New York City
MarieBelle chocolate truffles: banana, lavender, sesame
(from left, clockwise).
We started at Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn, New York City's only bean-to-bar operation. A display table showing off piles of solid, single-origin bars also held four plates of broken pieces of chocolate to sample. And though our mission was truffles, we started with the pure chocolate. One chocolate from Madagascar was absolutely stunning, with prominent raspberry notes, like a fruit-forward wine. At the counter, we found truffles and bon-bons, so we picked up one banana caramel bon-bon and one dark chocolate truffle rolled in confectioner's sugar ($2 each). The bon-bon had a soft caramel center flavored with what tasted like true banana, no imitations and flavorings here. As for the truffle, my friend, who's more of a truffle expert than I am, says she looks for a delicate shell and the right texture inside, this one was high quality in both areas.
We hopped on our bikes and pedaled over the Williamsburg Bridge, burning a few calories along the way, and parked outside Essex Street Market, where inside we'd find our second shop.
Roni-Sue specializes in bacon-chocolate creations, but also has an interesting line of cocktail-inspired truffles, including a Manhattan (bourbon, sweet Vermouth, and cherry), which tasted uniquely sour in contrast with the sweetness of the chocolate. Another stellar creation was a beer caramel, covered in chocolate and topped with pretzel pieces. The most basic and classic truffle, in this case called "chocolate cake" tasted dry and uninspiring.
Back on the bikes, we winded our way up to Soho, where we intended to hit at least three more chocolate shops.
|Marie-Belle Chocolate in New York.
By the time we arrived at Voges, just around the corner on Spring Street, I was already started to feel sugar overload. My friend and I had been sharing the chocolates, eating only half of a truffle or bon-bon each, but it adds up fast. We were turning down free samples at this point, and struggling to choose new truffles. Should we do more comparative tasting and stick with flavors we already had, or go in a new direction. I caved at Voges and picked a seasonal limited edition "Italiano" that was flavored with balsamic vinegar and roasted hazelnuts, lovely and subtle. For our second truffle at Voges, we opted for coconut, in part because it was offered as a free sample and we just couldn't keep turning them down. It had a strong coconut flavor and lots of sweetened shredded flakes on top, which is fine by me.
Ginger chocolate truffle (left) and black sesame truffle
at Kee's Chocolates in New York.
N 3rd St., Brooklyn
Recommended: Madagascar single origin chocolate, banana caramel bon-bon
120 Essex St. (inside Essex Street Market)
Recommended: Manhattan truffle (bourbon, sweet vermouth, cherry) and beer caramel with pretzel
484 Broome St.
Recommended: lavender truffle
132 Spring St.
Recommended: seasonal "Italiano" truffle with balsamic vinegar and roasted hazelnuts
80 Thompson St.