|Jacque Torres' original DUMBO shop|
Chocoholics should run, not walk, to A Slice of Brooklyn's Chocolate Tour.
|Goodies at Jacques Torres Chocolate|
|When the Chocolate Room expanded, they found this vintage sign already embedded!|
Fancy French chocolate, in Brooklyn
We had champagne truffles and heart shaped chocolate truffles, along with dark and milk chocolate covered peanuts here. If you have a nut aversion, the shop is happy to offer a substitute, but if you have a peanut allergy, this is probably not the tour for you.
|Heart healthy gifts from the Chocolate Room|
On the day I took the tour, New York had just gotten over nine inches of snow, and several people didn't show up. Our friendly and funny tour guide, Paula, offered us plastic bags to take the extra samples home.
Paula also offered tidbits of information, like the mnemonic to remember the order of the East River crossings, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg: "BMW, like the car." She pointed out Jim Carrey's $19 million Brooklyn home, Hillary Clinton's former campaign headquarters, played clips of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and urged everyone to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge: "it's free!"
Again, pace yourself! Don't eat the extras - bring them home to share, or keep for another day.
|The raw ingredient at Raaka|
We next went to Cobble Hill, where The Chocolate Room has a cafe that makes a spectacular chocolate cake and an incredibly rich hot chocolate. We got a shot of the hot chocolate, made with milk; it's so thick, you could practically eat it with a spoon. We also got a mini cupcake that was a miniaturized version of that chocolate cake.
|Valentino Pier in Red Hook|
Dessert cafe - The Chocolate RoomThe Chocolate Room is actually based in Park Slope, where I live, but I never knew the story behind the successful business. The husband and wife team, a rock drummer and modern dancer, used to go on "dessert dates" when they couldn't afford to eat dinner at a restaurant, and they wanted to open a place specializing in desserts. There's also wine and beer; the black chocolate stout from local Brooklyn Brewery pairs quite well.
But we didn't drink on this family friendly tour (there were no children the day I took the tour, and the crowd included a mix of foreign and domestic tourists and locals who love chocolate). Bottles of water were offered on the bus, and since the tours start at 11am, and end after 3pm, you might want to bring along a healthy, sugar-free snack to eat on the bus. The bus driver stays with the bus, so you can leave bags at your seat.
On a breakWe took a short walk down a long pier at Valentino Pier, in Red Hook. This land is one of the closest to the Statue of Liberty, but the walk is really a break to let the earlier chocolate metabolize before we moved on to our next stop, Raaka.
|Raaka bars, straight off the production line|
We had to wear hairnets at the Raaka factory, since production is ongoing. We could sample - and buy - any of the collection, along with limited series bars like one scented with Douglas fir. There is a "milk" chocolate made with coconut milk; don't think of bringing up white chocolate, which Paula dismissed as 'not really chocolate' here.
|Raaka nibs for sampling, and bars for sale|
But old time, and new: LiLac Chocolates
|Li-Lac and its hip Industry City neighbors|
|Tempting treat at Li-Lac|
Li-Lac bridges the old and the new; it is both Manhattan's oldest chocolate house, having been in business since 1929, and one of Brooklyn's newest; it recently opened a huge production facility in Industry City, the Uber-hip foodie destination in Sunset Park.
At Li-Lac you can watch the kosher chocolate being made through huge windows. The shop, with an intoxicating aroma, specializes in dark chocolate almond bark (we got to sample some) and specialty molds; wen your kid signs his NFL contract, this is where you go to have a football made of chocolate. It also has chocolate hearts, chocolate bunnies, chocolate covered graham crackers and an exquisite riff on a Reese's peanut butter cup, with dark chocolate of course.
Chocolate at home
|Hot chocolate, made with Sugarpova|
I made a vegan hot chocolate by melting four squares of the coconut chocolate into three tablespoons of Natural Bliss coconut milk. The rich, thick hot chocolate was perfect on a winter day.
Note: I was a guest of A Slice of Brooklyn. I was not compensated for this review.