“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” -Charles M. Schulz
There are so many things that can be said about chocolate, it's hard to know where to begin. Like most people I know, especially women, I have what might be called an unhealthy obsession, but really, what's not to love? From the way it's packaged and sculpted to the explosion of body-wide sensations when it hits your tongue, chocolate is something to be cherished, nay, revered.
Though most have seen the film version, the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory differs a bit when it describes Charlie's unique reverence for chocolate, how he hungered for that more than any food in the world, and how he treasured his birthdays when his whole family would save up to give him a chocolate bar. “And each time he received it, on those marvelous birthday mornings, he would place it carefully in a small wooden box that he owned, and treasure it as though it were a bar of solid gold.” The only thing finer than experiencing the glory of chocolate for yourself is sharing it with somebody else.
Though Mother's Day encourages us to throw a little extra love Mom's way to show appreciation for our existence and for her role in making you what you are today, pretty much any day would be a good day to buy Mom (or Dad) some chocolate. While Snickers Bars and Kit-Kats have their own convenience-store charm, there's nothing quite like chocolates made with a little extra love and attention.
When discussing chocolatiers in the area, my first go-to would have to be Sucré. Since 2007, chef and co-founder Tariq Hanna and his team have been slinging delicate, European-quality chocolates to the addicts of the Crescent City. Definitely on the higher-end of the chocolate shops in town, Sucré can be pretty pricey, but it is possible to stay in budget and score fantastic chocolate. Wrapped in pretty pastels, a bar or two of their 65-percent single-bean dark chocolate bars with candied violet, coconut, and toasted almond, or Sicilian pistachio and rose petals, would make the perfect treat for Mom. Or, you can get a four-piece favor box of bonbons of your choice, like the “Avery” with salted caramel and double cream chocolate with fleur de sel; “Raspberry Cheesecake,” a white chocolate truffle blended with cream cheese and swirled with raspberry jam; and, most recently, the Meuniere chocolate created for our city's tricentennial celebration, made with Swiss white chocolate, brown butter, and sea salt, encased in a black and gold, dark chocolate shell.
Known primarily for their chocolate cream cheese-filled king cakes, Bittersweet Confections in the Warehouse District also offers a delightful array of chocolates and other confections. Founded by local entrepreneur Cheryl Scripter in 2002, this Magazine Street bakery and café is a great spot Downtown to pick up a cup of coffee and indulge in a bite or two of pure bliss in the form of handmade crème brûlée and blood orange dark chocolate truffles, cherry almond bark, rich caramels, or colorful flower-shaped dark chocolates accented with fresh berries. Oh, and before you're too dizzy, don't forget to save some for Mom.
Finally, one of the most recent Willy Wonka-ish wizards on the scene is none other than the bean-to-bar dreamers at Piety & Desire. Talk about going the extra mile, Chris Nobles is the artisan extraordinaire who takes fermented cocoa beans and turns them into bonbons and bars with a rare richness in flavor I've never experienced before. The chocolates available seem to shift on a whim, but if you have the good fortune to taste the Satsuma Zinger, you will definitely know the delights of which I speak. Bring your mom to the South Broad Street shop and return frequently … you know (ahem), to keep up with Nobles's evolving skill and creativity.