These Brooklyn Chocolatiers Have Perfected Non-Alcoholic Chocolate Beer
The Mast Brothers, known for their artisan chocolate, have perfected a non-alcoholic brew made entirely from chocolate
Wikimedia: Blanxart / Shutterstock
Some people may ask ‘why?’ But chocoholics will respond with ‘why not?’
Chocolate-flavored beer is nothing new. You can find Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, for instance, in many beer stores. But Brooklyn-based chocolatiers the Mast Brothers went one step further: They created a beer made with nothing but cold-brewed cacao beans, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. No flavorings: just literally a beer made entirely from chocolate.The catch? It’s actually a non-alcoholic beer. Think of it as a kid-friendly frothy drink like root beer.
Right now, the chocolate beer isn’t bottled; you can only get the two varieties, Brooklyn Blend and Vanilla Smoke, at the Mast Brothers chocolate factory in Brooklyn. However, they might have plans to bottle it down the road, according to The Huffington Post. There may also be lime and cinnamon flavors in the future.
Even though it’s a non-alcoholic beer with no hops, the process for making the chocolaty brew is very similar to making actual beer. The brothers brew the cacao beans for 24 hours in the same stainless-steel fermentation tanks used to make craft beer. Delish suggests pairing this brew with bourbon or rye to give it a boozy kick.
The 8 Best NA Beers in 2021
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As recently as a decade ago, non-alcoholic beers were nothing special. Breweries modeled most of them on mainstream lagers, the watery liquids lacking alcohol and striking flavors. If you wanted a robustly flavored booze-free beer, you were out of luck. Bars and restaurants even treated non-alcoholic beers as cursory additions to the menu, a lame-duck option amid exciting craft beer. Why order one unless you really wanted one?
Nowadays, non-alcoholic beers have gone from an afterthought to top of mind. Breweries across the country are developing new production techniques and recipes to create NA stouts, IPAs, and wheat beers that are as boldly flavored as anything containing alcohol.
Here are the best non-alcoholic beers to drink anytime you’re craving a cold one.
The Sweet Life Tale of a ChocolatierDaniel Stubbe
By Cristina Carpio,
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It’s no secret that I am a chocolate fan. Not just any chocolate, but good, high-quality ones. I especially enjoy discovering places that takes a lot of pride when it comes to the chocolate making process. Six generation chocolatier and konditor, Daniel Stubbe and his family have been making bread and pastries since 1845. Daniel spent his formative years playing in the kitchen of his family’s hometown. After high school, he was encouraged by his parents to hone his passions into pastry apprenticeship where he grew up in Germany to carry on the family tradition. For a lot of us, sometimes it takes a few years before we figure out what we are destined to do. That’s not the case with Daniel. As soon as he began his apprenticeship, he already knew the chocolate making business was going to be his life as soon as he put on that apron. It certainly makes things easier as their family have always been in the chocolate making and pastry business. During his apprenticeship, Daniels father, Heinrich Stubbe decided to start a life in Canada in 1989 and opened up a small chocolate and pastry shop in Ottawa, Ontario.
Growing up in Germany, a lot of the chocolatiers start as a pastry chef and branch out to specializing in different things according to Daniel. He decided to focus on chocolate making and becoming a chocolatier. Daniel eventually decided to move to Canada and join his father which lead him to open his shop in Toronto in 1995. Even with so many years of experience under his belt, Daniel says he is continuing to educate himself. According to this well-known chocolatier in Toronto, after 20 years in business, he still gets the typical questions from customers such as if the chocolates come from Belgium or Switzerland. Daniel says a lot of people are not aware of the many countries chocolate can come from like Tanzania, Venezuela and others. As a chocolatier, he continues to visit plantations all over the world to this day to keep learning and sourcing from the best suppliers.
Most recently, Daniel decided to take his business to the next level and create his very own blend of chocolates. He partnered up with Cacao Barry, one of the world’s best chocolate institutions in the world. Started by Charles Barry who is a renowned innovator of chocolate, the company strives to continue mastering the process of cocoa and sourcing the best beans in the world. Known for their perfect flavours, textures and finesse chocolates, master chefs, confectioners and restaurants from all over the world go to Cacao Barry to provide them with their chocolate needs. They even have a Chocolate Academy where they offer courses to artisans for professional techniques, and chocolate making trends and recipes. Daniel partnered with Cacao Barry’s OrNoir program to create his very own signature blends Verliebt (German for ‘in love’) and Verspielt (German for ‘playful’). Both the milk and dark chocolate blends are not available anywhere else in the world. It’s all about exclusivity these days, and customers love it. “It is an expression of my love for chocolate, and what I love about it. Verliebt is dark chocolate that constantly evolves and builds on the palate. Each experience with it is slightly different and exciting. Meanwhile, Verspielt is rich, deep and memorable milk chocolate that playfully elevates the traditional milk chocolate taste with a higher cacao content.”
Cristina and Daniel
I’m all for giving back to the community, and I believe every business should make every effort to support local causes at all times. Daniel believes in helping the local economy which I admire. He employs many Annex residents, where his shop is located. He is one of very few chefs who also hires many youths in need of opportunities and second chances in life. Even with no experience in the business, Daniel takes the time to train his staff and guide them in becoming future chocolatiers themselves. Consumers are also more supportive of chefs using local ingredients, and Daniel is one of those chefs. For instance, he uses a Toronto-sourced honey for all his recipes and uses herbs from the community gardens. During the summer months, Daniel even creates limited time hand-painted bonbons using the local ingredients available, a tradition that dates back to his childhood in Germany. What’s next for this chocolatier? He is not interested in opening more shops however very much looks forward to his young daughter Georgia continuing the family legacy.
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Exposed brick walls were painted white, and concrete floors were resurfaced. Burlap bags of cocoa beans line a wall in the linear space.
The team fabricated seven new display cubes made of wood-fibre panels that were imported from Portugal.
"We chose this material to match the look and feel of our black chocolate boxes," said the team. "We finished these surfaces with a special black wax that gives a very deep, matte appearance."
The team extended the retail space so customers can easily walk up to the refining room and view the chocolate making process. The space includes equipment such as stone grinders, which are used to grind down cocoa beans.
The team brought in three small stainless steel brewing tanks, as well as a draft system for the new chocolate beverage.
"The beer is brewed in-house with freshly roasted cacao, cane sugar and water before being carbonated with nitrogen," explained the company. "The result is a non-alcoholic, lightly sweetened and refreshingly delicious beer with a creamy head."
In addition to the new store, the company has opened a "chocolate laboratory". Also located in Williamsburg, the space is "dedicated to experimentation and innovation, where the team will continue to research, test and develop new chocolates, recipes and products." It also serves as an event space.
Other projects for confections include a shop in Tokyo by Nendo, in which colourful chocolate bars are displayed in clear drawers, and a Wonderwall-designed Godiva store in Harajuku, Japan, where melted chocolate appears to drip down the walls.
The Best Chocolate in America
50 of the finest chocolate makers and chocolate shops across the country.
For over a year now, there hasn&apost been a whole lot happening on West 42nd Street, in New York City. Back in March 2020, one of the busiest, most notorious places in the country very abruptly closed down—historic theaters, modern day honky-tonks, hotels, gleaming office buildings, all suddenly mothballed. From Fifth Avenue through Times Square and on past the Port Authority, the casual observer could count the number of open businesses on one or two hands, if they even bothered to come to Midtown at all.
Looks can be deceiving. Who knows, really, what all was going on behind closed doors, but one thing was for certain—if you knew where to look, even during those earliest, darkest pandemic days and weeks and months, you could land yourself some of the finest chocolate in America.
The shimmering, Bryant Park-facing showcase that had been home to Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate had closed, never to reopen, and it would be a very long time before the adjoining two-star Michelin restaurant, Gabriel Kreuther, would be able to welcome guests again, but behind the scenes, a talented team helmed by chef Kreuther, his longtime pastry chef Marc Aumont, and head chocolatier Angela Kim Borah were still filling orders not only for delivery in New York, but for shipping to far away places, as well. Intricate bonbons in thrilling flavors like miso, almond and olive, mango con chile were exciting, modern, the perfect distraction. Most of the world may have come grinding to a halt, but the chocolate gods hadn&apost missed a beat.
Time and again across the country, the story repeated itself, during the last year and counting. From mostly-shuttered market halls to back street workshops, more than a few of America&aposs chocolatiers found themselves busier than ever. Should we be surprised to learn that so many of us found chocolate a comfort, during such a challenging time? Then again, history does repeat itselfter all, it was the Great Depression that gave us so much of the candy we grew up with. An astonishing number of the names we know best today, from Snickers to Three Musketeers to Sugar Babies, came on the market during that time, and stayed put.
With the pandemic dragging on, hard numbers started to come out. According to the National Confectioners Association, which keeps track of these things, consumption of high-end chocolate in America shot up by double digits since March 2020. Chaos today, uncertainty tomorrow? This was chocolate&aposs time to shine.
For those just tuning in, perhaps after years of relatively joyless adulthood and one too many dental bills, the landscape of American chocolate might haven all but unrecognizable. During the last couple of decades, the industry has been very nearly transformed, through an extended period of revolt dating back at least to the turn of the century, with the winds of change blowing even earlier than that, when chocolate makers, those out West in particular, began to ask the question: What is wrong with the chocolate in this country (how much time do you have), and how do we fix it?
Almost overnight, it seems like, we were talking about chocolate the way we talk about wine and coffeeout terroir and tasting notes, about sourcing and sustainability, about direct trade and bean-to-bar manufacturing, about widespread exploitation in the world of cacao-growing, driven by an insatiable demand for commercial cocoa in the wealthiest countries𠅎verything was now on the table. Fast-forward to now, and the scene has grown immensely, with so many new names to remember. So many flashes of brilliance, so many flashes in the pan, so many new classics, so much to mull over.
All these fits and starts later, there are certain things we now understand. We know to ask more—so much more𠅏rom American chocolate. We&aposve changed the way we look at the humble bar, represented in many of our minds as a sugary, milky creature often tasting only faintly of actual cocoa, rarely enjoyed on its own, or at all. In a relatively short period of time, the country has managed to make room in its chocolate-loving heart for an astonishing number of exceptional, and exceptionally minimal, bars of dark chocolate, designed to showcase the unique terroir of its point of origin, often with exceptionally high percentages of pure cacao. (To be considered chocolate in America, all you need is a measly 10 percent—many of the bars on this list clock in at over 70.)
The educated consumer will look for a great deal of things from their chocolate bar these days—transparency in sourcing, fair wages for growers, good ingredients. Are there any fillers? (Organic cane sugar and cocoa butter, yes, but most everything else, no, unless it&aposs high quality milk chocolate, which does exist). Above all, is it smooth, rich, and does it taste as great as the price tag might dictate? These are not bars to be scarfed down on the run, but something you savor, broken off in small pieces, allowing it to melt on the tongue, perhaps paired with wine. Strike it right, and chances are you&aposll never go back to old habits again.
Why so serious, so many chocolate lovers will ask, and they do have a point—we are respecting chocolate more than ever, to be sure, but that doesn&apost mean we had to give up having fun.
While this list focuses rather narrowly on the finest American chocolate bars, because they are something so richly deserving of celebration, there are more high-quality bonbon and truffle makers out there right now than most of us will be able to sample in one lifetime. The supremacy of the classic drugstore assortment (which still has a place in our hearts, if not necessarily on this list) has been challenged, and very effectively, by a new generation of American chocolatiers. This is something to celebrate, as well.
Acalli Chocolate (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Carol Morse&aposs interest in chocolate was sparked during a summer of getting to know cacao growers in Central America, while her anthropologist husband worked toward his PhD. In a modest West Bank workshop, Morse combines cocoa from her favorite farmers with Louisiana cane sugar, giving her two-ingredient bars a distinctive taste and a unique sense of place.
Amano Chocolate (Orem, Utah)
Before very nearly everybody was out there peddling their own single-origin bars, a pioneering Art Pollard was already running away with the idea (and an outsized share of acclaim) out in the chocolate happy Beehive State. For much of the company&aposs fifteen-year lifespan, if you have been eating chocolate at the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, chances are it came from Amano.
Askinosie Chocolate (Springfield, Missouri)
Whether or not they&aposve earned the right, most makers tout their sourcing credentials these days, but direct trade trendsetter Shawn Askinosie has been an absolute leader since the mid-aughts, establishing close ties (and setting up a profit-sharing model) with his farmers. Dark milk chocolate from the Philippines (a favorite Askinosie source) blended with salted Swedish black licorice makes a truly memorable bar.
Cacao & Cardamom (Houston, Texas)
Don&apost knock procrastination—it might just change your life. For Annie Rupani, it was the study breaks from LSAT prep, during which she began teaching herself all about chocolate. The one-time Miss Pakistan World would later begin experimenting, combining modern technique with the bold flavors of her upbringing. Wildly colorful bonbons and patterned bars, in flavors like coffee and cardamom, are a visual feast.
Castronovo Chocolate (Stuart, Florida)
One taste is all you need to understand the difference between pure dark chocolate and your typical American chocolate bar the first is practically a health food, the other a milky-sweet indulgence. Denise Castronovo, who moved into chocolate-making when the last recession left her with plenty of downtime from her consulting business, is one in a growing group of top-level makers successfully fusing the two ideas, creating a high-cocoa content milk chocolate, known in the industry as dark milk. Castronovo&aposs is made with the finest, sometimes very rare, Latin American cacao.
Chequesset Chocolate (North Truro, Massachusetts)
Does Cape Cod have it all, or what? After just a few years in business, Katie Reed and Josiah Mayo&aposs ambitious startup already feels like a summertime (or anytime) essential, covering all the bases, from candies to single-origin bars, and doing so at a remarkable level. Their white chocolate, infused with lemon and thyme, does a great deal of heavy lifting for the much-misunderstood style.
Christopher Elbow Chocolates (Kansas City, Missouri)
A pastry chef by trade, Christopher Elbow always had a serious knack for petit fours, popular enough with guests at his last restaurant job to give him ideas about striking out on his own. Over a decade later, Elbow&aposs highly creative bonbons are some of the most sought-after in the country. Single-origin chocolate bars are as serious as they come.
Chokola (Taos, New Mexico)
For Debi Vincent and Javier Abad, the journey began in Venezuela, both in chocolate-making and in married life. These days, the couple runs an appealing shop just off the Taos plaza, turning out exemplary single-origin, two-ingredient bars, each wrapped in packaging decorated with the work of local artists. The awards have been stacking up of late, but a 75% Bolivia, made with wild harvest cacao, is of special note.
Compartes (Los Angeles, California)
Dating back to 1950, and for generations a favorite of everybody from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis Presley, Jonathan Grahm has taken the family business (where he began work at the age of 15) to new heights, on the strength of some of the most visually appealing, mosaic-style chocolate bars on the market today, wrapped in some of the most appealing packaging. The aesthetic is highbrow, the taste is all fun𠅊 breakfast-worthy bar packed with donut pieces and freshly-ground coffee is a top seller.
Creo Chocolate (Portland, Oregon)
The berry-farming Straub family stumbled into chocolate roughly a decade ago, and never found their way out. A close relationship with a grower of heirloom cacao in Ecuador is the foundation of most, if not all of their very fine, frequently award-winning work, from the purest of bars to melt-on-the-tongue caramels topped with black lava salt.
Cultura Craft Chocolate (Denver, Colorado)
Damaris Ronkanen sources sustainably-harvested white cacao from Tabasco state𠅊t the heart of a region with roughly 4,000 uninterrupted years of growing experience𠅏or her intriguing 70% Mexico bars. Ronkanen&aposs Mexican drinking chocolate and cacao-infused Cafe de Olla blend were inspired by childhood visits with family in Puebla.
Dick Taylor Chocolates (Eureka, California)
Inspired by a new generation of makers changing the face of chocolate, woodworkers Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor brought the revolution home to remote Humboldt County back in 2010, quickly making a name for themselves with top-quality single origin, two-ingredient bars. Their black fig bar is something of an industry legend by now, and the drinking chocolate is top notch.
Eclat Chocolate (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
Some of the country&aposs most intricate bonbonsramels infused with calvados, truffles made with rare, Peruvian Nacional cacaon be found at the masterful Christopher Curtin&aposs workshop west of Philadelphia, but don&apost miss the crowd-pleasing bars, milk or dark, filled with crunchy Pennsylvania Dutch-style pretzels made in nearby Lancaster County.
EH Chocolatier (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Pure, dark chocolate is already vegan, and these days you can find the bar of your dreams at most every maker on this list. Near-perfect vegan truffles? That&aposs another matter. This woman-owned operation finds a sweet balance with delicate vegan meltaways that will seduce very nearly any skeptic.
Eldora Chocolate (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Money man turned chocolate guy Steve Prickett came up like so many makers on this list, tinkering at home in his spare time fast forward a few years and he&aposs picking up serious awards for his well-sourced, single-origin bars. A flair for distinctive local flavors—mole spice, piñon, chiles—makes Eldora&aposs inclusion bars (industry speak for bars with stuff added to them) uniquely New Mexico.
Fran's Chocolates (Seattle, Washington)
Maybe you&aposre looking to trace the origins of new wave American chocolate, or perhaps you&aposre merely hunting for some of the best chocolate in America either search may well lead you to Fran Bigelow, who set up shop in the early 1980s, pioneering notions of fair trade and sustainability. President Obama&aposs love of the smoked sea salt caramels is by now well-documented.
French Broad Chocolate (Asheville, North Carolina)
Dan and Jael Rattigan learned at least two things from their years living on an abandoned cacao farm in coastal Costa Rica—one, they weren&apost beach people. The other was that they really wanted to make chocolate. After more than a decade in business, their single-origin bars are some of the nicest—pure, but lush—in the South.
Fruition Chocolates (Shokan, New York)
Some of the most elegant chocolate bars in the country right now come from Bryan and Dahlia Graham&aposs relatively modest operation in the rustic Catskill Mountains. From beautifully minimal single-origins (a citrus-tart Madagascar Sambirano) to a series of exceptional dark milks (Peru Marańon, in particular), each bar is as rich and smooth as the last.
Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate (New York, New York)
Gabriel Kreuther&aposs eponymously named restaurant is very likely the only two-star Michelin establishment ever to grace West 42nd Street in collaboration with restaurant pastry chef (and long-time pal) Marc Aumont, Kreuther is turning out some of the city&aposs most exquisite chocolates.
Buy it: Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate, Chef&aposs Selection, $99 at goldbelly.com
Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates (Sacramento, California)
fter honing her skills in faraway places like Chicago and New York, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn returned west to open her dream atelier, fusing European style with a seasonal, cheerful California aesthetic. The result is one of the sunniest𠅊nd still, quite serious𠅌hocolate shops on this list. Everything feels fresh and fun.
Goodnow Farms Chocolate (Sudbury, Massachusetts)
Subtle notes of apple cider, maple syrup, and rye whiskey give the obsessively sourced, delicately flavored bars at this family outfit on a historic New England farm a distinct sense of place. Tom and Monica Rogan started out in the trade just a little over five years ago, but have already managed to comfortably secure a place for themselves right near the head of the pack.
Guittard Chocolate (San Bruno, California)
Lyon-born Etienne Guittard came to California dreaming of gold, striking it rich not in the Sierras, but in San Francisco, where he founded what would grow to become one of the longest-running makers in the country. Four generations later, the family-owned company remains a trusted friend to bakers and chocolatiers (large and small), as well as lovers of a fine dark bar, and one of the finest drinking chocolates available at your local supermarket.
Harper Macaw (Washington, D.C.)
With a strong focus on cacao grown in Brazil𠅌o-founder Sarah Hartman is Brazilian by birth—this bean-to-bar maker has become a standout in the nation&aposs capital, emphasizing direct trade with their growers and partnering with organizations that work tirelessly to protect and restore the rainforest.
Indi Chocolate (Seattle, Washington)
Last spring, with the historic Pike Place Market all but silent, this relatively recent arrival was still humming, producing some of the city&aposs best chocolate, something you don&apost say lightly in a town like Seattle. Erin Andrews started out just over a decade ago, moving into the market&aposs long-awaited extension in 2017 Indi&aposs direct trade, single-origin bars ought to have your attention.
Jacques Torres Chocolate (New York, New York)
From orange slices to macadamia nuts, there&aposs very little one of the most famous makers on this list (he&aposs the head judge on Netflix&aposs Nailed It) won&apost cover in chocolate. After a high-profile career as a pastry chef, the France-born Torres launched New York City&aposs first artisanal bean-to-bar operation back in 2000, well ahead of trend.
Buy it: Jacques&apos World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, 12-pack, $70 at goldbelly.com
Kahkow (Brooklyn, New York)
Think of this Williamsburg shop and cafe like an Apple Store, except the product line being showcased, ever so proudly, is cacao grown in the Dominican Republic. Operated by one of the country&aposs largest cacao growers and exporters, the chocolate made here is about as direct trade as you will find.
K+M Chocolate (Napa Valley, California)
A partnership between Thomas Keller and one of Italy&aposs most revered olive oil producers (Armando Manni) has yielded, with chocolatier Chi Bui at the helm, some seriously beautiful bars, each finding the perfect balance between obsessively-sourced single-origin chocolate and an olive oil prized by chefs around the world.
Buy it: K+M Chocolate Bar Signature Set, $119 at goldbelly.com
LetterPress Chocolate (Los Angeles, Chocolate)
With nearly twenty single-origin bars available as of this writing, Corey and David Menkes (who started making chocolate in their apartment less than a decade ago) continue to clearly demonstrate a serious passion for sourcing, equalled only by their talent for the finished product, often created with nothing more than a bit of organic unrefined cane sugar. The distinctive Ghana Ashanti—in 100%, 70%, and dark milk—is far from your average single-origin.
Lonohana Estate Chocolate (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The one state where following the bean-to-bar ethic doesn&apost require so much as a crosstown commute also happens to be one of those rare places in the world where cacao growers produce their own chocolate for sale𠅊 14-acre farm on Oahu&aposs North Shore is the source and inspiration for some of the finest all-Hawaiian chocolate on the market, made in very small batches.
Madhu Chocolate (Austin, Texas)
Harshit Gupta and Elliott Curelop source quality cacao from the Tumaco region of Colombia𠅊 favorite among some of the most accomplished makers on this list𠅊nd then go wild with the flavors, drawing on Gupta&aposs Indian childhood for inspiration. Saffron, black pepper from Kerala, cloves, and coriander all make welcome appearances.
Markham & Fitz Chocolate (Bentonville, Arkansas)
Lauren Blanco and Preston Stewart came to chocolate from two very different backgrounds, cultural anthropology, and chemistry, but however they got here, it&aposs safe to say they have arrived, in all senses of the word. Imaginative, beautifully-packaged bars like the Brain Food, an 85% Dominican Republic packed with berries, nuts, acai, and maca root, have managed to make quite the impression, in a relatively short period of time.
Maverick Chocolate (Cincinnati, Ohio)
In 2014, after a career as a mechanical engineer in the aviation industry, Paul Picton launched headlong into an entirely new phase of life—realizing his dream of becoming a chocolate maker. Ably assisted by his family, Picton is turning out some exceptional single-origin bars, recently a relatively rare (at least on the mainland) 100% Hawaiian, sourced from the Big Island&aposs Mauna Kea Estate. (Catch it if you can.)
Milla Chocolates (Los Angeles, California)
American chocolate has improved by leaps and bounds, but most domestic makers have yet to attempt the level of aesthetic taken for granted in cities like Paris and Barcelona, where the shop experience is typically fussed-over as much as the product. Chocolatier Christine Sull Sarioz comes from a background in the fine and decorative arts with designer husband Goktug, she has created one of the country&aposs most astonishing boutiques, filled with equally beautiful (and exquisitely packaged) chocolate. Seasonal citrus bars in flavors like Meyer lemon and blood orange are almost too pretty to tear apart.
Monsoon Chocolate (Tucson, Arizona)
Adam Krantz&aposs chile mango, hibiscus caramel, and mesquite-smoked whiskey infused bonbons practically leap out at you with their sense of place. As Southern Arizona&aposs most accomplished chocolatier, Krantz has proven himself wonderfully versatile, garnering impressive notices for nicely-packaged bars as well, including one from Madagascar&aposs Sambirano Valley, a particularly sought-after source.
Patric Chocolate (Columbia, Missouri)
The type of success this small company has enjoyed since launching fifteen years ago typically leads to serious growth, but founder Alan "Patric" McClure, who spent one very influential year in France before starting his business, has been perfectly happy to keep things small. As a result, some of the country&aposs most award-winning chocolate is also some of the most difficult to find, released in small batches (and available through the web site) whenever McClure finds the time.
Potomac Chocolate (Occoquan, Virginia)
Back in 2010, Ben Rasmussen turned his Northern Virginia basement into a chocolate laboratory, transitioning relatively quickly from enthusiast to one of the best bean-to-bar makers in the DMV. Impeccably-sourced two-ingredient bars are the main offering from this diminutive operation, but Rasmussen has lately been tinkering with the notion of a better kind of milk chocolate, with considerable success.
Raaka Chocolate (Brooklyn, New York)
From advocacy for increased transparency in the supply chain to a unique specialty in unroasted dark chocolate, everything about New York City&aposs best bean-to-bar manufacturer speaks to a passion for grabbing the consumer by the lapels and bringing them as close to the source as possible without actually forcing them onto a plane. A three-bar springtime collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden is well worth seeking out.
Recchiuti Chocolates (San Francisco, California)
Over nearly a quarter century, Michael and Jacky Recchiuti have grown one of the country&aposs finest chocolate shops from farmers&apos market pop-up to renowned producer of some of the most elegant truffles being made this side of the Atlantic. Their Black Box collection pieces, in delicate flavors like bergamot tea and tarragon grapefruit—is the perfect gift for somebody (very, very) special.
Ritual Chocolate (Park City, Utah)
Rescued from a barn in Germany where it had been mothballed for decades, an antique conche (the modern chocolate maker&aposs must-have tool, invented by one Mr. Lindt in Zurich, back in the 1800s) appears to have been something of a good luck charm for this high-elevation, highly-decorated chocolate maker. A lavender and juniper berry bar tastes like a warm summer day in the Wasatch Range.
Seahorse Chocolate (Bend, Oregon)
Every now and then, in the age of the two-ingredient bar, one will come along and fool you into thinking that you&aposre being put on—the award-winning Honduras at this spunky, single-origin maker east of the Cascades hints so urgently at the likes of toffee and brown sugar, some tasters have been all but convinced these are actual ingredients. Terroir—it&aposs a beautiful thing.
Sees Candies (South San Francisco, California)
Founded a century ago in Los Angeles by a family of Canadian expats, this West Coast institution (proudly owned by Warren Buffett, since 1972) produces, hands down, the finest classic assortments widely available in the fifty states, made with quality Guittard chocolate and California-grown nuts. Fun fact: When Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance were rehearsing for the famous I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode, they worked at See&aposs to learn the tricks of the trade.
Solstice Chocolate (Murray, Utah)
On the relatively crowded playing field of Utah chocolate making, DeAnn Wallin is well-known not only for her strong commitment to seeking out the finest single-origin cacao, and going everywhere from India to Ghana to Madagascar to get it, but also for the end result—some of the smoothest, most deliciously accessible bars of their kind on the market.
Taza Chocolate (Somerville, Massachusetts)
After falling for the traditional style, stone-ground chocolate he tasted in Mexico, Alex Whitmore apprenticed with a miller in Oaxaca in order to learn how to hand-carve his own granite mill stones. A decade and a half later, this fair trade-pioneering company&aposs Mexican-style chocolate discs% organic𠅊re some of the finest around, making for a memorable drinking chocolate experience.
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, Washington)
First in the country to be certified both organic and fair trade, this powerhouse brand—you&aposll find their bars on shelves across the country—is not only serious about sustainability, but committed to accessibility as well, offering some of the best-priced bars on this list, along side a whole line of amusing (and delicious) creations like peanut butter and jelly cups.
Valerie Confections (Los Angeles, California)
From serious-times single-origin bars to big-fun bittersweet champagne truffles, pastry chef and chocolatier Valerie Gordon has this uncanny knack for doing it all, and very well at that. Whether you&aposre in the market for a handful of almond fleur de sel toffee, or an elegant grand assortment, you are in exceptionally capable hands here.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois)
Well before the current reinvention trend began, Katrina Markoff was pushing at the boundaries of American chocolate, packing bars full of bacon, sea salt, or chili peppers. Decades later, the offerings from Vosges are imaginative as ever, and equally sustainable—the company operates from a Platinum LEED-certified facility in Chicago, and recently planted its first crop of cacao in Belize.
Buy it: Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection, 16 pieces, $49 at goldbelly.com
Wildwood Chocolate (Portland, Oregon)
Producing some of the most visually-appealing chocolate bars in the country right now—there&aposs a reason they&aposre packaged in clear wrappers—this bite-sized outfit that you don&apost need to be all things to all people, in order to be successful at chocolate, or to win a slew of awards. Just a handful of flavors are offered, from delicate caramel and fennel pollen to the kids-of-all-ages friendly Texas pecan brittle.
Wm. Chocolate (Madison, Wisconsin)
Starting with a series of kitchen experiments in 2015, William Marx has proven himself as one of the most skilled practitioners of the bean-to-bar method in the Upper Midwest right now. From sourcing to packaging, everything is as close to 100% sustainableਊs possible.
Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate (Atlanta, Georgia)
After being spoiled by the truly bean-to-bar chocolate culture they discovered during an extended stay in Costa Rica, Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt filled their suitcases with cacao and came home to learn how to make chocolate over the better part of a decade, their micro-sized Krog Street Market operation has grown to become one of the region&aposs most important chocolate makers.
Zak's Chocolate (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Rare is the chocolatier that attempts to do absolutely everything completely from scratch hobbyists gone pro Maureen and Jim Elitzak take pride in doing all of the work themselves, from sorting ethically-sourced single-origin beans to wrapping the often award-winning bars for sale. Their not-to-be-missed (even if you&aposre a major skeptic) white chocolate is made with just three ingredients—house-pressed cocoa butter, whole milk, and organic cane sugar.
Mikkeller Limbo Raspberry
What We Like: Gypsy-brewed at the famous De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium, this newly imported Mikkeller beer balances tartness and acidity with earthy, farmhouse notes reminiscent of graham crackers or baking crust. It&rsquos a wonderful representation of a beer called Flemish Primitive worth seeking out in its own right.
Watch Out For: Calorie counters, beware. This unassuming beer packs more calories per can than a Bud Light.
Price: $40 for a 12-pack
O&rsquoDoul&rsquos Non-Alcoholic Beer
What We Like: Credit where it&rsquos due. Compared to other NAs in its weight class &mdash Clausthaller, Heinken, Beck&rsquos &mdash O&rsquoDoul&rsquos was crisp, dry and refreshing, not cloyingly sweet and artificially malty.
Watch Out For: Forget about complexity. Old-fashioned O&rsquoDoul&rsquos is what you drink when you&rsquore thirsty, not curious.
Price: $8 for a six-pack
Partake N/A Pale Ale
What We Like: Partake&rsquos brews offer an impressive amount of flavor considering the simplicity of the ingredients (water, barley, hops, yeast) and number of calories in each can. The Pale Ale, at just ten calories, is floral and hoppy with delicate hints of lemon peel.
Watch Out For: This brew really puts the pale in pale ale. If you like your brews hoppy and bitter (think: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale), look elsewhere.
Price: $10 for a six-pack
Surreal N/A Mavs Hazy IPA
What We Like: Surreal&rsquos stab at the beer style à la mode is refreshingly accurate: by the nose alone, you&rsquod be fooled into thinking this was the latest offering from the likes of Other Half, Trillium or any other of the country&rsquos hyped producers.
Watch Out For: A little watery. While the notes get there, drinkers craving a real-deal hazy New England IPA will miss the style&rsquos characteristic mouthfeel.
Price: $8 for a four-pack
What We Like: Suntory's All-Free is a near beer that's like a seltzer with beer-like properties. It uses hops to give the brew aromas and a bitterness like your favorite beer, but there is absolutely zero alcohol. In essence, All-Free is like a cereal seltzer that's light, crisp and refreshing.
Watch Out For: Don't go into this thinking you're about to have full-beer flavor. Enter All-Free with the expectation that it's a seltzer mimicking a beer and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Can the best European chocolatiers be found in Manhattan ?
I always brag to my friends about living in the best city in the US, hence I've always thought that I can indulge myself with some the best chocolate from Europe here. Having said that, I have voluntarily walk to almost every chocolatier found in every corner of Manhattan (and Brooklyn actually).
To name a few, I've been to Godiva, Richart, Fauchon, Leonidas, La Maison du Chocolat, Teuscher, Perugina, Lyndt, Neuhaus, a couple more around Soho and Nolita area, even Jacques Torres outside Manhattan.
I personally love Teuscher the most and some of the selection at La Maison, but according to many European friends, especially those Frenchmen and Switzerland natives, there is nothing in New York City that even close as the chocolate made by the great chocolatiers in Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Belgium.
I wonder if this a true statement based on fact or just a overstatement by those sometimes over-pompous Europeans ?
Can someone who are more expert in this topic reccomend me a Chocolatier that I have not been to or a particular chocolate products that can compete or at least on par with some of these claimed to be the best European chocolatiers only found in Europe ?
all i can say is “you’re welcome”!
beer cupcake recipe: dark beer chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting
(this recipe has been reprinted on several blogs and beer websites, but i think the link above is to the original recipe… if not, i apologize profusely)
1 cup flavorful dark beer– I used Rogue Mocha Porter but Lagunitas Cappucino Stout and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (hometown love!) are also faves. Ask your favorite beer geek for a recommendation.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Combine the beer and butter in a large sauce pan and heat to melt.
Remove from heat whisk in the cocoa, sugar, and espresso.
In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then whisk into the beer mixture.
Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter.
Pour into cupcake pan (you can go a little more than ¾ full on these) and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea
Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat—stir with a wooden spoon to combine
Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium/medium-low heat for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
(Do not stir from this point on, but once it starts to turn brown at the edge you should carefully shake/swirl the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.)
Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Be careful. The mixture will bubble up!
Stir the mixture. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
Pour into a Pyrex measuring cup.
Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick and warm, about 20 minutes.
1.5 sticks butter at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup salted caramel
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
Add 3/4 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
Sift rest of powder sugar, in 1 cup increments and beating between each, until you arrive at the thickness and sweetness you desire.
To Assemble: Frost the cakes, drizzle leftover caramel on top, and sprinkle a few grains of salt on each one. Top with a chocolate covered espresso bean if you’re feeling fancy. Pair with the rest of your beer! Makes 22-24 cupcakes.
Jacques Torres Shows How to Make a Chocolate Sculpture
Famed Brooklyn chocolatier Jacques Torres recently showed ES (and some other folks) how to make one of those fancy-pants chocolate sculptures you see at weddings and bar mitzvahs but would never think to make yourself. Seems like it would be really difficult, right? Turns out it’s child’s play. All you need is some high-quality chocolate and a few balloons.
Step 1: Jacques melts down a pot of dark chocolate over indirect heat, and then spreads a six-inch circle of it out on a papered baking sheet. Then he blows up a balloon and sticks it on the chocolate (really!)
Step 2: Jacques pours the rest of his chocolate into an icing-squirter thing (what are these things really called, anyone?) and starts drawing chocolate lines from one end of the balloon to the other.
Step 3: He then crisscrosses with chocolate lines going the other way across the balloon.
Step 4: He throws the whole shebang in the fridge for twenty minutes or until the chocolate hardens.
Step 5: He takes the chocolate out of the fridge and pops the balloon (fun!)
Step 6: Carefully, remove the balloon from the center of the now hardened chocolate cage.
Step 7: For added fanciness, Jacques had previously constructed these smaller chocolate flowers. He made them by blowing up smaller balloons and dipping them three times in a bowl of chocolate — dip, 1/3 turn, dip, 1/3 turn, dip. Presto — chocolate flower.
Step 8: Once everything was hard, he stuck the flowers on the chocolate cage by squirting a little liquid chocolate down and pressing the flowers (carefully!!) onto the rungs. Like paste, but tastier.
Step 9: Fill the flowers with candy.
Step 10: Eat. Impress. Love.
Top secret chocolatier’s tip: After melting, add some water to the liquid chocolate to make it thicker, so that it will hold its shape when you’re squirting the lines. Water actually makes it thicker, not thinner. Who would have thought?
Chocolate Cream Cold Brew Whiskey Cocktail
This Chocolate cocktail is perfectly creamy and delicious. It's and easy recipe and will be sure to please!
Chocolate Cream Cold Brew
- 1.50 oz Whiskey
- 1.50 oz Cold Brew Coffee
- .50 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz Mozart Chocolate Cream
- .50 oz heavy whipping cream
- .50 oz Cynar
- 2 drops Angostura Bitters
- 2 drops cherry bitters
Whipped Cream Topping
- For the Whipped Cream topping: whisk or blend the cream, bitters and honey together until soft peaks form. Store in fridge until ready.
- Combine all ingredients for the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew in a shaker and shake well with ice.
- Pour into a coupe. Top with whipped cream topping.
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