A couple of summers ago, I worked as an assistant to a chocolatier. Our workdays consisted of afternoons spent in my boss’ sun-flooded West Village brownstone. He was a bit of a recluse, so whenever we needed ingredients for the elaborate treats we made, he’d send me strolling over to Chelsea Market, where I’d peruse specialty italian grocery stores for things like passion-fruit puree and marzipan.
Oh yeah, and I got tons of free chocolate. Naturally, it was one of my favorite jobs to date.
Much like a little black dress, string of pearls, or a starched and pressed white collared shirt, chocolate never goes out of style. In recent years, the artisan chocolate bar has gained popularity, and along with it the idea of an “insider’s look” at the making of the treat in question.
Brooklyn, newfound home to all things bespoke and artisan and mildly uppity, houses more than one chocolate factory with a personalized tilt.
Raaka is a company that makes what they call “virgin chocolate.” It’s chocolate where the cacao beans aren’t necessarily roasted beforehand (a step that most chocolate-makers use to produce the standardized taste that we associate with chocolate). Instead, Raaka uses unique processes for different types of beans, in an attempt to “make chocolate that preserves the complex and surprising flavors of the cacao beans we start with, and create an adventurous and novel chocolate tasting experience.”
Raaka has tours of their chocolate factory available for curious consumers–though they warn that the experience may result in some chocolate splatter on your clothes!
Then, there’s Fine & Raw, located in the heart of Bushwick. This trendy chocolate company is dedicated to making raw chocolate, their website boasts: “We craft artisan confections using conscious ingredients and innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and flavor.”
And, of course, there is the prolific Mast Brothers brand. A company which proves that image is everything, as their perfectly packaged bars may have tricked many into paying a pretty penny for average-ish chocolate; their ingeniously marketed chocolate has been compared to Ponzi schemes!
One thing is for sure: even though food trends change with the blowing wind, chocolate isn’t going anywhere. So, you might as well get to know what’s out there!