Anyone under the age of 12 probably thinks chocolate was invented at an amusement park out in PA, but diehard devotees know it dates back to the Mayans, who brewed chocolate into a rich, bitter drink. Then there’s the Aztecs, who believed chocolate was a gift from the god of wisdom and the secret to strength. It’s said they used cacao seeds as currency, not unlike Revolutionary War leaders who sometimes tossed a couple of chocolate nuggets to soldiers in lieu of a paycheck.
No matter how you slice it, chocolate continues to be hailed as a meal-ending must, an antioxidant-rich “health food,” a subtle aphrodisiac, and a daily indulgence for self-professed chocoholics (medical evidence suggests the struggle is real). Good thing Westchester has a number of chocolate shops poised to quench a craving when one hits.
137 Purchase St, Rye; 914.481.4840
Lending cachet to the term “eye candy,” the elegant edibles that decorate the displays at Diane Holland’s haven of all things dark and dreamy look almost too good to devour. From brightly hand-painted shoes, purses, and lipsticks to lollies far too sophisticated for little kids’ hands, this is a cocoa connoisseur’s paradise.
Everything is handmade in small batches using blended Belgian and French chocolate. (Holland also crafts melt-in-your-mouth sweets with single-origin chocolate from Ecuador, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.) Fifty flavors of bon bons, barks, and bars grace the glass case at all times, with a new taste added every two weeks. The current top tempter: luscious Himalayan salted caramel enrobed in milk or dark chocolate.
607 E Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck; 914.777.3600
Enter this expansive establishment on an empty stomach entirely at your own risk. Here, lawyer-turned-chocolatier extraordinaire Maria Valente offers a head-spinning bounty of chocolate treats, from bon bons, truffles, barks, nut clusters, caramels, and malted milk balls to chocolate-enrobed pretzels, nuts, even crackers, along with brownies and hot (or frozen) cocoa.
Every last morsel is made on site with all-natural, premium chocolate from the good ol’ USA. “American chocolate is fresher and brighter because it hasn’t traveled so far,” says Valente.
For Your Valentine: Chocolate-dipped strawberries, to be consumed day of purchase, says Valente who’s “very fussy about very fresh strawberries.”
2107A Boston Post Rd, Larchmont; 914.834.6464
In this petite space reminiscent of a darling Parisian sweet shop, blissful Belgian bark is the pièce de résistance. Within the shop’s candy pink walls, Angela Ingrao is the sweetest chocolatier this side of the Seine, serving up milk, dark, and white chocolate bark delicately dotted with sea salt, toasted coconut, crushed candy canes, dried strawberries, marshmallows, gummy bears, and the list goes on.
Two dozen varieties are on hand daily, each bearing names of special people and places in Ingrao’s life. Bark not calling yours? It’s safe to settle for cocoa-dusted truffles, bon bons, brownies, and a to-die-for, game-changing cup of velvety hot chocolate.
For Your Valentine: Oversized, solid chocolate hearts bearing pulse-pausing declarations like “I Love You” and “Be Mine,” or any other customizable, deeply held sentiment Romeo might care to reveal.
15 Washington Ave, Pleasantville; 914.769.0771
On this offshoot of Pleasantville’s main drag, businesses come and go as long-standing buildings get torn down and rebuilt, but Annette Colasuonno’s little corner of chocolate heaven remains an institution after 34 years. Perhaps it’s because locals never tire of her imaginative Belgian chocolate novelties for every occasion (tiny tennis racquets, baby feet, saxophones, cake candles, and opera glasses, to name just a few).
Or, maybe it’s because each day when the bell rings, she’s overrun by school kids in search of their next sugar high. “They buy everything,” she says. “I have to tell them when they’ve had enough!”
For Your Valentine: Chocolate, heart-shaped boxes packed with sweet treats from the shop, or filled DIY with mousse, ice cream, diamonds (hint, hint), or whatever your loved one’s heart desires.
92 S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco; 914.244.862
Claiming to be “all about the cacao,” Rick and Michael Mast have moved their sweet, bean-to-bar, chocolate-making digs from Brooklyn to a former downtown shoe store in Mount Kisco, with a hip café overlooking the entire process. In house (and in view) they roast organic cacao beans sourced from a family-farm collective in Tanzania, and use traditional stone wheels to slowly refine the freshest chocolate the county has to offer.
“The bars in the café were beans just a couple of months ago,” says Rick. Varietals include naturally vegan dark chocolate, “milk” chocolate fashioned from oat milk and almond butter, and bars infused with mint, coffee, lavender, and raspberry.
For Your Valentine: Old-fashioned candy and flowers will be the thing, with simply wrapped boxes (a Mast Brothers signature) of dark chocolate hearts, a florist on premises, and extended hours to accommodate last-minute gifts.
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