Obsession? Addiction? Six of one, half a dozen of the other...and no, I do not want that hand picked box of chocolates gift wrapped, I'll be eating them all myself, thank you very much.
I've only eaten two (so far) today, but this shop definitely won't make my Top 3 list. A little heavy on the sugar, a little too safe with the flavoring. The 3 best specialty chocolate makers I've found so far:
1. Gail Ambrosius, Madison, Wisconsin - I cannot say enough good things about Gail Ambrosius chocolates. There are no words, but here's the ones Gail uses on her website, "Real chocolate is strong, earthy, fruity, floral … a whole world that unfolds on your palate. It’s the deepest, densest tropical jungle mixed with the refinement of Paris and the sheer wonder of childhood." Amen, Sister!
Gail only makes dark chocolate, so if you're into the milky stuff you're out of luck. You can find Gail’s chocolates at her store on Atwood Avenue and a number of wonderful shops and restaurants in the Madison area which are listed on her website. And if you can’t make it to Madison, you can shop online. But be prepared to pay extra to get that gorgeous chocolate to you in peak condition. No cutting corners with chocolates like these! My favorite is the tea inspired collection, especially the Earl Grey, but the gold brushed Buddhas are delightfully delicious as well.
2. Chubby Chipmunk, Deadwood, South Dakota - I kid you not! I was a little unsure when we pulled up in front of this building on the edge of Deadwood, but the chocolates in here are worth the trip to Deadwood alone! All the confections were amazing, not just the truffles. After tasting the raspberry dark chocolate truffles I bought for my daughter I had to go back inside for more because there was no way those were making it home to her! Yum! Photo courtesy of Seriously Foodie.
3. Chocolat´, Galena, Illinois - I admit to stealing the photo below, but I paid for every sinful chocolate I've eaten there. When Wayne and I went to Galena we stumbled upon this shop. We bought $20 worth of fine chocolates...ate them all that night and went back the next day for more. He loved them, and he doesn't even have much of a sweet tooth. The shop is just beautiful, and Galena is not only a shopper's paradise, it has a lot of neat historical things to do as well. We were there in November to celebrate our anniversary without the crowds and toured a mansion, stayed at the historic DeSoto Hotel, and visited the home of Ulysses S. Grant as well. I've also been to Galena and taken the trolley tour in early summer and that was nice also.
Don't want to go to all that trouble of picking out chocolates at a specialty shop? There are great bars available at your local retailers. I'm partial to Chocolove, I about die when I lay my eyes on their crystallized ginger dark chocolate bar, available at Whole Foods and other fine markets. My second favorite is Lake Champlain, especially the coffee filled dark chocolate bar and the peppermint crunch bar. Check their website for retailer locations. And last but not least, I never pass up the opportunity to drop in to World Market and pick up some dark chocolate with sea salt which is available in their stores only.
My advice? Own your obsession, feed your addiction...even sicknesses like mine are good in moderation!