Rather recently, I have become enamored of the Chicago-based chocolatrie Vosges.
They make the most amazing chocolate. It’s all about high quality chocolate combined with interesting and exotic flavors. My first real experience with it was on my November 2006 trip to New York City. David, Sandy, and I had about two hours to spend in SoHo and we spent an hour of it in Vosges’ Haut Chocolat boutique. It was worth it.
We each tried one of their signature drinking chocolates. They have three- the Parisienne, Aztec Elixir, and Bianca. The Parisienne is most similar to normal “hot cocoa.” It truly is drinking chocolate. We ended up buying a box of this mix and it actually has chunks of chocolate mixed in with the powder. The Aztec has a spicy chili addition and the Bianca is a white concoction of lemon myrtle, lavender, white chocolate, and vanilla. David said it tasted like fruity pebbles and the woman behind the counter said that one was also good served chilled.
(Bianca and Parisienne)
After this, we were hooked. We bought a boxed collection of the Exotic Truffles. These assorted truffles combine rich chocolate with typical and bizarre flavor combinations.
Many of the truffle flavors in this collection also come in candy bar form. The candy bars are nice because they keep longer than the truffles. The truffles are made with fresh cream and it is recommended that they are consumed within 10 days. The chocolate bars keep for about 6 months (not that they’ll last that long).
I think one of Vosges’ greatest flavors is the Naga. This is a good one to start with. Sure, you can get more classic combinations like hazelnut or walnut, but why not try something crazy? The Naga is sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes, and deep milk chocolate.
I also love the Black Pearl- Ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds, and dark chocolate. Red Fire is a Vosges staple- dark chocolate, cinnamon, and Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers. At Whole Foods on Prospect & North this past weekend, David and I bought two bars we hadn’t tried before. One of them is new to Vosges- Mo’s Bacon Bar. This is applewood smoked bacon, Alder smoked salt, and deep milk chocolate. I didn’t think I would like it, but Katrina proved me wrong yet again.
You can order all of these yummy products on the website, or do a search for local stores that carry some of the products. Whole Foods has several of the candy bars and even a couple other specialty items (the caramel toffee is awesome comfort food.) Otherwise, if you’re in Chicago, stop at one of their two boutiques (or one of the two in NYC or Las Vegas).
I’m always on the lookout for good chocolate. This place definitely has the “exotic” award in my book. They have inspired me to seek out and bake recipes like these Chocolate Chili Brownies (or Taco Brownies, as they have lovingly been dubbed). I am thinking of making these again this week, but substituting the chili with powdered ginger, thanks to my craving for the Black Pearl bar.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, the Grand Hatbox would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!