Chocolate is one of the most beautiful substances on earth with a rich history, and it comes from the cacao bean, native to South America. The Mesoamericans were the first to use cacao until the Aztecs overtook the Mesoamerican empire. The Aztecs ground cacao into a bitter drink to use during special ceremonies, as it gave the drinker strength. When Columbus and other Spaniards conquered the Aztec culture, they brought the secrets of cacao with them to Spain, where chili was added to the drink, benefiting the stomach. They also began to add honey and sugar to sweeten it at this time.
Cacao was so popular in Spain, it was exported to the rest of Europe, and enjoyed by nobles and commoners alike. The Dutch, French and English began planting and cultivating cacao and began to learn more of its secrets. The Dutch and the Swiss found a way to separate cacao butter from the beans, and invented Dutch cocoa, the hot chocolate powder. Then they reintroduced the cocoa butter and aerated the liquid cocoa and added sugar, creating chocolate as we know it today. Because the Dutch, Swiss and French invented the modern way of making chocolate, it is no surprise that they train the best chocolatiers in the world.
Many chocolatiers have moved from regions like France and Switzerland to expand their business to the United States. In New York City alone, there are top-notch chocolatiers from these regions and more that make their confections available to the lucky citizens. Right on Madison Avenue, La Maison du Chocolat (House of Chocolate) hails from France and brings New York one of the most decadent hot chocolate drinks and perfectly made French macarons, which is no easy task. Tache Artisan Chocolate, another French shop, churns out homemade gelato for lucky New Yorkers who love ice cream treats. Mast Brothers Chocolate makes the scene in Brooklyn as well, where fans love their trademark herbal blend chocolate bars and can’t get enough of this highly respected chocolatier. MarieBelle came from Honduras to study fashion but turned her gaze to chocolate and now owns a cacao bar in Brooklyn, where she serves traditional Aztec hot chocolate.
These are just a tiny smattering of some of New York’s finest chocolatiers, whose expertise brings joy and decadence to the world. Go seek them out, you won’t regret it one bit.