I have to admit that because the winters are so cold over here, I have become a chocoholic. Maybe it's the lure of the rich, warm chocalatey colors and delicious textures, or the comfort factor of hot, thick, milk-laden cocoa sliding down your throat and warming every inch of your body. Whatever the reason, I find myself drawn to any store or cafe that can feed my obsession.
I have recently come across a little gem in Williamsburg; Mast Brothers Chocolate. It certainly isn't a secret - google it and you get pages of mentions - but it is a heart warming story in this age of big chocolate corporations being swallowed up by even bigger food corporations.
The Mast Bros came up with the idea of starting an artisan chocolate business in Brooklyn when they were experimenting with different recipes in their apartment. Rick Mast had already done a stint with the chocolate maestro Jacque Torres (who also has a divine store in DUMBO), so was no stranger to the complexity of taste and texture in chocolate. Now they are apparently the only "bean-to-bar" chocolate makers in the city. Using cacao beans from small family farms and coops in the Dominican Republic and other South American countries, they create 60 - 81% cacao delicacies in the form of chocolate bits and bars, all in a tiny kitchen behind the store. They add ingredients such as pistachios, sea salt or cranberries, depending on the cacao beans used at the time. This also means that each time you visit the store, the selection is different. And if you are lucky, you can see them sifting through the beans while you are browsing the choices.
Each bar is lovingly wrapped in gold foil and exquisite florentine-style paper, some of which are designed locally.
They are also so keen to remain local, that the sugar they use comes from Domino, once a working factory down the street. Ok, this factory has long been shuttered, but it's a nod to local enterprise and the Domino logo is certainly still a favorite icon of the city.
And whilst on chocolate, I have to mention Chocolate Celeste. Based further afield in Minnesota, I need to show you their most exquisite asia-theme chocolate assortments. They look like beautiful Mah Jong pieces. Not sure they deliver to Oz, but if you have a friend in the US who loves chocolate.......
Images: design files, bobguskind, morale agency, good housekeeping, gothamist