I love chocolate. It seems that you’re either a chocolate person or you’re not. I’m a chocolate person. Are you a chocolate person?
Judging the best chocolatier for Best of the Big A wasn’t a difficult assignment. Although, after tasting chocolates from multiple Atlanta chocolatiers in one sitting, I did feel like a kid who had raided the candy jar and ended up with a tummy ache. Upon making this remark to friends, one laughed and asked me to forgive her for not feeling sorry for me.
In truth, the hardest part of the assignment was choosing a winner. Although usually decisive, in this case I had trouble ranking the shops. I wanted to award a four-way tie for first place. Here’s what I adore about my top four Atlanta chocolatiers.
Located in Inman Park, Cacao is everything you would expect a chocolatier to be. Exuding charm, every detail is carefully considered in this boutique. Seeing women working in the “laboratoire” behind frosted glass doors evokes the sense of a top-secret-Willy-Wonka-esque production.
Using 75% dark chocolate, Cacao’s truffles are about respecting the chocolate. Flavorings are delicate and subtle, never overpowering the flavors of the rich chocolate. My favorites are the truffles that are rolled in toppings — ones without the shell protecting the velvety ganache-like center. Don’t miss the coconut dulce de leche truffle.
Two of my other favorites at Cacao include the domino bar, which is a shortbread cookie layered with house-made marshmallow and caramel and dipped in chocolate, and the Azteca Aphrodisiac sipping chocolate. The latter makes me glad I don’t live nearby — this sipping chocolate with six chiles and spices is more addictive than Starbucks.
11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays (note: Cacao will be open on Valentine’s Day, Monday Feb. 14). 312 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta, 404-221-9090.
Alon’s Bakery has a large selection of chocolates. If I am in the mood for bold flavors in my chocolate, this is one place I’d go. The shell on the truffles here is thinner and softer, making it easier to chomp into the smooth-rich-full-flavored centers. The truffles I most enjoy from Alon’s include the pumpkin pie, port fig, coconut, and a wonderfully surprising Earl Grey.
Dunwoody Location: 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, 678-397-1781. Original Location: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 1394 North Highland Avenue, 404-872-6000.
In an unusual location with limited hours, Sugar-Coated Radical has great appeal on many fronts. From the tiny shop in a
former home to the hand-stitched tags on the brown cardboard boxes, everything is a bit quirky and completely endearing. And that’s before you taste the chocolate.
Shop owner Taria Camerino gives a personal tour of the chocolates and confections. Unlikely fillings and flavorings play nicely with the 70% chocolate. The truffle with olive oil and the stuffed figs with goat’s-milk-brie-ganache are two of the more unusual pairings that really work. This is the place where you will taste the passion of the chocolate-maker.
2-7 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays. 680 Drewry Street, Atlanta, 404-587-4912.
If you don’t have a trip though Cumming planned in the near future, you might want to alter those plans. The Chocolaterie, located at the Avenue Forsyth, is a fun chocolate/gift shop with something for everyone. After tearing myself away from
oogling the extensive fudge selection, I am mesmerized by the truffles.
These chocolates are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen– hand painted with swirls of color and a glossy sheen. The attendant waits patiently while I repeatedly remark how gorgeous they are.
While some are traditional, many of the candies have unique fillings such as the red velvet cake — made with real red velvet cake inside. The Chocolaterie makes all of the ingredients that will go into their bold-flavored chocolates. My favorites include the sea-salt caramel, mint-chip delirium, dark-chocolate delirium, and the rainforest with raw cacao nibs for a nice crunch.
10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 12-6 p.m. Sundays. 410 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, 678-513-2700.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.