Let’s be honest: every Halloween, I’m still a little sad I can’t go trick-or-treating. There’s nothing like it as an adult. Or so I thought until last week, when I went on a Brooklyn Chocolate Tour. I’m not making this up!
For four hours, I joined a group of tourists from places like Arkansas and Brazil, learned a thing or 20 from charming, Brooklyn-born tour guide, and stuffed my face with incredible chocolate. No big kids threw eggs at us. I didn’t have to wear a weather-appropriate costume. The places we visited would never dream of passing out boxes of raisins. Maybe this is better than trick-or-treating!
We met the bus for our Brooklyn tour in Manhattan. Some how Tony, our tour guide and the company founder, made the ride seem like the first stop of the tour. I love trying to see this city with tourist-level excitement. I sat snapping at the window, along with a mother and daughter visiting from Amsterdam. Tony is a great story teller. He pours a lot of facts on you, but always managed to be engaging. It’s much sweeter than a Chocolate Lecture but you still learn a surprising amount.
First stop on the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour: Jacques Torres in DUMBO
Jacques Torres was the renown french pastry chef for years and this chocolate shop down under the Manhattan Bridge (DUMBO) was his fulfillment of the American Dream. He’s since opened many others and garnered the name “Mr. Chocolate”. But we went to the one that started it all in 2000.
If I ever become a millionaire, I’ll be the house that hands out giant chocolate pumpkins. Mark my words.
The Jacques Torres shop felt so festive for fall: all oranges and yellows and greens, like the changing leaves. Turns out this is the color scheme year round, harkening to the colors of cocoa beans.
Here are our treats! The samples we got to try! I think Jacque may be on a mission to redeem white chocolate, making it from actual cocoa butter instead of the artificial waxy crap of lesser chocolates. We sampled pure white chocolate followed by delicious white chocolate bon bons, covered in sugar with a macadamia nut in the center. The combination of textures- smooth and crunchy- was tres bien. Last but not least, we tried chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from their New York Cliché line. That’s just my name for it, but it fits as each box features an NYC icon: a yellow cab, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Hey Monsieur Torres, wanna partner with my blog?
Second stop on the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour: The Chocolate Room in Cobble Hill
The Chocolate Room is the passion/brain child of two wonderful people are easily NYC’s biggest dessert power couple.Jon Payson and Naomi Josepher greeted us the minute we walked in the door of their dessert cafe in Cobble Hill.
They have a passion for chocolate and for people: you feel this throughout their shop and taste it in all their desserts. Their chocolate cake? Fuhgettaboudit. Oprah loves this chocolate cake. It’s that good. It’s their signature dessert and I can say without question, it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. We sampled little cupcake versions, made especially for this tour.
We also sampled their decadent hot chocolate, cozy and sweet just like the atmosphere of the place, even in the middle of the day. This was my favorite spot on the tour and I can’t wait to come back. Perfect for a date or a low key girl’s night, I highly recommend it!
We got back on out tour bus and headed to Red Hook.
I couldn’t believe we were going to Red Hook! This part of Brooklyn is notoriously hard to get to, buy perfectly accessed by private tour bus. We did some sightseeing in a part of NYC tourists (and many locals!) NEVER go.
Statue of Liberty on the left, One World Trade and downtown Manhattan on the right. Nice view!
Third stop on the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour: Raaka Chocolate factory in Red Hook
A Slice of Brooklyn is the golden ticket for Raaka and the Chocolate Factory! Raaka Chocolate is very Brooklyn, setting itself apart by making sustainability and social responsibility as much of a priority as taste.
We all had to put on hairnets, so you know this tour was serious!
It was fun to learn about exactly wear their chocolate comes from and how it goes from beans in a pod to bars wrapped in paper (recycled paper, of course!) Unlike almost every other chocolate company out there, Raaka makes their bars with unroasted cacao beans. This better preserves the authentic flavor of the chocolate. SO BROOKLYN, right? This borough is very much about preserving authentic people and flavors.
I wondered if chocolate made with unroasted beans might taste weird: uncooked or beany or something. Nope! It’s delicious: rich, dark, and creamy. It makes you want to poo-poo any Hershey bar, feeling more substantial and of the earth, I’d say. This isn’t a taste that’s just manufactured in a factory. It’s easy to savor every bite. We tried a three dark chocolates, all with different cacao percentages, and one milk chocolate. Mint, sea salt, and coconut flavors added a little extra but the virgin chocolate is always the focus.
Also cool to see hundreds, and hundreds of bars of chocolate and the people who work hard to make them. No oompa-loompas here.
Final stop on the Brooklyn Chocolate Tour: Li-Lac Chocolates in Industry City
Last stop was to New York City’s FIRST chocolatier, Li-Lac Chocolates. They’ve been making tasty treats for almost a century.
By this point of the tour it felt like the end of Halloween night as a kid: the sugar crash. Fortunately Li-Lac’s amazing chocolate moldings woke us up!
Our tour guid Tony says the best way to judge chocolate is with the basics. Here we sampled classic chocolate and almond bars. So creamy I was tempted to eat the whole sample despite extreme fullness! The simple milk and dark chocolate truffle was stellar as well.
After that, I thanked Tony for the incredible tour- it was really better than anything I’d imagined- and ditched the bus ride back to take the subway instead. Sure, the tour was on the touristy side, but I learned so much about Brooklyn! And chocolate! It’s the absolute perfect tour if you’re a local who’s showing out-of-town friend the city. Or if you’re the kind of adventurous, fun tourist New Yorkers love (like my friend Glyn is)!
Don’t like sweets? A Slice of Brooklyn has a Pizza Tour (much more of a New York Cliché, you know). Visiting NYC for Christmas? The Christmas Lights Tour looks AMAZING. No surprise it always sells out! Dyker Heights is famous for being the one New York neighborhood that goes ALL OUT for the holidays. I’ve always wanted to go. But it’s hard to get to….and far away….and cold…and thus PERFECT to see from the warmth and comfort of a bus! With Tony giving you the inside scoop!