Last Wednesday night we joined over 100 vendors and 3000 people at Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle to celebrate The Best of Westchester. This is Westchester Magazine’s annual event featuring all the shops and restaurants and businesses voted by either the editors or the readers as being the best in in the county. We brought thousands of pieces of chocolate with us to give out as samples and the most popular were the chocolate covered potato chips. We made a fun tropical display paying homage to the origins of the cacao.
This was our 4th year at the show. We previously won for Best Truffle in Westchester and Best Place to Spend a Friday Afternoon with Kids. These past two years we were voted best chocolate shop in Westchester by the readers which means our wonderful customers actually took the time to go online and vote for us. That is so awesome! So this blog post is just about saying thank you to all of our loyal customers, especially those who voted for us. It is also an invitation to anyone out there who has never been here to come see why we were voted the best.
To me, this is summer. I grew up in Eastchester, N.Y. One of the best things about it was that there was an ice cream opportunity around every corner. We had Schrafts, an old fashiioned Soda Parlor. There was Jahn’s famous for the Kitchen Sink and free sundae’s on your birthday, I always got the Peach Melba. We had Woolworth’s with their huge counter and the balloons filled with prices. If you popped the right balloon you got your banana split for free! There was Bob’s, the local luncheonette, where you could get the little dixie cups filled with half vanilla, half chocolate ice cream with a lift off lid and a wooden spoon. We had Friendly’s where you could get not only a Patty Melt, but all sorts of ice cream concoctions including the amazing Reeses Pieces sundae. It was a 5 scoop masterpiece in a goblet swmming in peanut butter sauce, fudge sauce, marshmallow sauce and topped with Reeses Pieces. This was the only reason I enjoyed exercising at Susan Marlowe’s Fitness Salon…Friendly’s was a short wak away, and our treat for sweatin’ to the oldies…which weren’t oldies yet! There was also the bakery with Italian Ice scooped into a little paper cup. These were all within walking distance to my house. If the 2 or 3 block walk to any of these ice cream meccas was too much, the Good Humor man would come right to our house and 35 cents would get you the most exotic item in the truck!
With all these ice cream memories is there any wonder I have been nuts (no pun intended) about getting just the right ice cream here at Chocolations? I finally have it. After many years of pining for it, I finally am carrying Longford’s Own-Made Ice Cream. It is as rich and creamy as my childhood memories are of my favorite ice cream parlors best flavors. I make probably the best hot fudge sauce you will ever taste right here in the shop. We also have a huge variety of toppings and if there is something you are dreaming about, we probably have it in the shop and can accomodate your sweet dreams. I even found the Reese’s sauce used at Friendly’s if peanut butter is your thing.
So who else has some happy memories of any of these places? I haven’t even mentioned all the other great ice cream places we would drive to. That will be another post for another day. For now, why not celebrate the first day of summer with a scoop or two?
This past weekend Westchester Magazine hosted a Wine and Food Weekend at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, NY . This is our third year participating in the event and each year it gets better and better. If you notice, it is billed as a Wine and Food, not a Food and Wine weekend…for good reason. The wine and spirits are flowing! This is not the wekend to start a diet. There are 25 restaurants on Saturday and a different 25 on Sunday. These are not just any old restaurants, these are the top restaurants in the county. They are the ones you have always wanted to try, but for one reason or another, you just haven’t gotten there. Well, here they are. They are offering you plates of their signature dishes, all presented beautifully, prepared right in front of you.
We have it easy. We have all our chocolate pre-made back at the shop and just need to plate it and wait for patrons to come sample. And sample they did! We estimated that we brought well over 3000 pieces of chocolate and brought not much back with us!
The most popular item on our table was the chocolate covered potato chips. Many were reluctant to try them, but most said, “These are my 2 favorite things in the whole world combined in one.” Some hesitated sampling chocolate before eating “real” food. I reminded them that potatoes are a vegetable and this was really an appetizer. That got most of them to at least try one.
Oh the deception!
How cute are these? A bride and groom asked me to create a unique favor for their wedding. They were having a firepit after the reception, so I thought an upscale S’mores kit would do the trick.
We made special heart shaped pieces of chocolate instead of the traditional candy bar. We added one full graham cracker split in half and a jumbo marshmallow. I remember seeing jumbo marshmallows at a candy show and having to order them from a distributer, now they are ubiquitous!
We put a dot of chocolate to hold the heart onto the marshmallow and voila! A new addition to our wedding favor line-up was born.
Just add a twig and fire!
We recently hosted a pinkalicious tea party at Choclations…hence, Pink-a-lations! We had 2 seatings of excited little girls and their moms and even a few dads. When they first entered in their all pink outfits, (adorable!!!) they started to color a picture provided of the pinkalicious character. We then took their orders for their afternoon tea service.
They were given the choice of fluff and strawberry tea sandwiches or mini ham sandwiches (remember, pink food). They all had mini strawberry scones and for dessert, non pareils with pink sprinkles and chocolate chip cookies with pink sparkles.
As if the pinkness wasn’t enough, even the beverages were pink…pink lemonade, pink iced tea (which is our toasty almond flavor), and pink milk (milk with strawberry syrup).
All decorated a mini cupcake with, what else, pink frosting, pink sprinkles, and raspberries. Allison then sat them all down in a circle and read to them from the Pinkalicious book.
A good time was had by all, and we see a Purplicious, Goldilicious and Silveralicious in our near future.
A picture is worth a thousand words. I am very particular about my Chocolate Covered Strawberries. In fact, you could call me the Strawberry Nazi. I will actually turn down a sale if I think my strawberries are going to be eaten incorrectly. The correct way to eat a chocolate covered strawberry is to eat it the day we dip it. I question, no I interrogate each customer before they order strawberries to make sure they are going to eat it, or the recipient of their gift will eat them the day they are dipped. If not, then no strawberries for you!
Look at the picture on the left. The strawberries were freshly dipped, succulent delectible specimens and the chocolate is crisp and glossy and perfect. The ones on the right were 24 hours old. The stems of the strawberries are no longer bright green, the strawberries are mushy, the chocolate is separating from the berry, and they have started to sweat. Not an attractive quality in a confection. I’m not trying to be mean when I say you cannot have strawberries today if you plan to serve them tomorrow. Just looking out for you. If you have any doubt that I have your best interest at heart, look at the photos above.
Whew! It is hot out there! No better way to beat the heat than with an iced coffee. Only probem is that after a few sips the nice strong coffee taste is gone and what remains is a watered down mess. I will share with you my secret for making a perfect iced coffee.
First start with a good strong coffee. A french roast or a good medium roast like our Sienna Roast from Waterfront Roasters works well. Make yourself a full pot in the morning, have your cup of hot coffee…you know you can’t start your day without it!
Pour half of the remaining coffee into a clean ice cube tray that you will now dedicate solely to making coffee cubes…trust me, you will be doing this a lot! Put the rest of the coffee in the refrig to cool.
Now, wait for the cubes to freeze. (This is the hardest part).
Once frozen, pop out and fill your favorite tall glass with cubes.
Add sweetener and milk or cream to taste.
Finish by filling glass with the cold coffee, stir and enjoy! Of course, if this seems like too much work, just come to Chocolations and we will do it for you!
So what on earth is a Paleo truffe? I know how to make a truffle. In fact, we were awarded the Best Truffle in Wetchester in 2008. But a Paleo truffle? My son presented me with this challenge. He is one of those top physical specimens who does Cross Fit training and is big into the Paleo diet which is the diet the cavemen ate…hence the name Paleo. It consists of meat, no sugar (what?) no dairy (huh??) no wheat…oh this is too much for me to comprehend. My diet consists of candy, cupcakes and ice cream. The one thing I love more than candy, cupcakes and ice cream is my son, so I decided to give it a go. I took a trip to Trader Joes and plunked down what used to be a car payment (healthy don’t come cheap) on raw honey, coconut oil, coconut milk and raw almonds. Of course I already had 100% cacao in my shop, so I was ready to experiment. My chocolatier, (we call her Little Maria) and I set out to make a ganache that could be rolled in nuts and later, one rolled in unsweetened coconut.
The result was a ganache with an excellent consistency and mouth feel and deep rich chocolate flavor with a hint of coconut that we feel will be a hit with the healthy crowd!
What is it about women and shoes? Why do we love them so? They can transport us home like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, or bring Prince Charming to his knees like the glass ones did for Cinderella. In our store, nothing earns as many oohs and ahhs as our chocolate shoes. They are about the same as a women’s size 6 narrow, made of solid milk, dark or white chocolate and decorated whatever crazy way I feel that day. My favorites are the ruby reds shown below, but we have been known to embellish with all black sprinkles for a black patent leather look, or paint on designs for a real custom shoe. I will even paint the bottoms red for a Louboutin effect.
A dear friend of mine and I went shoe shopping last night. It was a spur of the moment thing, tremendously fun, and it got me thinking what a great girlfriend bonding experience shoe shopping is. It is also the quickest pick-me-up, and wardrobe enhancer at not so steep a price…especially if you are like us and shop for sales and bargains. It must be this type of pleasant experience that is brought to mind when a woman comes in and sees one of our chocolate shoes. They get almost giddy.
I am amazed at how many shoe themed bridal shower favors we have been asked to do over the years. I usually ask when coming up with a favor idea, “what is your daughter into?” The answer most times is “shoes” Next time you are looking for a fun and unque gift for the shoe freak in your life, why not a chocolate shoe? Trust me, it will always be the right size!