All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.Charles M. Schulz, Cartoonist
National Chocolate Day is October 28.
Chocolate can lower stress, increase cognitive performance, and soothe mental fatigue. Dark chocolate can help us lose weight. Really? Eat a little dark chocolate before a large meal, creating a 17 percent lower calorie intake — it’s all about the chocolate and sugar. Chocolate can help your heart. According to the American Heart Association, combining dark chocolate, cocoa, and almonds can significantly lower the number of low-density lipoproteins or LDL (the bad cholesterol) particles in the blood. So, bring on the chocolate!
During my travels, I always seek out local chocolate enterprises. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and greater Texas have a surprisingly large number of decadent chocolate shops headed up by well-known chocolatiers with inspiring stories about how they got there. Here are nine of my favorites in no particular order.
1. Kate Weiser Chocolates, Dallas/Fort Worth
Chocolatier: Kate Weiser
After graduating from the San Francisco California Culinary Institute in 2005, working in various restaurants, and as an executive pastry chef at Stephen Pyles’ Nobu, Kate honed her chocolate skills. After four years of perfecting her chocolate craft, Kate created Kate Weiser Chocolates at Trinity Groves in Dallas, August 2014.
Kate created her hand-painted chocolate collection to resemble jewels in flavors of cherry almond, mango habanero, and strawberry basil, quickly gaining attention and excitement. She partnered with Neiman Marcus nationwide and made the coveted Oprah’s Favorite Things List for 2018 with “Carl,” a hot chocolate snowman. She was named Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America by Dessert Professional magazine in 2014 and continues to push boundaries and make the most delectable chocolate ever. She has two more locations, North Park Center, Dallas, and Fort Worth’s The Shops at Clearfork.
2. Chocolate Secrets, Dallas
Chocolatier: Rocio Estrada, Master Chocolatier, Pam G. Eudaric, Founder and CEO
The chocolates at Chocolate Secrets harmonize chocolate, artistry, tradition, and innovation, individually handcrafted with organic, natural, and premium ingredients. You’ll find handcrafted bonbons and barrel-aged whiskey, tequila, rum, Grand Marnier handmade bonbons. Select Cocoa Couture like hand-formed high heels, cameos, cowboy boots or hats, state of Texas, chocolate footballs, or a trophy. Indulge in chocolate bars, chocolate-covered fruits, nuts, large peanut butter cups, or custom chocolate logos.
Attend a wine and chocolate pairing, afternoon tea, live jazz evening, lunch or dinner, literature night, or open mic. Established in 2003, Chocolate Secrets is a gourmet chocolate and fine wine experience. The culinary experience in the kitchen, totaling more than 150 years, handcrafts over 52 flavors of truffles and chocolate bonbons, more than 25 flavors of macarons, 25 different pastries, and over 15 sorbet and ice cream flavors.
3. Dude Sweet Chocolate, Dallas
Chocolatier: Katherine Clapner
Katherine Clapner at Dude Sweet Chocolate creates nut bars like Crack In a Box, creative praline bars, Pebbles Chai Bar, Pony Boy, Toga Bar, and Chicken on the Move. Truffles and fudges are ganaches rolled in a thin shell of chocolate, like When Pigs Fly Fudge, Flower Child Truffle, Hanoi Fudge, or Stephan’s Pile. Soft butter toffees, made with cane sugar, French butter, and chocolate, are cut into big cubes and rolled in South American dark chocolate like Black MMMmole Toffee and Tangerine Man Chocolate Toffee.
Have you noticed the creative names? Katherine makes chocolate sauces and potions blended with spirits or wine with agave and chocolate, which are great added to coffee or spread on an apple slice. Fun gifts and seasonal items are Katherine’s Bucket of Favorites, Chocolate Salami, or her Monthly Subscription. Specialized shipping is available even in the summer with ice packs in Styrofoam boxes.
4. Dr. Sue’s Chocolate, Grapevine
Chocolatier: Dr. Sue
A practicing physician with a mission to create healthy all-natural dark chocolate, Dr. Sue’s Chocolate creates richly decadent premium quality confections with all-natural ingredients without preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. You can feel good about eating any chocolate here, plus she plays an active role in the community, gives to numerous charities, and emphasizes wellness education. You can get 54 percent Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate chips for your home baking or Venezuelan dark single Araguani chocolate bars with flavors of currants, chestnuts, and honey.
Choose nut assortment chocolate bark, fruit mix, or fruit and nut mix, blueberry ancho chili, or the holiday assortment of peppermint, cranberry orange, or ginger pumpkin spice by the pound box. My favorite Campfire Bark is made with the ingredients of s’mores, dark Belgian chocolate, house-made marshmallows, organic crackers, and smoked sea salt, or try the toasted almond bark with smoked sea salt. Yum!
5. CocoAndre Chocolatier And Horchateria, Dallas
Chocolatier: Andrea Pedraza
Handcrafted truffles in gourmet flavors, custom-made confections like high heels and cowboy boots, and unique occasion gifts made by this mother-daughter duo started 11 years ago as CocoAndre in a shop in Oak Cliff. Andrea and Cindy, two Mexican-American-Texan mothers, are proud of the business they built, representing their culture and heritage, after the start-up with less than $1000 between them. Andrea’s experience goes back to a 25-year career as a master chocolatier and head of production for one of the first chocolate shops in Dallas. Cindy is a single mother with construction experience, plus budgets and managing people. With these talents, the team combined their skills and opened their chocolate shop.
In addition to gourmet chocolates, they make mezcal chocolate, mocha-chai latte, vegan dark chocolate, horchata, and their latest chocolate skulls, Dia de Los Muertos Calaveras, honoring Day of the Dead. These are available soon in 10 central markets across Texas, saluting Hispanic Heritage Month.
6. Isabelly’s Chocolates And Sweet Treats, Richardson
Chocolatier: Isabell Albert
Founded in 2010, Isabelly’s Chocolates and Sweet Treats started in the Dallas Market Center, quickly winning awards for Best Chocolate Candy with her Mexican Chocolate Cake Truffle and a second award for her Strawberry Cake Truffle. Opening her storefront on Main Street in Richardson, she quickly was recognized for Dallas’s Best Cake Balls and Best Dessert in Richardson. She specializes in unique handmade fine Belgium chocolates, cake balls, handmade French macarons, and brownie truffles. In 2016, Isabell added handmade, small-batch gelatos, sorbets, and ice creams. Fall treats to order are the Halloween Truffle Gift Box, Cookie Box, or Oreo Pops.
7. Sablon Chocolate Lounge, Dallas
Sablon is North America’s first premium dining lounge featuring excellent quality chocolate desserts, drinks, and small bites, all made to order from the highest quality Belgium and Italian chocolate. In addition to chocolate truffles and bonbons, download an extensive 18-page menu with decadent chocolate dishes like tiramisu or hot hazelnut chocolates, Belgian frappes, crème Brulee, or mocha frappe. Indulge in a mint Chocotail: vanilla ice-cream, mint, topped with dark chocolate sauce in a chocolate-dipped jar, or versions of tiramisu, hazelnut, or caramel.
Taste a hazelnut frappista, roasted coffee, vanilla ice cream, Nutella, topped with whipped cream, and a chocolate donut in a chocolate-dipped jar. Order a brownie or waffle shake or a Black Forest Grand Chocoshake. Savor the chocolate fondues with fruit for dipping. Sample sweet crepes like peanut butter and banana, or indulge in Chocopizzas, or a Chocolate Avalanche, a richly indulgent chocolate sundae.
8. Wiseman House Chocolates, Hico
Chocolatier: Kevin Wenzel
Studying fine arts in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and chocolate making at a fifth-generation Pennsylvania chocolate school, Kevin Wenzel, opened the doors of Wiseman House Chocolates in 1996 in Hico. The town is south of Fort Worth, and the shop location is in a Victorian house a couple of blocks over from where my grandfather lived. Kevin blends actual Belgium and Venezuelan chocolate with fresh whipping cream, chopped nuts, fruits, crushed coffee beans, and liqueurs for the finest tasting chocolate meant to take you back to the ancient Mayans. It’s more about what he leaves out, like trans fats, sodium nitrates, glutens, and added sugars. Chocolate-making classes are also available.
I love chocolate covered almonds or pecans. You can’t miss the barrel-aged bourbon caramels, chocolate almond bark, pecan caramel clusters, dark mint bites, or mocha crunch. Try the TX Whiskey Truffle, Wild Woman Truffles, and gift box sets.
9. Chocolat (Quintessential Chocolates), Fredericksburg
Chocolatier: Lecia Duke, Chocolate Diva
The tantalizing aromas of chocolates captivate your senses, and the chocolates on display are a feast for your eyes, made by Lecia Duke since 1984. Lecia makes more than 300 flavors with the perfected zuckerkrust chocolate shell, refining the art of capturing a liqueur center inside delectable chocolate. Located on Main Street in Fredericksburg, Chocolat is next door to the Fredericksburg Winery. Enjoy the quintessential truffles, spirit-filled chocolates, colettes, barks, caramels, silk fudges, and nut clusters. You can’t resist one of each!
Pro Tip: Explore these incredible chocolate shops online for irresistible chocolates that come shipped to your home.
Many destinations have some quality chocolatiers offering their treats to travelers: