Monday, February 11, 2013
Favorite chocolate shops in DFW for a sweet bite
We're trying to make Valentine's Day easy.
With Valentine’s Day comes the perennial question: How do you make this year especially special for your sweetheart? A box of chocolates is always nice. How about giving handmade, decadent chocolates of all shapes, sizes, flavors and textures? In fact, why not consider a whole gourmet experience — a chocolate escape you can enjoy together?
You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to be in chocolate heaven. Dallas by Chocolate offers tours that’ll introduce you to some of the finest in the area.
“A chocolate tour gives you lots of happy memories,” says owner Jeanine Stevens. “It’s a way you can enjoy Valentine’s Day to the hilt.”
The three-hour excursion by private bus will take you to at least four shops to sample raw chocolate, confections, cakes, pastries and sometimes pies, ice cream, and gelato. No two tours are the same, and some combine chocolate tastings with wine or cheese. Prices start at $30 per person (plus tax and gratuity), which includes transportation to and from each tour location, wine or water to sip between stops, and lots of samples. Word to the wise: Book your reservation early, as weekend slots fill up in a hurry.
Then show up hungry, lean back in your seat and enjoy.
Stevens leads the tours, offering chocolate-related factoids, including a little history and trivia for prizes, during the bus ride. Steven Doyle, food writer and editor for cravedfw.com, is also a guide and has been an active part of the company since the get-go, providing additional commentary about area restaurants and landmarks viewed in passing. It’s a unique way to sightsee in Dallas.
“We showcase local places,” says Stevens, whose tour business took off about a year ago. She chooses from approximately 25 locations within Dallas and several surrounding suburbs for the tours.
“I love to try new foods and explore new places,” she says.
Here are some of her favorite venues, which are often combined into a single tour:
Dude, Sweet Chocolate in the Bishop Arts District, Dallas: “Very eclectic, very fun,” says Stevens. Owner Katherine Clapner adds a variety of ingredients to her all-dark chocolate confections, such as dehydrated blue cheese, porcini mushrooms, eucalyptus, and apple butter.
Sublime Chocolate in Allen: This stop includes a peek behind the counter to see how the machines work, where it’s “pure chocolate bliss,” Stevens says. “They make irresistible hand-painted chocolates.”
All of Sublime’s chocolates are gluten-free. Offerings include a variety of drinks, such as white, milk, and dark sipping chocolate; Mexican hot chocolate; and frozen hot chocolate.
Polk-A-Dot Bakery in Addison: Get your pastry fix at this store, which models itself after a small-town bakery. Its assortment of freshly baked cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, pies, tarts, and other pastries varies each day. According to Stevens, Polk-A-Dot “pushes the envelope” with its unique offerings, such as its wine gelatin shots.
Elegantly Chocolate in Carrollton: "Exquisite" is the word Stevens uses to describe the artisan chocolates here.
The confectionary provides chocolates for Neiman Marcus and Dr. Delphinium. Among Stevens’ favorites are the white chocolate butterflies filled with either a tart raspberry or Key lime crème. The packaging is as elegant as the chocolates themselves.
Empire Baking Co. in Dallas: “We often enjoy a variety of their breads and cookies with their dark chocolate sea-salt sauce,” Stevens says of this family-owned and -operated Dallas bakery that specializes in European-style natural breads, pastries, cookies, sandwiches, and salads made from scratch.
Chocolate Secrets in Oak Lawn, Dallas: “It’s almost like a little oasis where you can go and sit and immerse yourself in chocolate,” Stevens says. Its “cocoa couture” made with organic cream comes in “all different shapes,” and “each one is a work of art.” In addition to its specialty truffles and hand-painted bonbons, the store serves a variety of desserts, ice creams, sherbets and sorbets, wine, and more.
Cocoandré Chocolatier near the Bishop Arts District, Dallas: Owner Andrea Padraza and her team create “wonderful truffles with ingredients like raspberry lavender, tequila, ginger, and dulce de leche,” says Stevens. They make chocolate from molds based on high-heel designer pumps, she says, and specialty molds can be custom-ordered, according to the business’s website.
If chocolate’s not your thing, Dallas by Chocolate also offers foodie tours under its Dallas Bites umbrella, where you can try some of our city’s best barbecue, hamburgers and margaritas; visit ethnic-food markets; and take a Bishop Arts District Walking Food Tour. “There’s even a bacon tour,” Stevens says.
“On a tour, you get so many different chocolate experiences in all its many forms,” Stevens says. “It’s a wonderful gift to yourself as well as for someone you love.”
Contact Jeanine Stevens by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 972-442-6963. For more information, visit dallasbychocolate.com.
Ellen Ritscher Sackett is a Dallas-area freelance writer.