3 Outstanding Seattle Artisan Chocolate Adventures For Chocolate Lovers
If you love chocolate and live in or are visiting Seattle, the city offers many options to indulge in artisan and craft chocolate. I’ve explored some of the Seattle artisan chocolate scene by taking part in two tours and one in-store class. Here’s my report on the yummy fun!
Chocolate Indulgence Tour
Our adventure started at Cupcake Royale on E. Pine Street near the Pike Place Market. Our first taste was a mini Triple Threat Chocolate cupcake — chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream frosting, chocolate shavings. It has been voted Seattle’s favorite cupcake. Then came a sampling of the chocolate ice cream made in store. It was a creamy, deep chocolate by which most chocolate ice creams pale in comparison.
Next door, at The Chocolate Box, we received a short lesson about how cacao beans are grown. We tasted a 55% stone ground chocolate from Taza and a Forte lemon pepper white chocolate.
About a five-minute walk took us to the Dahlia Bakery, where we tasted the most chocolatey chocolate cookie I’ve ever had and a triple coconut cream pie topped with white chocolate.
Then we headed to the Pike Place Market to The Confectional. The Columbian hot chocolate is a deep drinking chocolate with hints of cinnamon and clove. The cheesecake samples, both the milk chocolate and dark chocolate, were creamy and delicious. About this time, some people began reaching chocolate overload and pocketing their samples for later eating.
Still at the Pike Place Market, we tasted cacao nibs and a chocolate-covered cherry at indi Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate shop. We also sampled (not ate) a chocolate hand lotion. indi Chocolate is a small-batch artisan handcrafted bean-to-bar chocolate maker that also makes and sells chocolate lotions, lip balms, chocolate chai tea, and more.
The final stop was Fran’s Chocolate, a couple of blocks south of Pike Place. Fran Bigelow is a chocolate legend in Seattle. She opened her first store in 1982, having experimented with chocolate recipes since a 1970 visit to a Chocolate Salon in Paris. She was the first American to convince the French chocolate-maker Valrhona to sell the company’s chocolate in the United States. Fran’s dark chocolate truffles (yes, we tasted one) are covered with a 64% chocolate Valrhona blend she developed with the company.
For more information: Savor Tours
Chocolate! Wonderful Chocolate
This two-hour in-store chocolate experience at the Chocolate Box started with a taste of hot drinking chocolate from Chocolat Vitale. Then the presenter talked for about 30 minutes, describing how chocolate is made and how to tell the difference between cheap chocolate and quality chocolate.
We next tasted cacao nibs and five different 70% chocolates, discussing how different roasting and conching times affect the texture and taste of the chocolate.
We each then made our own chocolate bar by adding our choice of nuts, fruits, and other items to a couple of ounces of melted chocolate in a mold. While the bars set, we tempered chocolate using our hands and then used it to cover several items, including a strawberry and marshmallow. The bar and covered items went into a bag to take home. We finished with a taste of Gusto Lemon Pepper in White Chocolate from Forte Artisan Chocolates.
Chocolate Box, located at 106 Pine Street, Seattle, Washington 98101, also offers a Wine & Chocolate Experience, a Truffle Making Experience, and Chocolate, Wine & Sex Tips!
Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
Theo Chocolate, located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, was the first bean-to-bar chocolate company in the U.S. when it opened in 2005. Bags of cacao beans arrive in the factory and leave as delicious chocolate. This one-hour tour started with a description of how the beans make their way from the farm to the factory. The tour guide’s description was interspersed with tastes of four different Theo chocolate bars.
Then we headed into the factory viewing room, where the guide described the steps and equipment that cacao beans go through in the process of becoming chocolate. A short walk across the factory floor brought us to the confectionery kitchen, where chocolatiers make ganache and chocolate confections. We tasted a chocolate ganache and a caramel ganache.
Another short walk through the factory brought us to the end of the tour and the Theo retail chocolate store.
Other Theo factory offerings include a Chocolate Story Time for children ages 4 to 7 (children under age 6 aren’t allowed on the factory tour) and a Kid’s Ganache and Chocolate Bark Class. You can also attend a Guided Chocolate and Coffee Pairing, a Molded Ganache Class, or a class to make Hand-Rolled Ganache Truffles.
More information: Theo Chocolate Tour
If you want to find bean-to-bar chocolate in the U.S., get my list of 183 bean-to-bar companies.
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(Photos: Carol Wiley)