I've invited my friend David, a connoisseur of fine chocolate, to share his extensive knowledge of boutique chocolatiers in the Philadelphia area.
Boutique Chocolate in the Philadelphia area
By David Bruce Duncan
Chocoholics unite. There are mounds of confectionery chocolates to be discovered and conquered and millions of Americans willing to take on the challenge. So it begins, my personal “holy grail” quest for the best of the best chocolates, recognizing that we each have a varying taste palette that will take us to many different delights and conclusions.Pennsylvania has a distinguished history of making chocolate. At the turn of the 19th century, Hershey produced the first “candy bar” for Americans. Early in the 20th century, Asher’s Chocolates in Germantown developed a variety of chocolate candy treats. The Whitman’s Sampler (started by Stephen F. Whitman on Market St.in Philadelphia in 1942) gained its reputation with a map identifying each different piece.Market St.in Philadelphia in 1942) gained its reputation with a map identifying each different piece.
So now we come specifically to the Philadelphia area's handmade gourmet chocolates.
Aux Petits Delices
One of America’s premier French chocolatiers and Master pastry chef Patrick Gauphron came to the US in 1978 to work as a pastry chef at Le Bec Fin. He opened his own shop, Aux Petits Delices in Wayne in 1986 and dazzled Philadelphians with his extraordinary European style of making chocolates, desserts and pastries. He is known for pushing the envelope with intense yet delicate flavorings such as his new Basque pimento chocolate. Other noteworthy creations are his raspberry ganache in white chocolate and key lime ganache center. A trip to his shop is reminiscent of the finest rue St. Honoré and Place de la Madelaine confectionery boutiques.
John & Kira’s
John & Kira’s are my personal stars. Each taste sensation is silky smooth and the flavors are sublime. The mint is the perfect blend of the finest chocolate taste, with a light natural mint leaf aroma. The strawberry is not so much like adding strawberry jam but rather fresh picked fraises des bois in a pairing with incredible rich chocolate. All work is hand made, piece by piece. They employ colored cocoa butter in the design of fantastic hand painted bees filled with caramel and ladybugs filled with ganache centers.
A burly, aproned chocolatier working both the front and the back of the shop, Christopher Curtain in West Chester is the personification of how a chocolatier should appear. He’s always searching for new distinct and intense flavors. The day I was in the shop there were three tasting dishes of flat chocolates with roasted corn, Aztec chili and another with pretzels. His liquid caramels are incredible. The anise and strawberry lingered on the palate.
Antoine Amrani Chocolates
Antoine Amrani runs a small factory-shop in East Norriton. He uses Weiss chocolate, rarely used outside of France, as the base for his creations, and designs his own molds so that the resulting chocolates are jewel-like works of art. Antoine offers wine pairing and dessert making classes on the premises.
Jagielky’s Homemade Candies
This third generation “Mom and Pop” store that started on North 5th Streetin Philadelphia now has shops in both Ventnor and Margate. Their Rocky Road, almond butter crunch and turtles are over-the-top in both quality and taste.North 5th Streetin Philadelphia now has shops in both Ventnor and Margate. Their Rocky Road, almond butter crunch and turtles are over-the-top in both quality and taste.
So there you have it, plenty of information to renew your own personal quest for the “holy grail” of chocolates. Commencez, s'il vous plâit.