Dark chocolate - yeah, it's a tough job
The Inside Scoop: To set the record straight, I did work for this story. Though eating chocolate is pretty much the easiest work there is. Anyway, the Gelateria was awesome. Reminded me so much of Florence, when I was 20 and could eat gelato three times a day without ever thinking twice. (Ah, to be young again.) Cardullo's was really neat. I had no idea so many chocolate bars even existed. My buddy Mark, fresh back from Iraq, downed bakalava with me. Always good to share the sweets. But Laura made out by getting the chocolate lab, which to my knowledge she still hasn't eaten because it's too cute.
By Peter DeMarco
Chocolate is the safest of standbys when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts. But what if, this year, you got Mom dark chocolate? More pure and bitter than milk chocolate, dark chocolate is soaring in popularity based on reports of its positive health effects. (A certain antioxidant in cocoa may help lower blood pressure, studies say.) Found in everything from ice cream to dark chocolate baklava (see below!), dark chocolate’s unique, rich taste stands out no matter where it’s found. But don’t just take our word for it – find out what Mom thinks. Cardullo’s
6 Brattle St.
For a primer on the vast world of dark chocolate I headed to Cardullo’s, home to 1,000 different chocolate bars, the widest selection in the city. “It’s what we’re best known for,” says head buyer Jamie Kubik. I began with Chocolat Bonnat, (cq) an expensive ($7.49) French bar whose high percentage (75 percent) of cocoa yields a nice bitter taste. Next came a rich-smelling Dolfin brand Belgium chocolate bar infused with – surprise - Earl Grey tea. My favorite, however, was the “Black Pearl Bar,” a wild combination of ginger, wasabi, black sesame seed and dark chocolate made by Vosges of Belgium. For those who can’t decide, Kubik designs dark chocolate bar gift baskets with enough variety to suit any mother’s craving. ($50) Gelateria
272 Hanover St
Fashioned after a traditional Italian gelateria, Frank DePasquale’s hip gelato shop is breezy, bright and modern, with video screens on a wall showing clips of gelato being made. Glass counter cases are filled with a rainbow of varieties – 50 in all - including cioccolato, a pure dark-chocolate creation, and bacio, a yummy, slightly crunchy hazelnut and dark chocolate mixture. “Our gelatos have between 3 and 6 percent butterfat,” says head gelato maker Giovanni Gagliotta. “We make them without eggs. No heavy cream. No butter. They’re not like ice cream. They’re much lighter.” Try three flavors for $3.75, or, for an extra dollar, have your gelato served Sicilian style in a brioche bun. Café Nation
380 Washington St.
I love watching crepes being made, so I hovered near the counter at Café Nation as my server ladled three scoops of Ghirardelli dark chocolate bits onto the batter and scattered sliced strawberries on top. “It’s very simple,” says co-owner Alvin Tsang about his popular dark chocolate and fresh strawberry crepe. “Just the two flavors melted together.” Café Nation serves a host of crepes for breakfast, lunch and snacking, with ingredients ranging from crab to California barbeque chicken to, of course, dark chocolate. Chocoholics on the run can also grab an iced mint chip latte, iced mocha or iced black and white mocha, all made with a Ghirardelli dark chocolate sauce.
Beacon Hill Chocolates
92 B Pinkney St.
If chocolate makes you smile, wait until you see Beacon Hill Chocolates’ dark chocolate lab truffles. Shaped like tiny Labrador puppies, they have ears and tails made of almonds and miniature chocolate snouts and feet. They are, in my girlfriend’s estimation, “the cutest things ever.” Paula Barth opened her old-world-style chocolate shop on the corner of Charles Street just last month. She’s already built a following with her high-end imports, which include both fun shapes (dogs, cats, dominos, ice cream cones) and catchy flavors (chili pepper, champagne, peanut butter) from Belgium and Oregon chocolatiers. Individual pieces are $2.25 to $2.75, or by the pound for $49.95.
Athan's European Bakery
1621 Beacon St.
Athan's European Bakery
407 Washington St.
I almost can’t recall all of Athan’s dark chocolate offerings, from cookies to gelato to dark chocolate-covered candied figs to homemade Jamaica dark chocolate sponge cake layered with sweet dark cherries. But the bakery’s dark chocolate baklava had to be my favorite. Made the traditional way with buttered filo dough and syrup, each piece is rolled into a cigar-size tube with a strip of melted Belgium Callebaut dark chocolate in the center. Do I really need to tell you how good it is? No mother should have to settle for one heavenly vice when she can have two in every bite. ($9 a pound, or about 80 cents per piece.) The Independent
75 Union Square
Head chef Paul Oberhauser keeps a bar of super fine dark chocolate in the kitchen just for himself, so his desserts are bound to be dark chocolate extravaganzas. “Dark chocolate adds more of a purity to the flavor,” says Oberhauser, an admitted addict. “When you start with a more pure chocolate, you have more control with your food.” His Callebaut dark chocolate pudding cup, topped with a spoonful of creamy dolce con leche and served with a butter cookie (his grandmother’s recipe) will arguably satisfy Mom’s most dire dark chocolate craving. She’ll be surprised at how sweet it tastes, too. Oberhauser’s flourless chocolate raspberry torte, meanwhile, makes a fine backup choice. ($7 each)