A View of Two Neighborhood Chocolate Shops

-By Alexandra Leaf

I came to chocolate relatively late in life; at age 24, to be precise, when Valrhona Chocolate began to export to the United States in the mid-1980s. Pastry chefs everywhere clamored for the high-quality French base chocolate (also known as couverture). I discovered it in Gotham Bar and Grill’s signature dark chocolate cake. True, I’d had some version of dark chocolate as a child, in Bosco and in Nonpareils, but this was dark chocolate of a very distinct sort—it was stormy and so full-flavored. Flash forward to the present, when quality dark and milk chocolate can be had in so many wonderful shapes and forms, right here in Greenwich Village, at Li-Lac Chocolates and See’s Candies.

George celebrates his 95th birthday with chocolate champagne from Li-Lac Chocolates . Photo Dusty Berke

Some of us will remember when Li-Lac was a small chocolaterie on the south side of Christopher Street. By some miracle, that oldie and goodie that opened its doors for business in 1923 not only survives today, but is thriving in six locations throughout the city. (Production takes place at their factory in Industry City, where curious customers can look through plate glass walls.) “We took Li-Lac from a mom-and-pop store in the Village to a NYC chocolate brand in key tourist and commuter locations,” explains company president and co-owner Anthony Cirone. For those seeking a rich and satisfying hot chocolate experience, the Chelsea Market and Greenwich Avenue locations serve up a hearty cup. And should you be looking for that perfect holiday gift for a chocophilic friend or loved one, Li-Lac Chocolate of the Month Club is a sweet idea. As the company readies to commemorate its 100th anniversary, you’ll want to keep an eye out for ways to help celebrate the milestone.

See’s Candies on West 8th Street is an oldie and goodie that comes to Greenwich Village by way of California. (And interestingly, the founder of the iconic American company, Mary See, was actually Canadian.) See’s is big on sweet nostalgia, from the company’s classic branding/packaging that has not changed in almost one hundred years to recipes for many of the selections, including peanut brittle, that are original to Mary See’s era. “I really wanted to bring See’s Candies, the greatest West Coast Chocolate Company, to the Village,” explains Bill Rhodes, the store’s operator. “See’s combines an exceptional service experience with an exceptional product. We fly in fresh chocolates on a weekly basis.” If you haven’t yet discovered the pleasures of See’s Candies, now is the perfect time to stop in for holiday shopping à go-go.

Hot Chocolate Your Way

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of milk (whole, 2%, oat, nut etc., your choice)
  • a couple of squares of dark chocolate, chopped (Green and Black’s, Alter Eco, Lindt, Valrhona, Trader Joe’s)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

Equipment

  • a sturdy pot for heating the milk 
  • a whisk

Over a medium flame, heat the milk and add the chopped chocolate pieces. Whisk gently to help the chocolate melt and become well incorporated into the milk. Enjoy!  

 

 

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