Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chocolee Chocolates

Once again, on my foodie trek through the South End, I stopped to eat. This time, my destination was Chocolee Chocolates, a new chocolate store that has been open for less than four months. The store is located on Pembroke Street, very near the intersection with Tremont Street.

The store owner and chocolate maker is Lee Napoli, who has worked at or consulted for many local restaurants over the past 10 years including Icarus, Maison Robert, Grill 23, Anago, Metro, Bricco, The Buttery and Sandrine’s Bistro. She also established the region’s first and only association for pastry professionals in the 1990s, the Professional Pastry Guild of New England, and still acts as its head. She was at the helm of the store when I stopped by and was very personable. I could see the passion within her and was pleased.

It is a small store with the one display counter that is pictured above. The store specializes in handmade truffles, available by the piece ($2.50). The chocolate truffles come in five signature flavors (espresso, hazelnut, white chocolate pistachio, Moroccan mint and spicy Poblano pepper). Some special truffles may be added at different times. The hazelnut truffle was excellent, with rich flavors and a creamy chocolate. The Poblano also had rich chocolate though the spices were very mild. I was hoping for a bit more kick from the spices.

You can also purchase various chocolates, many filled with a diverse selection of flavors. You might find dark chocolate with salted caramel, dark chocolate with sesame caramel, dark chocolate with bourbon cherry and honey filling, and dark chocolate with coconut, chocolate turtles and more. Chocolates cost $12 for 1/4 of a pound. There are about 10 pieces of chocolate in a 1/4 pound. I bought a selection of different chocolates.

The dark chocolate with salted caramel was probably my favorite, the salt, gooey caramel and chocolate just making a perfect combination. That first bite into the chocolate just blew me away. The dark chocolate with coconut was also very good, with a liquid-like coconut center. The turtles were another winner with a thicker caramel mixed with the rich chocolate flavor. The richness of the chocolate, its bold flavor, made these impressive chocolates. Everyone else who tried the chocolates was similarly impressed.

On Saturdays and Sundays, you can also buy their beignets. For $7, you get three, golf-ball sized beignets that are filled with Callebaut chocolate and Mascarpone cheese. They are fried up as you wait so the interior of the beignet is guaranteed hot and melted. The beignets are decadently delicious. A nice crisp exterior with a rich chocolate center. And you better be careful when biting into them as the melted chocolate may ooze out all over you.

The truffles, chocolates and beignets are pricey. That is certainly the norm now for all of the new boutique bakeries and high-end chocolate shops. The higher price of ingredients lately, such as flour, certainly is fueling some of the high prices. In the end though, we have to determine whether the quality of the product is worth the price. For some places, the prices are too high for what you get. So what about Chocolee Chocolates?

To me, their products are worth the price. These are products that are impressive, as they should be for the price. They are not average quality items. They are chocolates and beignets that make you moan with delight. They have that "wow" factor that elevates them above the ordinary. So I would highly recommend you visit Chocolee.

Chocolee Chocolates
83 Pembroke Street
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-236-0606

ChocoLee Chocolates on Urbanspoon

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