Tag Archives: chocolatas

Chocolate in Vancouver: Roundup

There’s a lot of chocolate in Vancouver, and let’s be honest – not all of it is worth checking out. Some of it, however, is drool-inducingly good. Here are some of my favourites:

Thomas Haas

Thomas Haas fruit chocolates

No list would be complete with Thomas Haas, so let’s just get this out of the way. The list of accolades is endless, and he was recently voted one of the top ten chocolatiers in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine. The chocolate is impeccable, the cakes divine, and the pastries couldn’t possibly be made of any more butter than they are. With his new location in Kitsilano, you don’t need to trek all the way to North Vancouver to get your fix. Read my first post about Thomas here.

The fruit chocolates are a layer of fruit-flavoured ganache topped with pate de fruit. As always happens, my favourite (banana) has been discontinued, but the lychee and passionfruit are amazing. The salted caramel pecan is a grown-up version of a Turtle, the ginger confection is rich and spicy, and the Earl Grey is fragrant with bergamot.

Pastry-wise, the double-baked almond croissant is legendary. It’s a croissant filled with almond cream, topped with almond cream, sprinkled with almonds, baked to crispy perfection, and dusted with icing sugar. The pull-apart is chunks of croissant dough mixed with spiced nuts, and the fruit danish is full of fragrant vanilla pastry cream and (sometimes seasonal) fruit.

The pistachio vanilla tart is a favourite, though you can’t go wrong with anything in the case. It’s hard to pick though, since everything looks so damn good. Macaroons used to just be decorations on cakes; now you can get them by the piece. While waiting in line (and you will wait in line), check out the chocolate sculpture(s) on display.

Two locations, both open 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

128-998 Harbourside Drive
North Vancouver, BC
604-924-1847

2539 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
604-736-1848

ChocolaTas

Tucked amid the hustle and bustle of Granville Island Public Market is ChocolaTas, which boasts a pretty impressive line of chocolates. They’re best when consumed fresh, so ask the person behind the counter which ones are newest. I like the tea-flavoured ones myself, though the fresh mint tastes just like summer – even when it’s drizzly, cold and grey outside. Check out my previous reviews of their salted chocolate, dent-du-midi (almond praline), Earl Grey, and four-spice milk chocolate bonbons.

In the past, ChocolaTas has worked with the design students at Emily Carr University to develop custom designs for their chocolates. These limited edition chocolates are stunning, and if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re on display, you’re in for a treat. They’re almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

Open 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

151 – 1669 Johnston Street (inside Granville Island Public Market)
Vancouver, BC

Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France

chocolaterie_logoCheck out Anne-Geneviève Poitras’s cute little shop in Hipsterville. The shop is cute as a button and the truffles are deep, dark and delicious. Be warned, though: they’re all rolled in Valrhona cocoa powder and are indistinguishable from each other, so it’s impossible to tell them apart by looks alone. You’ll have to taste each one to figure out what’s what.

Also note that the packaging isn’t much to sniff at, so don’t expect lush boxes or pretty bows and ribbons. What you get, though, is honest, well-executed, thoughtful chocolate that tastes exactly like what the name says it should be. Read my first post about Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France here.

Seasonal items cycle through the store. Look for sucre a la creme (a traditional Quebecois confection, kind of a maple fudgey thing) in the winter, and pate de fruits in the summer.

Open 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

198 East 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC
604-566-1065

Xoxolat

Xoxolat (pronounced sho-sho-la) has Vancouver’s best selection of bean-to-bar chocolate. At last visit, they carried Pralus, Amano, Bonnat, Claudio Corallo, Zotter, Theo Chocolate, and more. The selection changes and there’s always something new. If you’re new to artisan chocolate, the lovely ladies at Xoxolat are happy to provide a bit of background.

Open Tuesday to Saturday (10:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (noon-5:00 p.m.)

2391 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC
604-733-2462

Other places worth noting

The Vosges bacon bar is legendary, and Dandelion Emporium is the only place in Vancouver that carries it. When not sold out, Dandelion carries it in milk and dark chocolate, in the 3 oz and 1/2 oz size. If they are sold out, they also have other tasty offerings from the Vosges line. Rumour has it they might be getting the flying chocolate-bacon pigs!

There’s only one bean-to-bar chocolate producer in Canada, and that’s Toronto’s Soma Chocolatemaker. You can get these unique bars at 49th Parallel Cafe in Kitsilano, where they also serve the Soma Chocolatemaker drinking chocolate in dark, spicy or milk hazelnut. The selection rotates, so it’s a bit like playing a chocolate lottery. Except that you win, every time.

Read more about both of these finds in “Surprising places for chocolate in Vancouver.”

Also, Chocolate Arts does beautiful stuff, and for some reason I’ve never written about them. Hrm.

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ChocolaTas: salted chocolate yumminess

In case you missed it, I’ve been reviewing chocolates from ChocolaTas: their  dent-du-midi (almond praline), Earl Grey, and four-spice milk chocolate bonbons.

The last chocolate that I tasted from ChocolaTas was the salted dark chocolate ganache. Salt and chocolate are all the rage these days, with the flavour combination popping up everywhere. It makes sense, really, because good chocolate has a really complex flavour profile – similar to wine or coffee – but is missing salt. And salt, as we all know, makes things taste good.

In all seriousness, salt enhances flavours. And since chocolate is already delicious, just think about what a little kick-start could do.

I was expecting something a little bit different, but – wow. The salt the flavours rounder, more subtle, and more cohesive. It really brings out the earthiness of the chocolate, and highlights new flavours, some of which I can’t quite put my finger on yet.  This one is fun – you should try it the next time you’re at Granville Island.

ChocolaTas
151 – 1669 Johnston St.,
Vancouver, BC
V6H 3R9
604-488-1226
ChocolaTas on Urbanspoon

ChocolaTas: four-spice milk chocolate

I’m reviewing a selection of chocolates from ChocolaTas, and so far I’ve covered their dent-du-midi (almond praline) and Earl Grey chocolates.

I’m not a big fan of milk chocolate. I find most milk chocolate – even the high-end stuff – to be slightly cloying and slick on my tongue. The one exception is Valrhona manjari milk chocolate, which tastes like caramel and butterscotch. Nom nom nom.

But I’m not one to be a chocolate snob (no, really). I figured I’d take the plunge and try ChocolaTas’ four-spice milk chocolate bonbon. It’s quite pretty, with fancy cocoa butter swirls all over it. The four spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and ginger but I couldn’t taste all of them. The cinnamon and nutmeg came through, but I got too distracted by the milkiness of the milk chocolate. That says a lot, given what strong flavours ginger and pepper are. I think the choice to have a milk chocolate base was probably wise, since dark chocolate would overpower the delicate spices. Even still, the recipe needs a bit of tweaking: either more spices, longer infusion time for the spices in cream, or a different (less cloying) milk chocolate.

ChocolaTas
151 – 1669 Johnston St.,
Vancouver, BC
V6H 3R9
604-488-1226

ChocolaTas: tea-infused chocolates

Yesterday I talked about the dent-du-midi (almond praline) at ChocolaTas. Today, it’s tea-flavoured ganaches. They make a bunch of them, including Rooibos, Kyoto Cherry Rose, and Green Tea, but I was restrained and tried just one: the Earl Grey. Earl Grey is a pretty classic flavour (we made them in culinary school), although you don’t find it often in Vancouver. Thomas Haas makes a lovely lady Earl Grey chocolate with hints of lavender and orange peel. Yum.

But this is a post about ChocolaTas, not Thomas. The ChocolaTas Earl Grey chocolate is smooth and silky and has a surprisingly clean flavour. I don’t mean surprising like I expected it to be bad, just that the tea flavour is quite pronounced and separate from the chocolate flavour. It also hints at bitterness without actually being bitter. I appreciate that kind of subtlety.

ChocolaTas
151 – 1669 Johnston St.,
Vancouver, BC
V6H 3R9
604-488-1226

ChocolaTas: Dent-du-midi

At the ChocolaTas booth a few weeks ago, I tried their Dent-du-midi. It’s billed as dark chocolate with almond praline and nougat, which is a fairly classic flavour. Consequently, it’s a good litmus test for the rest of the line of chocolates. After all, if a chocolatier can’t get a praline right, then there isn’t much hope for anything else.

For a refresher on what praline actually is, check out my post on Voya’s hazelnut praline bonbons.

The ChocolaTas almond praline is actually quite surprising. I was expecting sweet, chocolatey notes and not much else – but there’s a lovely nuttiness and richness to this chocolate. The almond provides more interest and depth to what would otherwise be a pretty pedestrian chocolate. Just for good measure, there are little flecks of praligrain for a bit of textural interest.

ChocolaTas
151 – 1669 Johnston St.,
Vancouver, BC
V6H 3R9
604-488-1226

ChocolaTas, and method to my madness

You’ve probably never heard of ChocolaTas before. The Abbotsford company has been around for a while and does a bustling business providing wholesale chocolates to local restaurants and hotels. ChocolaTas used to have an occasional table at Granville Island Public Market, and made some buzz last year when it partnered with Emily Carr. Students were asked to supply custom designs for a winter line of chocolates. The winning designs were translated into coloured cocoa butter, applied to the tops of handmade chocolates, and sold as part of a limited edition collection.

Anyway, fast forward to today when ChocolaTas has a spiffy new booth at Granville Island Public Market. There’s an impressive selection of flavours ranging from the expected (80% dark chocolate ganache) to the unexpected (wasabi and lemon-thyme, among others).

I chose an assortment of chocolates to try. It has taken me a while to figure out how best to approach a tasting menu of chocolates, because I tend towards the exotic or unusual flavours. The problem with this is that if an unusual chocolate isn’t good, it’s not clear whether it’s the chocolatier or the flavour. I’m more disciplined these days, and try to get a mixture of classic and crazy. I’ll usually get a few classic flavours (caramel, hazelnut, vanilla or coffee) and then a few wacky ones to round things out.

ChocolaTas
151 – 1669 Johnston St.,
Vancouver, BC
V6H 3R9
604-488-1226