The easiest way to convince any craft-chocolate doubters of its superiority to mass-produced bars is to get it into their mouths.
Luckily, in New York City, we have a few excellent makers and stores to pop into for a peek at the process and a wide array of chocolate of various origins to try. To get the word out about their specific approach to chocolate, though, San Francisco’s cacao darlings Dandelion Chocolate have spent this week running a pop-up in Chelsea to serve hot chocolates, their take on a s’more, cookies and cake, all made with their own product.
While they’re only at 180 Ninth Avenue through December 3, you can deepen your love for chocolate with their brand-new book, Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S’more, which is a very visual and in-depth look at the history of craft chocolate in America, the process of making it (even at home), sourcing ingredients and recipes from pastry chef Lisa Vega. The tome was a collaboration between co-owners Todd Masonis and Greg D’Alesandre, Vega, and food writer Molly Gore, and its breadth and depth are staggering while still being approachable for those who haven’t tried their hand at bean-to-bar chocolate-making in their apartment kitchen.
“Our goal for the book wasn’t to be an advertisement for Dandelion,” Masonis told me over a Mission Hot Chocolate at the pop-up. “We actually tried to write the book that we wanted to have when we started making chocolate.” He wrote the first two chapters, which cover how we’ve gone from having five companies producing all the world’s chocolate to an explosion of small makers, as well as how to make chocolate at home with little more than a hair dryer. The book ends up being both a guide and a manifesto, educating on not just chocolate but sugar and baking.
Those of us who love craft chocolate have been hoping for a while now that it would be next in line to be treated with as much reverence as wine and coffee. This book and the success of the pop-up are signs we could be headed that way. If you want to get a taste and pick up a copy, the Raaka Chocolate factory in Red Hook will be hosting their West Coast friends on Saturday at 6 p.m.