The chocolates at Rachel Zoe Insler’s diminutive East Village shop Bespoke may not, as its name suggests, be whipped up at your personal behest, but that’s not to say they don’t taste like they were made just for you. Classic combinations like coffee and chocolate sit side by side with more adventurous pairings like strawberry-balsamic and Chai spice milk chocolate, ensuring a match for every mood.
Milk and cream come from Ronnybrook Dairy and pretzels coating sea-salted caramel truffles are courtesy of Martin’s Pretzels, but inspiration often arrives from more far-flung destinations. A friend’s recent gift of cardamom from India begat a Turkish coffee truffle: At $2.25 a pop, it’s the recession-minded equivalent of the tasting menu at Per Se.
Giving good weight to her shop’s whimsical name, Insler chooses the chocolate used in each truffle for the undertones of its terroir rather than playing the numbers game of cacao percentages, the usual method for weighing one bean bar against another. For the Southampton truffle, Insler pairs an apricot-spiked Black Ceylon tea with Caribbean chocolate, which is fruitier than, say, the Madagascar chocolate she uses to balance out her orange-infused truffle. Because, in case we’ve forgotten, Insler reminds me, chocolate is an ingredient, too.
Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell