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A view of two neighborhood chocolate shops

-By Alexandra Leaf

I came to chocolate relatively late in life; 24, to be precise, when Valrhona Chocolate began exporting to the United States in the mid-1980s. Pastry chefs everywhere were clamoring for high-quality French staple chocolate (also known as couverture). I discovered it in the dark chocolate cake at Gotham Bar and Grill. Granted, I had had a version of dark chocolate as a kid, at Bosco and Nonpareils, but it was a very special kind of dark chocolate – it was stormy and so full of flavor. 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 little chocolate shop on the south side of Christopher Street. Miraculously, this old and candy that opened in 1923 not only survives today, but thrives in six locations across the city. (Production takes place at their factory in Industry City, where curious customers can peek through the glass walls.),” says president and co-owner Anthony Cirone. For those looking for a rich and satisfying hot chocolate experience, the Chelsea Market and Greenwich Avenue locations serve up a hearty cup. And if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a chocolate-loving friend or loved one, the Li-Lac Chocolate Club of the Month is a great idea. As the company prepares to commemorate its 100th anniversary, you’ll want to keep an eye out for ways to help celebrate this milestone.

See’s Candies on West 8th Street is an oldie and candy that comes to Greenwich Village via California. (And interestingly, the founder of the iconic American company, Mary See, was actually Canadian.), including the brittle peanuts, which hail from the era of Mary See. “I really wanted to bring See’s Candies, the largest chocolate company on the West Coast, to the Village,” says store operator Bill Rhodes. “See’s combines an exceptional service experience with an exceptional product. We transport fresh chocolates every week. If you haven’t yet discovered the delights of See’s Candies, now is the perfect time to stop in for some holiday shopping to go.

Hot chocolate your way

Ingredients:

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

Equipment:

  • a sturdy pot to heat the milk
  • a whip

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

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