In every one of its conceivably magnificent forms, from creamy bonbons to silky fondues, malted milks to the reliable solid candy bar, chocolate has the ability to elevate minds, hearts and spirits. Like no other delicacy in history, chocolate has been universally known to send shivers down spines while planting smiles on faces, supposedly due to its powers as an aphrodisiac. It’s no wonder the Aztecs got so violent without their chocolate!
Thankfully, mounds of the sweet stuff abound in New Orleans, so take advantage of all the sultry delights the city has to offer and do it often. Use whatever excuse necessary, from celebrating Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart and reaping the health benefits of dark chocolate to just ingesting it because it tastes so dang good.
The Melting Pot
Grab your Valentine and dive right in to oldschool fun at this terrifically cocoa-centric fondue restaurant, where it can be rough to decide which warm, satiny chocolate pot to dip lovely accoutrements in. Cascade fresh strawberries and bananas into the Flaming Turtle fondue, which showcases lush milk chocolate loaded with chopped pecans and swirls of golden caramel, flambéed tableside. Dunk fudgy brownies into the Amaretto Meltdown, a blend of velvety white chocolate and toasty amaretto. Or feed your date marshmallows, chunks of pound cake and pineapples bathed in the Pure Chocolate fondue, a divine selection of either milk, dark or white chocolates fashioned into one of the most unadulterated nectars of all. And if you’re in a creative mood, take the plunge and design your own delectable chocolate fondue. Plus, the fun doesn’t stop at the pot. Sip on one of the specialty drinks that feature chocolate, like the Chocolate Martini, a mix of Stoli Vanil and white crème de cacao, sealed with a Hershey’s Kiss. Or go for the Yin & Yang, a blissful meld of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanil Vodka and vanilla ice cream, replete with the famous Chinese cosmology design on top crafted from a generous heaping of chocolate shavings.
Whole Foods Market
Both the Metairie and Uptown locations of this progressive-philosophy food giant contain a plethora of chocolate. Find a bounty of chocolate in the “serve yourself” loose bins, including various chocolate-and-nut trail mixes and bridge mixes. Traipse through the candy section, where notable chocolate bar selections include environmentally conscious Green & Black’s Organic Maya Gold, which features dark chocolate with orange and spices; Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s Creole Exotic Candy Bar, a compound of cocoa nibs, espresso and New Orleans–style chicory in Sao Thome bittersweet chocolate; Chocolove’s scrumptious Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate Bar; and Dagoba’s Organic Chocolate Bar in Lavender, laced with lavender essence and blueberries. Dense Callebaut chocolate chunks in multiple sizes and flavors are available to do with as you please at home, from making chocolate drinks to bolstering the chocolate flavor in a favorite cookie recipe. Whole Foods’ bakery offers a bounty of chocolate treats, such as buttery chocolate croissants, delicate chocolate lace cookies and wonderful flourless chocolate cakes. Feel good in all sorts of different ways by chugging chocolate milks, from the Horizon Organic to the cream-rises-to-the-top Smith Creamery brands, and the good-for-you Light Silk Chocolate Soy Milk. Two chocolate bonuses exist at the Metairie store, where a terrific homemade gelato bar rotates yummy flavors such as cookies and cream, an unbelievable chocolate milkshake and you guessed it— straight-up chocolate! A whirling chocolate fountain allows shoppers to have anything they like hand-dipped in silky chocolate magma, from fresh, sweet strawberries to dried fruits to sinful double-fudge cookies.
Barnes & Noble
Bookstores are a perfect setting to arouse the inner chocoholic as well, and at the Westbank and Metairie Barnes & Noble locations, there’s lots of chocolate action to get excited over! The intellectually minded will be thrilled to find a nice selection of chocolate-themed books for all ages, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chocolat, Blood and Chocolate, The Chocolate Puppy Puzzle: A Chocoholic Mystery, Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars, The Seven Sins of Chocolate and Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory. Engross yourself in scores of chocolate recipe collections such as The Chocolate Bible and Chocolate Passion: Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine. Head over to the Barnes & Noble Café, which features Starbucks beverages, and delve into those chocolate tomes over a steamy mug of hot chocolate or a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. And on your way out, grab a few Godiva Chocolatier’s Valentine’s Day Ballotins and heart-shaped boxes, filled with an assortment of crave-worthy designer chocolates, perfect for all the Valentines on your list.
Blue Frog Chocolates
The name of this New Orleans confection cottage suggests it all—colorful, wild chocolate hallucinations await all who hop on in! Find exotic species of any and everything chocolate that could possibly be dreamed up in this chocolate rainforest, from specialty chocolate fleur de lis to habit-forming chocolate-covered gummy bears, malted milk balls and premium colorful chocolate nonpareils. Beautiful Joseph Schmidt Truffles in Bailey’s Irish Cream and Chocolate Decadence flavors, Fancy’s American Toffee in Milk Chocolate and Walnut or Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut flavors and M&M’s in 21 different colors—and that’s just the beginning! Select from an array of Bellagio Gourmet Hot Cocoa flavors, from White Chocolate to Chocolate Truffle. A cool way to say “I Love You” is with a cute, little blue chocolate frog nestled in a bed of colorful crunchy chocolate rocks. With hundreds of chocolate novelty gifts, from Hurricane Katrina trash piles, chocolate alligators and chocolates hearts, Valentine’s shopping becomes a titillating chocolate adventure at Blue Frog Chocolates!
Desperately seeking the ultimate in chocolate delights? Serious chocolate fans need to visit the Palace Café to enjoy the unforgettable and amazing White Chocolate Bread Pudding, a saucy chocolate experience that you’ll never forget. This signature dessert is an institution within an institution, consisting of dense white-chocolate bread pudding laden with white-chocolate pieces and saturated with the most luxurious of elixirs, an addictive white-chocolate ganache, unified to serve as one of the sweetest pleasures ever on a plate. Valentine’s Day, or any other occasion, is the perfect reason to get as much of this chocolate coma-inducing ecstasy down your gullet as possible, and the whopping pleasure gleaned from it is truly worth breaking out the insulin, if necessary.