Category Archives: Chocolate

Roni-Sue Chocolates and Rhonda Kave (a/k/a Roni-Sue)

truffles and more truffles

Truffles and more Truffles – from Roni-Sue Chocolates – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

I’m always fascinated reading about people who transitioned to dessert-related occupations as second careers.  I also like hearing about successful entrepreneurs whose social consciousness impacts their businesses.

Roni Sue Chocolates with painted gate

Storefront of Roni-Sue Chocolates – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

And when I signed up for a truffle-making workshop at Roni-Sue Chocolates, I was almost as interested to hear Roni-Sue’s story as I was to learn how to make truffles.  (Roni-Sue Chocolates is known for its truffles, buttercrunch toffee, and “Pig Candy” (chocolate-covered bacon).

Roni Sue

Photo of Roni-Sue – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

While Rhonda, a/k/a Roni-Sue, had been making chocolates, she was a passionate hobbyist, and not a professional chocolatier. Although she describes herself as a “serial careerist” she spent several years working to help the victims of domestic abuse.  And when she decided to open up her chocolate store, she chose the Essex Market, a diverse, community-oriented market located in NYC’s Lower East Side.  Her second location, a free-standing store, is a few blocks away.

MOHO Chocolate Bar

A MOHO Chocolate Bar – Photo Courtesy of MOHO Chocolate

Her social consciousness led her to become a partner in a Belize-based bean-to-bar chocolate operation, MOHO Chocolate.  The cacao beans are grown by local farmers in Belize.  And all of the fermentation, roasting, and other processing is handled in a central processing facility in Belize, helping farmers maximize their crop while also keeping money and jobs in this Central American country.

MOHO chocolae bars and other products

MOHO Chocolate Bars and other MOHO Chocolate Products – Photo Courtesy of MOHO Chocolate

As Roni-Sue notes, MOHO Chocolate utilizes an interesting business strategy.  The chocolate bars are sold in a MOHO store located in the tourist area of Belize.  Who are the customers? For the most part, passengers on cruise ships that dock there—not repeat customers.  These bars are sold in this country only when one of the MOHO partners comes back from a trip to Belize—and they’re sold in one of Roni-Sue’s locations—until they run out.


Beer and Pretzel Caramel Truffles – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

But let’s get back to truffles.

Cocktail Collection Truffles

A Box of Cocktail Collection Truffles – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

Roni-Sue uses MOHO Chocolate for the interior of her truffles and for her hot chocolate.  (She obtains the chocolate in 4 pound blocks.). For the outside coating of her truffles she prefers Callebaut or Valrhona chocolate since they’re a bit smoother.

a display on Harvey Wallbanger truffles

Harvey Wallbanger Truffles – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

What kind of truffles does Roni-Sue offer?  A huge variety.  How about my personal favorite—the Harvey Wallbanger truffle made with Valrhona white chocolate, vodka, Galliano, and orange-infused white chocolate ganache?  Or a “Frida” truffle with dark chocolate, espresso, Kahlua, and Dulce de Leche?  Or a Beer & Pretzel Caramel truffle?  The list goes on.  And seasonal specials – such as Rose truffles for Valentine’s Day, round out the offerings.

showcase with truffles

A Showcase of Truffles – Photo Courtesy of Roni-Sue Chocolates (NYC)

I’ve been dreaming of truffles!

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2015 Chocolate Fest at the 92nd Street Y


Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Dark Chocolate Toffees from Laurie & Sons - Photo Courtesy of Laurie & Sons (NYC)

Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Dark Chocolate Toffees from Laurie & Sons – Photo Courtesy of Laurie & Sons (NYC)

At the 2015 Chocolate Fest at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, chocolate was not the only game in town.  Chocolate Fest attendees could also sample wine and cheese that pair nicely with chocolate.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  I totally ignored the cheese, tried a sip of a spirit made from cacao pulp (Solbeso), and lunged for the Chocolate.  And I was thrilled to see there were a variety of White Chocolate treats on display.

And what did my lunging yield? 

These novel, interesting, and tasty items:

Making Laurie & Son's Toffee - Photo Courtesy of Laurie & Sons (NYC)

Making Laurie & Son’s Toffee – Photo Courtesy of Laurie & Sons (NYC)

Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Dark Chocolate Toffee Minis – Dark Chocolate+ Licorice+ Toffee, along with star anise, Pernod, and black Hawaiian lava salt.  The company behind this treat is New York-based Laurie & Sons, with its line of “Not-too-Sweet Candy Snacks with a Touch of Surprise.”

FIKA's truffles - Photo Courtesy of FIKA (NYC)

FIKA’s truffles – Photo Courtesy of FIKA (NYC)

From FIKA, the Swedish-style coffee bar in New York City, a Lingonberry and Dark Chocolate truffle, which is covered in red-colored sugar.  What are Lingonberries you might ask?  Small red berries that are even tarter than cranberries.  Also worth noting is FIKA’s Key Lime Pie truffle, with White Chocolate.

Cashew Brittle in White Chocolate, a delicacy produced by M.P. Frederick, Confectioner, was also available for sampling.


Chocolat Moderne's Lemon Up Bar - Photo Courtesy of Chocolat Moderne (NYC)

Chocolat Moderne’s Lemon Up Bar – Photo Courtesy of Chocolat Moderne (NYC)

Chocolat Moderne’s Lemon Up is a White Chocolate Bar filled with a tart caramel that is made with fresh lemon juice.  Also available for sampling from this New York City-based Chocolatier was Solbeso Mi Mucho – a bar made with Valrhona’s Dulcey (blonde) White Chocolate, and a caramel with sea salt, unsweetened Chocolate and Solbeso – the spirit distilled from the pulp of Cacao.

The Voila Chocolat Store - Photo Courtesy of Voila (NYC)

The Voila Chocolat Store – Photo Courtesy of Voila (NYC)

And for do-it-yourselfers, New York City-based Voila Chocolat was there with information about its chocolate making classes/chocolate event space.

On a sugar high from all my “sampling,” I left the tasting, convinced all was right with the world of dessert!



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Chocolate Truffles and Other Chocolates


A box of truffles and other chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat

A box of truffles and other chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat

A chocolate truffle conjures up images of luxury, but what makes a chocolate a chocolate truffle?

A chocolate truffle is a confection that includes melted chocolate, cream or butter, and flavorings that can include liqueur, fruit, nuts, or spices.  After the chocolate mixture is chilled, it’s then rolled into balls, and can be coated with cocoa powder or more melted chocolate.  Since it resembles the savory (edible fungus) truffle, this confection is also called a “truffle.”  So it’s the round shape and the addition of cream or butter that makes a chocolate a truffle.  And of course, it’s the cream or butter that makes truffles so decadent (and somewhat perishable).

A box of truffles and other chocolates from Kee's Chocolates

A box of truffles and other chocolates from Kee’s Chocolates

I asked Kee Ling Tong, of Kee’s Chocolates, a high-end Manhattan chocolatier, which of her chocolates are the best sellers.  Kee said that her Crème Brulee Bonbon is her signature piece and has been the most popular item since she opened up shop in 2002.  But Kee noted her customers are also interested in Salty Caramel Bonbons as well as her Black Rose Truffles (dark chocolate with black tea infused with rose petals).

She said that since it’s so difficult to predict chocolate trends, she tries to offer a variety of chocolates — to satisfy the chocolate purists as well as the adventurous customers.  (See the Dessert Surveillance posting on Sophisticated and Exotic Chocolate.)  So far my favorite item from Kee’s Chocolates is the amazing Cognac Truffle.

Black Raspberry Chocolate from Zoe's Chocolate

Black Raspberry Chocolate from Zoe’s Chocolate

It looks like the Salted Caramel trend is still going strong.  Zoe Tsoukatos, of Zoe’s Chocolate, also reports that her salted caramel items (Fleur de Sel Caramels) are very popular.  And in the summer, her Black Raspberry Chocolate (white chocolate ganache blended with black raspberries and topped with dark chocolate) was very well received by her customers.  It’s very good.

Zoe notes: “Our philosophy is different from others.  We do not create products to shock and awe, but rather to create flavors that are familiar, yet with a modern twist.

Hooray for truffles – the chocolate kind, of course!

Sophisticated and Exotic Chocolate

Aztec chocolate to useUntil very recently sophisticated chocolate referred to single origin chocolate, preferably with a high    percentage of cocoa solids.  Now this single origin dark chocolate seems positively tame by comparison with   some of the more exotic chocolates available today.   

Visits to gourmet chocolate retailers and research online uncovered these more unusual chocolates:

— Raw dark chocolate with banana pieces and cayenne (Antidote Chocolate)

— Raw dark chocolate with pomegranate and acai berry (Gnosis Chocolate)

— Milk chocolate with African rooibos tea and dried cherries (Vosges Chocolates)

— Soft caramels with Kalamata olives (Chocolate Moderne)

— Dark chocolate with lavender and honey (Chocolate Springs)

— Dark chocolate with fig ganache and blue cheese (H.S. Chocolate Co.)


Vosges Cherry to use


 As spicy ethnic flavors become more popular and mainstream, they are also being used to add zing to  chocolate and other desserts.  These chocolates also reflect a greater interest in floral flavors and exotic fruits.   


 Are exotic chocolates here to stay? 


At the Chocolate Show in New York City, I posed this question to a few chocolatiers and here are their responses:


H.S. Chocolate Co.

Overall, people are becoming more adventurous eaters now, so, yes, these sophisticated chocolates are here to stay.  However, while adventurous eaters will keep purchasing these unusual chocolates, there will always be a group of people that has no interest in exploring exotic chocolates.


Chocolate Springs

Yes, they are definitely here to stay.  Dark chocolate and exotic chocolates are viewed as healthy foods.


Eclat Chocolate

Yes, people are always looking for new and different flavors