As if Vegas didn't already have enough sweet temptations, gourmet artisanal chocolates are the city's newest indulgence.
Artisanal chocolate makers are popping up around Vegas, coaxing out the natural, nuanced favors of cocoa beans from around the world. Here are five artisanal chocolate treats you should let melt in your mouth as soon as possible.
Single-Origin Chocolate Bars
Before launching Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions (Paris Las Vegas, 702-331- 5551), chefs Matthew Silverman and Matthew Piekarski traveled the world choosing growers and beans for the five single-origin dark chocolate bars they would make in their open kitchen. Their new methods avoid emulsifers, using nothing but cocoa and organic coconut palm sugar. The Madagascar bar has the highest percentage of cocoa, and the naturally sweet bean produces strong citrus notes. Hexx offers free chocolate tastings and tours.
Double Sea-Salt Chocolate Caramel
French chef Jean-Marie Auboine made stops at the Fountainbleu in Miami and Bellagio before striking out on his own to open Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier (4780 W. Harmon Ave., 702-222-0535). His signature chocolate caramels have garnered national attention for their soft, mild caramel center. The simple double sea-salt caramel combines caramel with a rich, smooth coating made from 65 percent Putumayo dark chocolate and a generous dash of sea salt.
Fortunato No. 4
At JinJu Chocolates (Container Park, 702-348-9407), Jin Caldwell is one of a handful of chocolatiers with access to the Nacional cocoa bean from the Marañon Canyon in Peru. The rare Fortunato No. 4 was only recently rediscovered. The beans are slow-roasted, preserving the natural fruity, floral, and nutty favors. Caldwell crafts small chocolate disks, mixing them with favors like honey and raspberry, but the pure Fortunato No. 4 bar allows the famous bean to shine.
Chocolate-Dipped Candied Oranges
Megan Romano’s bakery, Chocolate & Spice (7293 W. Sahara Ave., 702-527-7772), has been a local favorite since opening in 2012. The shop offers cakes, pastries, and fine chocolate treats, including her unique chocolate-covered citrus. Dipping candied oranges in a dark chocolate couverture from the Brazilian chocolate company Sicao lets the chocolate’s own citrus profile blend seamlessly with the oranges, and the contrast with the citrus allows the natural favors of the dark chocolate to stand out.
Winner of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest award for pastry chefs, Jean Philipe Maury moved his Las Vegas production facility and 110-member team from Bellagio into a 6,000-square-foot kitchen at Aria when it opened in 2009, and branches of Jean Philipe Patisserie (702-590-7227) can be found at both resorts. The Bellagio shop is known for its chocolate fountain, the world’s largest, but the refined, expertly crafted chocolates are the real show-stoppers.