I am recovering from a chocolate hangover. Like a love hangover, it has no cure. It all started when I grabbed a Groupon for Chicago Chocolate Tours. Chicago boasts a long candy history and naturally, I'm very familiar with most of it but my husband isn't ( he just likes chocolate, not sugar in all forms). So we signed up for the Gold Coast Chocolate Tour and met are tour guide Jenny, above in the lobby of Bloomingdale's. Even though I possess a serious sweet tooth, I confess that I was not equipped to down pounds and pounds of chocolate over 21/2 hours.
We started at More cupcakes, a tiny gourmet cupcake boutique aimed toward cupcake snobs, which includes me. As you can see from the display above, the shop carries a dazzling array of flavors, including savory versions like maple bacon, goat cheese basil and blue cheese walnut praline.
We sampled a tasting size of the chocolate fudge cupcake that was rich and moist. We planned to head back to stock up on red velvet, salted caramel and passion fruit cupcakes after the tour but little did we know, the thought of more desserts would not be at the top of our lists.
Next, we visited Chicago's only Belgian Bakery, Hendrickx Bread Crafter. We crowded into the kitchen where the owners demonstrated their old world techniques. We tasted fresh bread, chocolate croissants and a raisin and walnut roll that melted in my mouth. I admit, I questioned their sanity when the owners mentioned that they had moved their business from the Bahamas when they tired of the weather but insanity clearly creates amazing baked goods.
The chocolate for the croissants was whipped up from blocks of Belgian chocolate. It was heavenly but the real test of a good bakery? When the kitchen floor is slippery from all the butter used.
When we arrived at Sarah's Pastries, I was feeling a tiny bit of chocolate fatigue. We had also toured Harry & David, where they plied us with chocolate truffles, chocolate and caramel moose mix popcorn, chocolate covered cherries, and a chocolate mouse so adorable, I couldn't bear to eat it. I crammed most of it into my purse because I just didn't have the strength for another bite. At Sarah's, we tasted chocolate peanut butter drops and something else that's a cocoa-covered blur. The cookies above, were so cute but not cute enough to tempt me to eat one. My resolve to taste every sugary morsel offered had disappeared.
When I saw the sparkling Christmas display at Teuscher Swiss Chocolate, I perked up. The chocolates are flown in weekly from Switzerland and since my memories of eating fresh Swiss chocolate everyday in Lucerene remain fresh, I gathered my strength to nibble the champagne truffle, pictured above.
We were instructed to down the truffle in two quick bites, in order to savor the flavor of the Dom Perignon flowing through the chocolate. It was good. I'm sorry I can't offer more details because by that point, my taste buds were starting to protest. I wouldn't have agreed before but there really is such a thing as too much chocolate. My husband lounged on a bench as I gazed glassy eyed, at the decadent chocolate arrangements. We had been defeated by chocolate.
With all the chocolate, we did manage to pick out some favorites, mine was the cupcakes but my favorite memory was of these people above. They stood in the cold in front of the historic Water Tower offering free hugs. I watched several children take them up on the offer, while most adults were wary but I thought it was a lovely idea. You can have too much chocolate but you can never have too many hugs.