The Aztecs first cultivated chocolate for its invigorating and inhibition-lessening qualities. Chocolate contains neurotransmitters, which lift your mood and make you happy. These neurotransmitters are also rumored to tell the brain that you're in love and leave you bordering on the feeling of euphoria. With something that has these effects, shouldn’t you be consuming it regularly?
Do we really need a month to celebrate such a sweet treat? I think not! However, not all chocolate is created equal. While there are many restaurants in Atlanta where you can consume an amazing chocolate cake, soufflé, mousse, etc, we’re going beyond that to tell you about the chocolate purveyors who create magical experiences for our taste buds.
- Cacao – Did you just enter a luxury chocolate shop or a jewelry store? You may be confused for a moment as Cacao (Buckhead location) puts its chocolate on display as if it were jewelry. The setup is divine, and you know you are about to taste something very special. Kristen Hard has made it her life’s mission to identify the world’s most elite purveyors of cacao beans and partner with them to create the ultimate chocolates. Flavors include limoncello, white chocolate & strawberry balsamic, dark chocolate & salted caramel, dark chocolate & hazelnut, and espresso & black truffle. The Buckhead location even showcases local artists' work. Stop in with your favorite chocoholic for some sensuous delights.
- XocolATL – Located in Krog Street Market, XocolATL is known as Atlanta’s small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate maker. The shop uses only two ingredients -- cacao and organic cane sugar -- in its single-origin dark chocolate. There are no additional fillers or emulsifiers so that what you taste is the true flavor of the chocolate from different regions. All that is added are ingredients like peppermint or dried apple or sea salt, to enhance the flavor. What is really neat are the gift boxes. Choose from items like the Chef’s Box, which includes cacao nibs and raw cacao beans, or the Drinking Chocolate box, which includes everything you need to make a luxurious cup of cocoa. The boxes are the perfect gift for any chocolate lover.
Want to know what the bean-to-bar process is like? I went to Ecuador last year, visited the farms and saw the collection process/production firsthand and here's what it's like.
Still seeking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out these 11 places in Atlanta with ice cream, doughnuts and other treats.
Malika Bowling is the author of Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More!, and founder of Roamilicious.com. Malika also has served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including Taste of Atlanta. Her podcast, Just a Byte, can be downloaded from iTunes. Follow her on Twitter @MalikaBowling and Instagram.