Charlotte's Best Bites: Chocolate
When it comes to chocolate, it’s hard to judge what’s good and what’s great—our taste buds are happy to have it no matter what. So we asked Geoff Blount, who knows cacao from bean to bar, to pick the best in Charlotte
Why: They work hard.
Recent changes to the barCHOCOLATE business model hint at its success: An overload of orders pushed owners Lin McKay and Mike Shafer to close up shop at 7th Street Public Market and move to wholesaling to locations such as Okra and Greeneman Farms. Their truffles, made colorful by suspending food-grade colorant in cocoa butter, line cases at select Dean & DeLucas.
Why: They’re passionate about the process—and will tell you about it.
This Cotswold storefront is owned by the Dietz and Ciordia families, and they’ll tell you more about their chocolate-making than most are willing to share. Their glass cases of truffles, marshmallows, caramels, and cakes sit in front of a large window into the kitchen.
2935 Providence Rd. #104
Why: You can eat and lounge.
When it comes to gifting chocolate, packaging is important. Yes, it’s the ganache on the inside that counts, but first impressions matter, and Bar Cocoa has that figured out. Its proximity to the Ritz-Carlton lobby lets you eat your truffles in comfort. “There’s something about being able to lounge about, sit, eat your bonbon, and drink a glass of wine inside of Bar Cocoa,” Blount says.
201 E. Trade St.
How to tell if you’re eating a good chocolate: “The shell should be thin, and snap and crackle under light pressure, revealing the ganache center. The center should be moist and creamy; it shouldn’t be grainy.”
Why: It’s like walking into a candy shop from the past.
Stepping into this Concord shop will take you back in time. Large chocolate sculptures and massive cakes draw you in, while truffles, bonbons, and barks will follow you out. The old-school offerings make Jean-Luc and Ann Marie Barrucand’s shop a throwback, and Blount calls Jean-Luc the most experienced chocolatier in the Charlotte area.
1 Union St. South, Concord
20 DEGREES CHOCOLATES
Why: You can see how it’s made.
Inside Petit Phillippe in Myers Park is a kitchen that produces 20 Degrees Chocolates, named for the cacao tree’s limited growing area between 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Shoppers can browse the finished products, lined up along a marble countertop covered in glass, as though shopping for the perfect diamond. Pair your chocolates with a glass of wine from the tasting bar as you watch chocolate being made through a window into the kitchen.
2820 Selwyn Ave. #160
Turtles, truffles, toffees—find it all at Davidson Chocolate, with locations in Davidson and on East Boulevard in Dilworth. The wide variety of chocolate items makes it a great stop for gifts.
1235 East Blvd.
COURTNEY PAUL CHOCOLATES
You can’t find Courtney Paul Chocolates at a storefront just yet, but pick up a few of the locally made bars while shopping at such specialty foods stores as Whole Foods and Earthfare, or such tourist spots as the Visitor Center and Levine Museum.
CAROLINA CHOCOLATE COMPANY
One of the newer shops in town, Carolina Chocolate Company just opened up in 7th Street Public Market, replacing barCHOCOLATE as the market’s resident chocolate supplier.
224 E. 7th St.
MEET OUR CHOCOLATE EXPERT
As one of seven chocolate ambassadors in the United States, Blount serves as a resource to chocolate crafters working with Callebaut, one of the world’s best-known suppliers of Belgian chocolate. He’s a Central Piedmont Community College graduate, and he followed up his culinary degree by studying at the French Pastry School in Chicago. He now oversees the Baking and Pastry Arts program at CPCC’s Harris Campus.