With Easter coming up, we look at some of the best places in the world to sample chocolate delights, from cupcakes in New York to churros in Madrid.
This romantic city has lured visitors for centuries to its beautiful architecture, stunning art and famous opera house. One of its many other delights is afternoon tea in the opulent cafes, where it’s not unusual to have a pianist serenading you while you eat your cake. Vienna’s wide variety of cakes are works of art in themselves, but a must is the legendary sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake with an apricot jam filling and a chocolate ganache. Go to the Hotel Sacher for the original version.
New York may be famous for the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, etc, etc- but another of its must-sees- or must-eats- is the Magnolia Bakery. From its original cupcake shop in the West Village, which often has queues around the block, to locations around New York, the US and now worldwide, the Magnolia Bakery has become a bit of an institution (its cupcakes even featured on Sex and the City). Its delicious temptations include devil’s food cake with chocolate truffle filling and chocolate ganache- is that enough chocolate for you? Or try the delicious Easter specials.
Immerse yourself in chocolate heaven alongside beautiful squares, churches and canals. Not far from the Church of Our Lady, which is home to a Madonna and Child statue by Michelangelo, is the Old Chocolate House, which sells delicious praline chocolates, a Belgian speciality. The Roose Chocolaterie has a Willy Wonka style selection of exquisite chocolate slabs with ingredients including papaya and strawberries (dedicated chocoholics can go for a half-kilo slab). Visit the Chocolate Museum, where you can learn the history of chocolate from its Aztec origins to the present day, and find out how it is made- or get stuck in yourself with a chocolate making workshop.
The first people to discover the delights of chocolate were ancient tribes including the Aztecs, who used cacao beans as currency and revered cacao as ‘food of the gods.’ Sample the food of the gods in Oaxaca, which, as well as being a world heritage site and home to many museums and temples stuffed with treasures, is also considered to be the birthplace of chocolate. Browse along Calle Mina, or ‘Chocolate Street’ and markets with artisan chocolate stalls. Watch chocolate being made in one of the many factories, and try Mole Negro, a chocolate sauce that is served with savoury dishes such as enchiladas.
Did you know luxury high street chain Hotel Chocolat have their very own hotel on the idyllic island of St Lucia, nestled in the cocoa groves of their cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate? As well as exploring the lush landscapes and sandy beaches, the boutique Boucan hotel offers daily chocolate treats in your sumptuous suite and cacao-based beauty treatments at the Cocoa Juvenate spa. Have a refreshing cocoa tea at breakfast, sample the cacao cuisine menu in the restaurant for dinner, with exquisite chocolate-inspired dishes including local produce grown on the estate, and enjoy a cacao bellini at sunset.
As well as its incredible mountains and fresh alpine air, Switzerland is famed for its chocolate and is home to many international brands. Book a ticket on the chocolate train between Montreux and Broc, a luxurious Pullman train that takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Swiss Riviera to Gruyeres, the home of Gruyere cheese, where you can visit the cheese factory, and then travels on to Broc and the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory, where you can enjoy a tour and taste samples of freshly-made chocolate.
The Spanish take their chocolate seriously. A popular Spanish treat at all hours of the day and night is churros, which are long thin doughnuts, sprinkled with sugar and traditionally dunked in thick dark chocolate. After a busy day’s shopping, sightseeing and art-gazing in the Prado, watch some flamenco dancing or go to a club and then do what the locals do and head to a chocolateria (such as San Gines) for a satisfying late night snack that definitely hits the spot.