The box of chocolates is a staple this time of year. But if you’re looking for a way to up the ante or sweeten the Valentine’s deal, so to speak, then consider a twist on date night this year. Follow this magical trail of chocolate to any amount for an indulgent adventure in chocolate flavor profiles.
Mile High French Silk Pie and Irish Coffee
As they say, “Go big or go home.” This dessert at Tamarack Taproom surely takes the cake, er, pie. The Mile-High French silk pie ($7.95) is maybe not an actual mile high, but it has been measured as tall as 8 inches. The crust is flakey-thin so that the majority of this culinary explosion is silky chocolate mousse, so creamy it coats your throat on the way down. The height, of course, comes from delicate peaks of whipped cream, a staple of any cream pie, and its consistency seems to change—the layer of real whipped cream that meets the mousse is almost a light ice cream, while the peaks are foamier. General manager Jesse Barton calls this dessert “legendary,” noting it is meant to be shared. If you didn’t know, the decadent cakes and pies served and sold here are made by local chocolatier Haute Chocolate. After a cooldown like this, warm up inside and out with a steamy cup of hot coffee—whipped up with your choice of one of Tamarack’s many whiskeys. ($8, varies dependent on choice of whiskey.)
Health Nut with Cacao and Chocolate Bliss Scoop
Nekter Juice Bar
Change things up with a healthy twist at Nekter Juice Bar. Owner Kris Valentine says adding cacao chips or chocolate drizzle to any shake or smoothie is always an option ($1 add-in charge), but a perfect option might already exist for a little-less-guilty indulgence: The Health Nut smoothie offers your choice of peanut or almond butters mixed with banana, house-made cashew milk, pea protein and agave nectar, blended with ice and cacao chips for that chocolatey flavor ($10.35/large, add $1 for almond butter). “Or, our Scoop is back,” he says, noting the Chocolate Bliss vegan take on a frozen treat (aka ice cream) is just $4.25/scoop. Made fresh daily with creamy cashew milk and clean, plant-based ingredients, it’s as decadent as the “real thing.”
Bashing Brownie and a Cookie Dough Egg Roll Sundae
Wild Bill’s Sports Saloon
When you think Wild Bill’s, you might think drinking and dancing, which are great ways to re-energize that chocolate appetite. And be sure to consider these desserts, each a steal at $6.25 apiece. The Bashing Brownie is straight-up gourmet double fudge (i.e. cocoa powder and chocolate chips), topped with a smoky toasted marshmallow fluff and salted toffee sprinkles. Feeling like taking a bit of a break on the chocolate on chocolate on ooey, gooey chocolate? The Cookie Dough Egg Roll Sundae might seem a stretch, but—sorry, no break here—it is infused with chocolate chips and drizzled with hot fudge, and its decadence just shouldn’t be missed. Rich, double-fudge chocolate chip cookie dough is wrapped in pastry crust and deep-fried for just minutes, crisping the crust and melting the dough for a warm center. Straight out of the deep-fryer, this sweet egg roll served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with the aforementioned hot fudge and caramel sauces. (Getting thirsty? Mention you’re taking a chocolate tour with your sweetheart, and the bartenders will come up with a special chocolate shot, just for the occasion!)
Crave American Kitchen and Sushi Bar
A go-to at many a bar is a chocolate martini, otherwise known as “dessert in a glass,” but there are few that rise to the occasion as well as the craft masters at Crave American Kitchen and Sushi. Godiva coffee liqueur, Bailey’s Irish cream and Stoli Vanil vodka are shaken with a bit of chocolate sauce, then gently poured into a chocolate syrup-swirled martini glass ($11.25). Be careful and indulge in just one—these will sneak up on you!
Nadia Cakes’ cupcakes are as beautiful as they are tasty.
Chocolate Knight and Triple Chocolate Bouquet
Start your evening off right with a not-so-traditional holiday bouquet, by way of chocolate cupcakes decorated to look like roses. This surprising sweet twist offers the opportunity to be so many things—Nadia’s decadent Chocolate Knight cupcakes (classic chocolate cake frosted with traditional cream cheese frosting and drizzled with dark chocolate and crisp chocolate pearls), the Triple Chocolate cupcakes (same chocolate cake and icing but with Callebaut chocolate topped with white and dark chocolate chips and drizzle), even the vegan/gluten/dairy-free chocolate cupcakes all make a great base for this specialty gift. A note on ordering: Nadia Cakes takes orders in-store or over the phone. Give a week’s notice—or longer for a more customized creation.
A special new treat from Nadia Cakes are these whimsical, edible chocolate terrariums.
Red Velvet Bundtlet Towers
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Before their doors close, swing by Nothing Bundt Cakes and pick something up for a midnight snack back at home. Red velvet in a chocolate tour? You betcha. Velvet cakes historically are named such for their silky texture, which they acquired from variants in flours mixed with baking soda and buttermilk (think: bubbles and mixed textures to really maximize the fluff), and Dawn and Peter Parker, owners of Woodbury’s Nothing Bundt Cakes, use a traditional southern recipe. With the addition of natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), a compound found in plants that creates dark-colored pigments called anthocyanin mixes with acid to create a reddish color. Today many red velvets compromise with food coloring, but the flavor is still that smooth, silky chocolate. Add in a sprinkle of chocolate chips throughout, and top with the thick, signature cream cheese frosting petals that adorn each Nothing Bundt cake. For the holiday, go a little flashier, with a gift-wrapped Bundtlet Tower ($6.50–$15.50). (Gluten-free options are available.)
Map out your tour de chocolat for your next decadent date night.