Almost everybody loves chocolate. In fact, according to the recent article by CNN, “Chocolate is having a moment.” Chocolate continues to rise in popularity. As other items have started to decline in purchasing due to belt-tightening amidst increased prices, the buying of chocolate has bucked that trend.
The conclusion: “Stressed out customers reach for something sweet to take the edge off.” In this Covid and semi-post-Covid era, stress seems an ever-present factor. This holiday season, why not relieve your loved ones’ stress with the gift of chocolate?
Bear in mind that all chocolates are not created equal. We in the Hudson Valley have the great fortune of being blessed with top-quality chocolate made by top-quality chocolatiers.
To grab say a Hershey bar from a giant chain store might seem like a generic gift to give with little thought (and you might be correct). However, thoughtfully sifting through the beautifully crafted chocolates in every size and flavor made lovingly by a local chocolatier in your hometown does add something very special.
Below are some local chocolate shops that make local gift-giving this holiday season more than a little distinctive.
Lagusta is known in New Paltz and beyond for using all-vegan, ethically sourced ingredients in her chocolate. For those of you who aren’t vegan, you might think that this isn’t for you. You couldn’t be more wrong. Her chocolates are deliciously rich, creamy and beautiful.
Each holiday, her team creates chocolates for just that holiday. For example, during Halloween they made a chocolate skull, for Thanksgiving caramel and autumn leaves.
For Christmas and Hanukkah, Lagusta has a variety of chocolates specially made for these holiday seasons. Lagusta suggests the holiday bark which “has candied citrus and white chocolate and is more December-y. We also have giant dreidels coated in blue swirly white chocolate which are super-beautiful, and also our Winter Wonderland Box is a bit of a showstopper.”
You can stop by Lagusta’s Luscious Café at 25 North Front Street, New Paltz, and sip a latte while you shop. Or go to https://lagustasluscious.com/
Lucky Chocolates in Saugerties is full of unusual flavor combinations that provide a whole new experience to your taste buds. Flavors include sour lemon, strawberry balsamic, ginger, Chimayo chili — to name but a few.
Originally founded by Rae Stang, Lucky Chocolates has always offered healthy chocolates with interesting flavor profiles, depth and strong tastes. Tavin Mitchell continues that legacy with condensed, beautiful and intense pieces of art. Tavin, who worked very closely with Rae for years, has kept the chocolate much the same and just as delicious. Several flavors are featured for the holiday season including candy cane, pumpkin pie and gingerbread.
They can be found at 113A Partition Street in Saugerties or online at https://luckychocolates.com
Oliver Kita has been making his chocolate locally for over 20 years. He honed his chocolate-making skills in several of the finest chocolate-making schools, including more than one in Paris. He uses only the finest ingredients and offers both vegan and non-vegan options.
For many years, his shop was located Rhinebeck. He has now relocated to a store on Route 28 outside Kingston.
Oliver Kita makes a large variety of artisan, fair-trade and all-natural chocolates, “having a passion for cooking and baking with the perfumes and flavors of chocolate, flowers, herbs, citrus, exotic fruits, berries, nuts, and spices.” For the holiday season, he offers luxurious hot chocolate, a Tuxedo Black gift box, and a 64-piece Gold and Onyx Escallier.
His chocolates can be purchased at 608 Route 28, Kingston or online at www.oliverkita.com
Fruition Chocolates just celebrated eleven years in business. Using traditional and modern techniques, Fruition begins by selecting ethically sourced and flavorful cocoa beans. From small-batch bean to bar chocolate, the award-winning line of confections are made with an eye to detail.
Fruition has won 73 awards to date and has been recognized among the best chocolate-makers in the world. They have been featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, among many others. Their gift sets include Origins of Peru: Tasting Set, Chocolate-Covered Nuts Gift Collection, and Brown-Butter Bourbon Caramels.
Their chocolates can be purchased at their store on 3091 Route 28, Shokan or online at https://www.fruitionchocolateworks.com/
Krause’s Chocolates has been making hand-dipped chocolates since 1929. Locally owned and lovingly run, Krause’s has been voted Hudson Valley’s best chocolates/candy store for the past 13 years.
Four generations of masters have been refining the art of making chocolate utilizing traditional hand-dipping techniques to create unique confections. Their customized chocolate boxes and personalized chocolate molds allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth exactly as you wish.
For the holiday season, Krause’s uses old-fashioned traditional molds of Santa Claus, chocolate marshmallow Santas, stockings and Christmas trees, foil-wrapped Christmas balls, Hanukkah foil coins, chocolate dreidels, menorahs and Star of David chocolate pops.
Offering over 50 varieties of handmade chocolates and candy treats, Krause’s has three Hudson Valley retail locations. Its flagship store is at 41 South Partition Street, Saugerties. Additional locations are at 2 Church Street, New Paltz and at 6423 Montgomery Street Suite #9, Rhinebeck.
Krause’s can also be found online at www.krauseschocolates.com
EJ Bonbons and Confections
EJ Bonbons and Confections in Woodstock is an artisanal chocolate shop which focuses on serving those with a sweet tooth and a love for hand-crafted confections that are both beautiful and delicious. Chefs Emily Kellogg and Pierre Pouplard met while working at Per Se in New York City and eventually moved to Emily’s home town of Woodstock to open their first boutique.
Employing the highest-quality ingredients, each hand-painted bonbon is made in small quantities, allowing a focus on the finest of details. Their bonbon boxes make the perfect gift and come in quantities from four to 72 pieces. No matter the size, each box offers a festival of both color and flavor.
Their chocolates can be purchased at 2 Old Forge Road on the Village Green in Woodstock, or online at www.ejchocolates.com