Prepare your tastebuds for a chocolatey experience for the books, located right in the Big Apple.
New York State’s first-ever chocolate museum arrived in Manhattan on March 6 to feed the curiosity of any chocolate lover, along with their sweet tooth.
Choco-Story New York is located in SoHo and, aside from being a museum, offers a hands-on experience with world-renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres. Having only been open for about two months, the museum has already drawn in people from across the world, according to museum general manager Brittany Henderson.
Behind the magic is Eddy Van Belle, who owns other various museums across the globe, including three other Choco-Story museums in Belgium, France and Mexico. Pairing up with Jacques Torres was the ultimate combination for Van Belle’s New York endeavor, as Torres is commonly referred to as “Mr. Chocolate.”
Upon entering, chocolate fanatics are greeted with an all-consuming scent of fresh chocolate, enhancing the historical and indulgent experience. Across every wall and around every corner are different authentic artifacts used throughout the ages in Latin American countries, dating back to before Christ up until present day. Along with a history lesson, visitors can taste samples of dark, milk and white chocolate and compare them with single origin chocolates from places like Vietnam, Costa Rica and Peru.
“When people come here, not only do they get to taste different types of chocolate — they also learn about the different uses of it,” Henderson said. “Of course we eat it, but [the Mayans and Aztecs] used to use it to make paper, to use it as an offer of sacrifice and there were different ways that it was stored and created.”
After traveling down the pathway of chocolate history, visitors are shown a demonstration of how Mexican hot chocolate is made — a recipe that is 5,000 to 5,500 years old. Onlookers can try three variations: first, the pure Mexican hot chocolate, followed by an addition of different spices of choice including Mexican pepper, cinnamon, anise and hot chile and finishing up with adding sugar to their liking.
Down the hall is another demonstration of how to create fresh chocolate bonbons with a creamy ganache center, which visitors are also able to eat afterward. To pass the 30 minutes between demonstrations, visitors can sit and watch an informative video about the history of chocolate and its uses in its countries of origin. There is also an archaeological sandpit for children, where they can find hidden artifacts.
Visitors can participate in a hands-on chocolate-making adventure on Wednesdays and Saturdays. At 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., visitors are guided through their very own creations of chocolate bars, molds and lollipops of varying deliciousness. Options include dark, milk and white chocolates, with visitors also able to include hazelnuts, salt, almonds, cacao nibs and more to their mouthwatering creations. One thing the museum prides itself in is its use of chocolate that is free of the artificial additives common to many name brand chocolate companies.
“People come to the museum because they love chocolate,” Henderson said. “We want you to try to do as much as you can with chocolate before actually eating it, so that you can get the full chocolate experience.”
The museum is located at 350 Hudson St. in Manhattan and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Choco-Story New York or to purchase tickets, go to choco-storyny.com.
This story first appeared in The New Paltz Oracle on May 4, 2017.