Friday, April 21, 2006

Jacques Torres

imageOne of the must-see chocolate places in NYC is Jacques Torres. Even if you’re not a fan of their chocolate or have little money, it’s still an event. There are two locations in New York, one in Brooklyn and one on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Billed as Chocolate Haven, it truly is a delight for the eyes. The factory is wide open to witness from the street as they craft their handmade chocolate bars and when I was there they were packaging all of their hand-cast Easter goodies. From inside the store you get more than a view, you also get the scents and sounds.

imageBut the best way to appreciate the innards of chocolate making though is from the Chocolate Haven shop. The glass walls enclose this little slice of sweetness and there’s ample room to move around and stop for a cup of hot chocolate at the chocolate bar.

I had a cup of custom blended Wicked (spiced chocolate) and Orange. It was smooth and sweet but not at all sticky. However, it was so rich and the portion (the smallest) was far too much for me to finish. As much as I tried, I couldn’t manage more than half of it.

Again, a little cup of hot chocolate helps me to keep my wits about me in such a place, it satisfies the chocolate craving and keeps me from going nuts and buying everything or gobbling it up as soon as I get away from the cash register with my purchases.

imageThese little bunnies are just cute as bunnies. They’re each a little bigger than my thumb (which is kinda small) and were a good sampling of the Jacques Torres chocolate. The package was very light and as I guessed, they’re hollow ... so the whole thing weighed about 1.4 ounces. It cost $5.

The Dark Chocolate bunny tasted much like the hot chocolate. Smooth and rich with a slight dry finish, it wasn’t terribly complex but had some good woodsy/smoky qualities. I’m guessing this was the house blend variety of their chocolate which is 60% cocoa. The Milk Chocolate was quite sweet and has the European flavor to it, it was also very smooth but with a more fudgy quality to it. It’s one of those milk chocolates that begs you to eat more of it. The White Chocolate was really quite nice too. It’s true white chocolate in the sense that it’s made with cocoa butter and not tropical oils. It smelled very sweet and in fact tasted that way too, but had a slight caramel/vanilla note to it that made it much better than a bowlful of sugar.

They were all very nice, but for the price, first, I’d want solid chocolate. At this rate a pound of little bunnies would be over $50. I understand that more intense products like truffles demand a higher price, but these hardly qualified for such a premium. Not when the single bars of 3.5 ounces sell for $4.


This was my favorite purchase. I almost missed these too, they were placed up at the register and if I hadn’t already picked out the bunnies, I wouldn’t have even bought anything.

These are candied slices of orange that are then dipped in dark chocolate. They are absolutely gorgeous confections. I just couldn’t resist buying them because I knew they would photograph well. Luckily I love candied citrus peel, so I was really looking forward to these. They were just as dense and rich as I’d hoped. The orange slices were soft and juicy and not too sweet. The rind carried strong orange essences without the slightest bit of bitterness. A well-candied citrus rind bears more fruit flavor than a marmalade, which often tastes of sugar syrup.

I’ve not tried the rest of the Jacques Torres line of chocolates, so I can’t comment on the truffles or other chocolate covered goodies. They’re pricey though, but the visit to their shop provides a bit more value to the brand. I give them higher marks than the sole merits of the chocolate in the bunnies, the orange was extraordinary and gives me the confidence to recommend the other chocolate covered goodies I saw. There were fun items like chocolate covered corn flakes, graham crackers and cranberries and traditional fare like apricots, ginger and pretzels. Where the Scharffen Berger line has always been rather traditional in its expression (and I love that) I don’t care so much for the chocolate, just for the filling. Here the chocolate worked as the perfect complement to the orange and I reckon it would make even pedestrian items like corn flakes tasty.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven
350 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-2462

Name: Candied Orange Slices and Chocolate Bunnies
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Jacques Torres
Place Purchased: Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven
Price: $5.00 and $1.50
Size: unknown
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, White Chocolate, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:44 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Those Chocolate Bunnies look like they’re in Mid-sneeze, lol.

    I wonder what kind of Orange that is also, I thought they looked more like Kumquats to be honest…

    Comment by GTO on 4/22/06 at 6:17 am #
  2. Cybele's avatar

    Haha - I hadn’t thought about that ... maybe they’re sticking their tongues out for the doctor.

    The orange slices were pretty big ... like orange slices, about 3-4”.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/22/06 at 6:55 am #
  3. I was going to say that I thought that the bunnies looked kind of mean.

    Comment by Dave on 4/23/06 at 12:01 am #
  4. Wow..the oranges look amazing! Sounds like they taste as good as they look. Glad you didn’t miss them!

    Comment by BlogRank on 4/23/06 at 9:46 am #
  5. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Chocolate Haven’s hot chocolate described as uber rich.  I don’t think I could handle it either.  They should sell shots of it for people that don’t have the hot chocolate tolerance to handle a whole cup ^_^ 

    Those bunnies have such a sour expression on their faces!  Maybe because they know they’re gonna get eaten!

    Those orange slices really are super pretty.  They look like stained glass!

    Comment by Samantha on 4/23/06 at 5:15 pm #
  6. Those oranges look divine.  Almost too pretty to eat.

    Comment by g on 4/24/06 at 3:38 am #
  7. The orange slices sound great, but! I have tried the Jacques Torres chocolate bars—well, at least several made for the Origins line of allnatural skin care products.  I was underwhelmed.  At $5 a bar, I found them overpriced.  They are supposed to have hints of exotic essential oils or extracts in the bars.  One bar is Brighten Spirit, if memory serves.  It had stuff like black pepper, ginger, mandarin.  Well, something like that.  I never tasted any of the exotic flavors in any of the several different bars I tried.  Just any ol’ dark chocolate bar.  And what is wrong with milk chocolate.  Everything they did was dark chocolate.  Sometimes, I like milk chocolate.  Don’t tell anyone, I still like Hershey bars even though I read/heard in the book, Emperors of Chocolate, that its distinctive taste came from a batch of milk that was either sour or burned or spoiled in some way.  The author said that Europeans do not like Hershey chocolate except when the chocolate is combined with the sweetness of almonds.  Best.

    Comment by Triviaguy on 4/25/06 at 11:09 pm #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Samantha - I wish they did sell the hot chocolate by the shot - I was happy with that size when I had it at other times during the week.

    Dave - the bunnies looked ever weirder in the large size with the contrasting white chocolate in them!

    g - I did eat the first one pretty much after I photographed it, but I hung onto the other one for several more days ... which was hard knowing how tasty it was.

    Triviaguy - I agree that the chocolate was rather ordinary, but I think their other chocolate covered goodies and the hot chocolate set them apart. That and the store is pretty fun. (But I haven’t tried the truffles yet.)

    I’ve read Emperors of Chocolate and I know the rumor about the origins of Hershey’s milk chocolate well (I grew up in south central Pennsylvania). Though some folks say it’s spoiled or burnt, I liken it to yogurt, which is a far more pleasant flavor in my estimation than the powdered milk taste of European “dairy” milk chocolate.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/26/06 at 7:38 am #
  9. i bought the chocolate covered ginger and i think it had a wonderful ratio of chocolate to ginger. i had to stop myself from eating the entire tin in one sitting.

    i was able to finish a cup of the wicked hot chocolate but my girlfriend was not. it was the perfect thing to have on a colder december day!

    we bought a few of the truffles as well and iafter we ate all of them, we realized we don’t really like truffles that much. smile

    we’ll still go back though!

    Comment by jayfish on 4/28/06 at 12:34 pm #
  10. I really don’t have a comment, other then I am in the industry and am Fascinated by Jacques’ work. On top of that I am currently doing a report on him for school and was wondering if you would be so willing as to email anymore pictures of his chocolate work.

    Thanx a bunch!!
    The Doughboy

    Comment by Greg Lauder on 7/17/06 at 8:23 pm #
  11. Just thought I drop in my opinion…Jacques Torres makes some pretty amazing chocolate, especially considering who the competition is. Their hot chocolate is not to be beat at a cool $3 for - as you’ve noted - an uber thick, delicious chocolate drink. Compare that to the chic new place on Union Square, Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar. Their hot chocolate is $5, is smaller, and tastes like sugar with a hint of hershey’s chocolate.

    PS - The Chocolate Haven is actually in West Soho (or Hudson Square area) at King St. and Varick.

    Comment by Marc on 8/24/06 at 3:23 am #
  12. Cybele's avatar

    Marc - I’m glad to hear the head-to-head comparison of Max Brenner. I’ve only had the packaged Max Brenner confections and it’ll be another 6 months or so before I get back to NYC to try their hot chocolate in person.

    Thanks for the clarification on the location - I just went off of what they put on their website (but I managed to find it okay).

    Comment by Cybele on 8/24/06 at 7:39 am #
  13. so a little disgusting news i can now reveal since a friend of mine quit the torres franchise in august….their chocolate has a moth larvae infestation.  it’s kind of gross to hear about after eating so much of it…said friend told me they would just freeze it and melt it back into the supply again to try to kill them…

    also they don’t make their own chocolate…they buy bulk and just pour the molds (he says they grind their own beans)

    Comment by the face stuffer on 10/03/08 at 4:37 am #
  14. Cybele's avatar

    face stuffer - I don’t like to host anonymous accusations about companies. Perhaps your friend is willing to say something here.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/03/08 at 4:51 am #
  15. Love Jacques Torres’ shop in Brooklyn.  Their hot chocolate is sinful and best when shared with a friend (ask them and they will give you an extra cup for sharing) because it is so rich that it is difficult to finish the small size on your own.  On a brisk day, I love grabbing some then heading over to the park to watch the Manhattan skyline.

    Comment by Hot chocolate and love on 3/07/09 at 10:50 am #
  16. Well, I agree with face stuffer because after enjoying jacques torres chocolate on many occasions, the latest box of assorted chocolates I bought in December had a live moth in it, and it wasn’t in there the 1st time I opened it. I hate to think that the tiny bug came out of the chocolate but I see no other explanation, as the box was completely sealed.

    Comment by chocolover on 2/25/10 at 11:02 pm #
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