Wednesday, April 19, 2006

MarieBelle Chocolates

This little shop down in SoHo on Broome Street is just too cute for words. The first thing I was drawn to when I stepped in the door was a display of tiny metal lunchboxes filled with hot chocolate mixes. I just wanted the lunch box ... the combination of the signature blue and gold was just delicious in and of itself.

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I restrained myself from marching up to the counter with my special request and instead looked around at the adorable and imaginative offerings. Almond brittle shaped like cocktail olives (in green and black), little candies shaped like pebbles, dragees (upscale candy coated chocolates) in addition to their super-cute square and imprinted chocolate truffles.

imageAgain I tried to savor the place, so I ducked into the back room where the coffee and chocolate bar was. I ordered up an Aztec Hot Chocolate, American-style ($6), which meant it was made with milk, not water. Not a spiced chocolate, just dark and rich, it was a sizeable cup (and I’d just been to Vosges not two blocks away) with a wonderful no-too-sweet creaminess.

The smoothness can be attributed to something I read on the website: “Maribel’s own divinely decadent recipe contains NO COCOA POWDER but instead is made from the purest Belgian cocoa and most refined sugar.” I wonder if the packets they sell can rival what I drank there, but it’s probably worth a try someday.

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Earl Grey Tea - the beautiful squiggly one was buttery and chocolatey but had only the slightest hint of bergamot but a nice dry acidic hit which I’m guessing was from a tea infusion.

Caipirinha - a lighter (milk?) chocolate infusion with a tart bite to it ... honestly, I didn’t even know what the word meant until I looked it up after I ate this one. It’s an alcoholic drink of lime juice, sugar and a spirit called Cacha?a which is distilled sugarcane juice.

Spices - a tasty and slightly sweet blend of dark chocolate and spices felt like buttery cinnamon toast. There was no cruel burn to this spice infused truffle, just a woodsy fragrance.

Lavender - supple and smooth, this had a nicely fragranced tone to it but it was mostly sweet and buttery chocolate.

Mystery - I have no recollection of what this one is, and it’s not shown on the little printed guide that came in the box. It’s dark chocolate on the outside and the center is milk chocolate with a tart overtone without any citrus notes at all. I have no clue. It was nice but lacked enough definition for me to say what it was.

Gianduja - this was not at all what I expected. I figured it would be a sticky milk chocolate like the Caffarel morsels, however, this was based in dark chocolate and thick and buttery. It had a slight nutty grain to it, but that texture was pleasant and the whole thing was suffused with hazelnut goodness. Unlike the Caffarels which demand a glass of water right after eating, this little chocolate demands that you pop another one in your mouth. I only bought one ... wah!

My biggest disappointment came with my purchase of three pates de fruit ... I traveled with them in the same box as the truffles and I’m guessing that the packaging was not airtight enough for them and they were dried out, crunchy rocks when I got them home and took their picture on Saturday (they were purchased and packaged on Thursday). Don’t get me wrong, I still ate them, and they were still flavorful and intense concentrations of fruit, but I was hoping for a repeat of my wonderful experience with the Boule pates.

Overall, they’re exceptionally pretty and wonderfully smooth but the infusions weren’t quite as distinctive as I’d hoped for the price. If you’re looking for something more subtle than Vosges, these might be a good option. The sell via their website. If you’re in SoHo, it’s worth the trip, especially for a little break in their coffee/cocoa bar (where they also have pastries).

MarieBelle
484 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-6999

Name: Assorted Chocolates
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: MarieBelle
Place Purchased: Marie Belle (NYC)
Price: $19.00
Size: 6 pieces of chocolate
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:41 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Is it wrong that after reading your reviews, I now am attempting to plan visits to candy stores in any free time whenver I go on a trip?

    Comment by g on 4/20/06 at 5:47 am #
  2. Hi

    Some beautiful pictures like that one of the hot chocolate mariebelle03-lg.jpg.  I’m into photography.  What camera was used? 

    Thanks,
    Janet

    Comment by Janet Shum on 4/20/06 at 8:54 am #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    g - I’m wondering why I’ve never taken advantage of the candy stores in Los Angeles in this way! (But it’s easier to rationalize candy shops when you’re on vacation.)

    Janet - I have a Sony Cybershot DSC-V3 that I bought used on eBay about a month ago (an upgrade from my Sony DSC-V1). I think it’s a discontinued model but has a nice lens for a point & shoot camera (and 7 megapixels) and has lots of manual modes for the studio work I do.

    I take all the photos on the site with that camera ... I’m very happy with it and thanks for your compliment!

    Comment by Cybele on 4/20/06 at 9:04 am #
  4. OMG! Caipirinha?!?! But you forgot the most important [or no, heheh], Caipirinha is a genuine brazilian drink, heheheh.

    Unhappily, where I live there isn’t candy shop like that, =/

    Comment by lekrapo on 4/21/06 at 4:50 pm #
  5. How do they make those pretty, tiny little paintings on each piece of chocolate?  I’m imagining a bunch of little elves handpainting each one with a single boar bristle (kinda like those guys who make paintings on the head of a pin, or on a grain of rice)

    Comment by Colleen on 4/21/06 at 5:05 pm #
  6. I’ve been away for a while, and I come back to discover Candyblog’s whirlwind NYC candy tour! Joy! I’ve got some reading to do…

    and caipirinhas are my favorite smile

    Comment by sallie on 4/24/06 at 1:43 pm #
  7. To answer the packets question, the hot chocolate in the cafe is better. It’s tough getting the chocolate in the packets and the tins to completely dissolve, but it’s not a lost cause. The packets and tins are still quite tasty once you get over the fact that there are a few melty chocolate chunks in the bottom.

    Comment by Kate on 3/29/07 at 4:19 pm #
  8. You can also get many Marie Belle products at Pampour.com.

    The best way to dissolve the chocolate bits is by first microwaving a small amount of water with the chocolate for about 30 seconds at a time.  Then stir the choc. to dissolve.  Once dissolved, then add milk and microwave to heat throughly.  Can also be done on the stove the old fashioned way too. 

    It’s also great for cooking with.  Check out the recipes on Pampour.com too.

    Comment by Sally on 1/26/08 at 8:33 pm #
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