I hope no one has felt like they’ve been slighted when it comes to chocolate national food holidays. There are TONS of chocolate-related holidays: just check out the “chocolate” tag on this blog 😉 And covering things in chocolate is one of the best ways to get your chocolate fix. We’ve had a ton of chocolate-covered holidays already in the calendar, including chocolate covered cherries, chocolate fondue, chocolate covered nuts, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate-covered cashew truffles, and even chocolate covered insects! Let’s face it, almost any food, even the weirdest and most savory products, end up tasting even better when you cover it in chocolate. That’s just science. 😉
So with all the chocolate-covered holidays we’ve already covered in the calendar–fruit, nuts, raisins–I wanted to showcase a few other things that taste fantastic when dipped in a rich, gourmet chocolate and prepared by the very best. We originally took a look at Li-Lac Chocolates way back in January, when chocolate-covered cherries were the treat of the day, and discovered that this family-owned chocolate shop has been cranking out the best cherries in the city for over 70 years. But they cover so much more than just cherries in their wonderful chocolate! You can get a whole assortment of chocolate-covered fruits, nuts, and other sweet treats here, including candied ginger, apricots, and marzipan rolls. One of their most popular chocolate-covered confections is a chocolate covered Oreo: this may seem a little excessive, but once you bite into the Oreo, all its nooks and crannies filled with high-quality chocolate, and get all the textures of the cookie and the chocolate together, you’ll know how good covering things in chocolate can be! The secret behind Li-Lac’s success is continuing to use their time-tested recipes from the 1920s. Whether you’re looking for fruit, candy, or even chocolate covered in chocolate, this is the place to be.
40 8th Ave (between Jane St & West 4th St)
“By now, you’ve probably realized that I like playing with my food. Thankfully, Li-Lac serves both chocolate letters and numbers as well as white chocolate-covered Oreos. (Yes, I know … dark chocolate is better. I always hear the lecture from my mom.)”–Grid Skipper
“Roaring Twenties candy shop remains cult fave. Newer location is big and bright, although jams to the gills come Christmas or Valentine’s. Cause for the fuss ain’t hard to trace: handmade artisanal chocolate, still made with the original recipes and old-school attention to detail. We’re loving on the hazelnut truffle squares, chocolate-covered cherries, and unparalleled nonpareils. Made fresh daily, has ruined the lines of more Manhattan figures than Alexander McQueen.”–Black Book Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I love coming to this little chocolate shop for the dark chocolate covered orange peels. Those are SO difficult to find in the city! There are other tasty treats, that they will let you try. What?! Okay, they are small samples, but still… It can get crowded, because the store is so small, but if you go at the right time, you can get in and out and be enjoying some chocolate in no time!”–Kathryn D.
“Chocolate covered pineapple. Chocolate covered apricot. Chocolate covered ginger. Does this count as getting my fruits and vegetables? Amazing.”–Tony G.
As tasty as they may be, Li-Lac does have a breaking point: everything they cover in chocolate is pretty delicious, but cherries and marzipan rolls have all been done before. You won’t find much originality in the chocolate-covered delights there, so head across town to the Essex Street Market for something that’s definitely…unusual. You’ve thought about covering sweet things like fruit and cookies in chocolate before, but what about something so innately savory as…bacon?! Don’t act like you wouldn’t love it! Who can resist bacon–and who can resist chocolate? That’s the thought behind Roni Sue’s “Pig Candy,” which is the best-selling product at her small store, Roni-Sue’s Chocolates. The whole Essex Street Market community comes together to make this sweet and salty masterpiece: Jeffrey Ruhalter’s butcher store supplies the bacon, while Shopsin’s cooks it to crispy perfection. Rhonda Kave, aka Roni-Sue, then dips the strips in high-quality milk or dark chocolate. And then, of course, hordes of bacon- and choco-holics descend upon the stall to snatch them all up! The mix of sweet chocolate and salty bacon actually works great, kind of like salted caramel, and the crispness of the bacon holds up well to the chocolate covering. There are many other bakeries and chocolatiers in New York who are mixing bacon and chocolate on a regular basis, but no one gets it so in-your-face as taking a whole strip of bacon and covering it in chocolate! While you’re noshing on your sweet-and-salty treat, try out the other, more refined confections at Roni Sue’s, including an elegant raspberry truffle and her classic buttercrunch.
Roni Sue’s Chocolates
Essex Street Market, 120 Essex St, Ste 24
“It’s called “pig candy,” ($29 for 1/2 pound gift tin) and it’s manna from heaven. The adage that everything is better with bacon is writ large in this small confectionary located inside the quirky locavore-themed Essex Street Market. The bacon is baked crispy next door at Shopsin’s, then dipped in milk or dark chocolate. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, then get ready to begin dreaming of your next visit.”–CBS New York
“I love bacon, and I love chocolate,” she gushed. “This is such a great combo. I love it.” Yes, that’s right: chocolate-covered bacon. O.K., it may never top peanut butter and chocolate as a gustatory combo, but it has its fans. At some level, the study in contrasts worked: salty and sweet, crunchy and silky, flesh and not-flesh. Well, maybe not that last one. Debbie Perina of Bellerose, Queens, gave a thumbs-up sign after she tasted chocolate-covered bacon at Rhonda Kave’s Roni-Sue booth. The creation was offered by Rhonda Kave, a chocolatier who started her shop, Roni-Sue, a year ago in Essex Street Market. She started selling it two months ago as part of her salty-and-sweet line, inspired by the chocolate and bacon bits bar offered by Vosges. That product, she said, did not have the right bacon-to-chocolate ratio for some people’s tastes. So they decided to dip the whole bacon strips — as other vendors have done elsewhere.”–The New York Times
“This 56-year-old mother of two is the twisted mind who brought you Pig Candy, which is pretty much what it sounds like: whole bacon strips dipped in dark or milk chocolate—porky, salty crunchiness in a cocoa-butter cloak. Kave’s Fuster Cluck utilizes Pig Candy’s leftover animal- fatty dipping chocolate in a sodium-packed lipid bomb of peanut butter, Special K flakes, bits of bacon and freeze-dried banana. Her BaCorn, meanwhile, is popcorn from Greenmarket’s Oak Grove, covered in caramel and flecked with, yes, more bacon, and chili-dusted peanuts.”–Edible Manhattan
“Rhonda Kave (aka Roni-Sue) takes a piece of Jimmy Dean bacon, supplied by butcher and market neighbor Jeffrey Ruhalter and fried by the good folks at Shopsin’s (also in the Essex Street Market), and dips it in high-quality milk or dark chocolate. Now that’s what I call a food-community team effort. Is it porky? Oh, yes. Is it chocolaty? You betcha. Is it salty? Uh-huh. Is it delicious? Insanely so.”–Serious Eats
“Roni-Sue briefly described the process; they basically cook the bacon extra-hard and then coat it in chocolate. Biting into a piece, the bacon was at that point just before burning, when it becomes so fried that it practically dissolves in your mouth. I think I’d have preferred full strips, even with a little bit of chew left to them, but maybe I’m weird. It was still delicious, crunchy, smoky, salty bacony goodness dipped in dark chocolate (I’ve been eating only the dark ones, hehe), and I would not be against picking up some more, if I can ever make it over to the Essex Street Market before they close…”–Feisty Foodie
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I was also bad and got a bag of the pig candy aka chocolate covered bacon for me and my bf. He loves bacon, I love chocolate, I was there, it just made sense. Definitely a clever combination. Something that you have to try, may not love, but cool to say you did. I liked how the bacon was salty and offset the chocolate (like a chocolate covered pretzel). The chocolate covered bacon is definitely not something you can get often, it will probably be awhile before I get the urge to try it again.”–Marissa C.
“By the way, how awesome is the name, pig candy? How can you not want it? Bacon and chocolate are two of the most satisfying (and indulgent) treats, so putting them together has got to be amazing. And it is. Pig candy is perhaps even better than the sum of its parts. So, do you like chocolate? Do you like bacon? Even if you like only one of these things (how could you?), Roni-Sue’s pig candy may very well change your ways forever.”–Gabrielle G.
While I admit, many of the times I write these blog posts, I have never been to the places that I’m highlighting, this time I do happen to have a horse in the race. Most people don’t think about the southern neighborhoods of Brooklyn as places to find great cuisine–hell, most people don’t think about the southern neighborhoods of Brooklyn at all. But Sheepshead Bay’s where I grew up, and Midwood’s where I spent most of my teenage years, and it’ll always be home to me. And for my Sweet Sixteen (I won’t tell you when that happened, lol!), I gave out little chocolate “A” lollipops to all my guests, courtesy of Jo-Mart Chocolates on Avenue R. An unassuming little chocolate shop in a residential neighborhood, you wouldn’t think Jo-Mart would have much clout, even in this sleepy part of Brooklyn, but you’d be dead wrong. A family business that’s still going strong after over 65 years, Jo-Mart sells fine quality molded chocolates, truffles, candies, and chocolate covered love. The “love” I’m talking about is basically anything you’d like: fruit, pretzels, other candies…it’s all good, hahaha. The most popular chocolate-covered confections here are the pretzel rods and their homemade marshmallows. But what you get here is something far better than just a tasty chocolate-covered marshmallow: you get a sense of the community, an old family chocolate shop where the owner’s behind the counter and knows all his patrons’ names. It’s a feeling that most New York transplants would feel they left behind in their square states; maybe they’d like to know that it exists in my childhood, too. 🙂
2917 Ave R, Marine Park
“In 1961 the store moved from East Flatbush to its current location, along a two-block commercial strip of Avenue R in an otherwise residential neighborhood. Mr. Rogak started working at the shop at age 9. “I was taught to put the eyes on the Easter bunnies,” he said. He still uses his grandfather’s antique copper kettles and original recipe for the cloudlike marshmallows that have become the store’s most popular item. “You say ‘marshmallow,’ and people think of the stuff that comes in a bag that’s only suitable to put on a stick and set on fire,” Mr. Rogak said, inviting a reporter to experience one of his chocolate-covered creations. Let’s just say there is a reason customers keep coming back.””–The New York Times
“Owner Michael Rogak (“son of the son of a candymaker”) believes that the key to world peace is chocolate. You might agree if you feel like taking the B or Q to Kings Highway and walking for blocks. I’m obsessed with chocolate-covered pretzels, so my favorite is the delicacy pictured: milk chocolate-covered pretzels laced with mini M&Ms.”–Grid Skipper
“I asked Michael which items he was most proud of. He only thought a second before he answered the chocolate covered butter crunch and marshmallows. I cannot resist buttercrunch, and his is certainly among the best I have ever had. It helps that he uses great, intensely flavored chocolate. The marshmallows are spectacular, too. I also dote on chocolate-covered orange peel, and so that’s what I took home with me.”–The Food Maven
“The dark chocolate at JoMart is particularly awesome, and it is offered as an option for every variety of candy. They make caramels, and simple truffles, and homemade ‘Chunky’ bars, and peanut butter cups unmistakeably filled with “Skippy” peanut butter, and chocolate covered pretzels, and the list goes on. Nothing fancy, everything delicious.”–Brooklyn Glutton
“Like many old-school companies, they are all about customer service and will pack you up a customized box of their hand-dipped chocolates (including their famous chocolate covered marshmallows). JoMart chocolates are like what you always wish a box of chocolates was like–a mix of caramel, toffee, nut and candy-cream-filled delights that are all different and delicious.”–Brooklyn Based
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Yes, this place is expensive – but quality costs. It’s been around since the 1940s, so it’s not trendy, but whoever said that trendy tastes good, never mind delicious? The products are hand-made, not mass-produced, and the cost wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in Williamsburg or Manhattan. The chocolate is sublime.. I’ve bought the chocolate covered pretzels as hostess gifts many times and have yet to recei ve an uenthusiastic review. It’s impossible to go wrong here. Chocolate making classes are also available for the gourmet Willy Wonkas.”–Lisa Jane C.
“Before I begin, I’m a chocolate pretzel lover and quite the connoisseur. My cousin had JoMart’s chocolate covered pretzels as a take home treat at her party and were soooo amazing, I called the company for more info. They were more than happy to accomodate my chocolate pretzel fix and would ship me whatever I liked. Truly the best chocolate pretzels I’ve ever had!”–Marlo G.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!