Top Pick Of The Week

February 3, 2009

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Schocolat Fine Handmade Chocolates: Each bite is a delight. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: Artisan chocolates.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Lovely Belgian-style shell-molded chocolates with brilliantly-flavored centers, remarkable for their clarity of flavor, including some flavors with notable infusions of spirits.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Fabulous flavors; inspired improvements on the traditional.

Schocolat: Gold In The Hills

CAPSULE REPORT: The picturesque village of Leavenworth, Washington attracts many tourists. We haven’t been there, but we already know that one of the best attractions is Schocolat Fine Handmade Chocolates. You don’t have to make the trip to pick up a box for Valentine’s Day or other special occasion, though; you can order online or, for a personal touch, call.

Schocolat says that they make their chocolates in a classic European style, but we found more excitement here than in most classic assortments, even from prestige name chocolatiers. “Classic style” means using the finest ingredients and hand-making the chocolates in small batches to control quality and freshness. (The nuances of flavor are strongest right after the chocolates are made; no preservatives are used in artisan chocolates, so the fillings will deteriorate—which is why one should eat, not hoard, a box of fine chocolates).

While each of the flavors is absolutely superb, we were astounded by how well Schocolat integrates spirits and liqueurs into the centers of its chocolates. Rather than merely a faint hint of flavor, the taster is richly rewarded by a divine marriage of body (chocolate) and spirit. But we’re preaching to the choir. Read the full review below, and get a big, big box. Schocolat is a discovery of THE NIBBLE’s chocolate sleuth, Stephanie Zonis. See more of her recent chocolate discoveries.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


Learn About Great Chocolate

Discover Chocolate - Clay Gordon The New Taste Of Chocolate - Maricel Presilla Essence Of Chocolate
Discover Chocolate: The Ultimate Guide to Buying, Tasting, and Enjoying Fine Chocolate, by Clay Gordon. A chocophile shares his enthusiasm for learning about the world of fine chocolate. Click here for more information or to purchase. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes, by Maricel Presilla. A seminal book for learning about chocolate, from one of the most respected industry experts. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. More than 100 recipes, including Chocolate Chunk Challah, homemade “Oreos” and Chile-Marinated Flank Steak. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Schocolat: Gold In The Hills


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Introduction To Schocolat

The story of Schocolat is even more uplifting than a delicious box of chocolates. By the end of the 19th century, the Great Northern Railroad came to the mountain community of Leavenworth, enabling the small logging town to thrive for several decades. But times changed with the Great Depression; the railroad re-routed, and the bustling hub of commerce turned into a community on the brink of extinction. In the early 1960s, community leaders developed a last-chance strategy to save their town. Relying on glorious nature and the beauty of the surrounding Alpine-type backdrop, they developed a tourism strategy and remodeled the hamlet as the very illusion of Bavaria in the middle of Washington state. The sign at the entrance to town says “Wilkommen in Leadenworth,” and yes, the locals wear Lederhosen and in the summer, Plattlerhosen, which are Bermuda-shorts length.


The picturesque rooftops of the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, and its lovely mountain backdrop. Photo courtesy of

In addition to the complete renovation of the downtown area as a Bavarian village, the town began a series of festivals: the Autumn Leaf Festival, Oktoberfest, Christmas Lighting Ceremony and Maifest. It worked: Today, more than a million tourists come to Leavenworth each year for outdoor sports, wineries, gardens and cultural events.

The luckiest visitors find gold in the hills—not, perhaps, as some of the earliest visitors sought, but in the form of the Schocolat Fine Handmade Chocolates shop. It’s located in the historic Edelweiss Building, where bonbons are handmade daily by Susan Johnson, a pastry chef with many years of experience in California—and a whole lot of talent, taste and well-honed skill as a chocolatier. The image of Alpine maidens with beribboned braids and aprons, waving from horse-drawn carriages that pass by the shop—or the friendly men sporting their Traditioneller Trachtenhut (the traditional hat with the feather) and lederhosen—does not compute with these sophisticated chocolate jewels. But the scenery is so gorgeous that the thing to do is to purchase a box, head for the nearest spectacular view (there seem to be many) and nibble away.

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