With the holidays just right around the corner, I want to introduce you to some amazing locations that offer delicious chocolate desserts, and to their amazing owners & creators here in Charlotte. Whether for corporate gifts or parties, important events, weddings or a perfect gift, these chocolate treats are sure to impress and make a statement.
For 20 Degrees Chocolates owner and chocolatier Casey Hickey, chocolate isn’t just a delicacy- it’s a way of life. Hickey is a perfect example of how it’s never too late to pursue your passion. At 35, Hickey went to pastry school in France and became completely seduced by chocolate’s intricacies. To her, chocolate is like a complex and mysterious man with a personality of its own- fascinating, frustrating, exciting, versatile and delicious.
All of this is noticeable in her flavors, which are inspired by movies, music, pop culture, Hickey’s travels and more. Perhaps you’d like to try the African Queen, which contains 85 percent African origin ingredients. For southern lovers the Steel Magnolia bon bon is a hit and the French Roast truffle is an item that Hickey said she could eat day-in and day-out. As for unique flavors, you’re in for a treat (pun intended) if you’d like to try some of the funkier options like a Japanese Matcha Tea or a lemongrass truffle called Serenity Now.
Another great thing about 20 Degrees Chocolates is that it’s one of the many restaurants in Charlotte that uses locally sourced ingredients. Several of the fruits used in some of Hickey’s confections are from farms right in Charlotte or Fort Mill, SC, and it’s not rare to see Hickey and fellow chocolatier Pierce picking the berries themselves. The final product tells the story of many hours of work and getting things just right. The Sorghum-Bourbon Caramel Sauce takes two full hours of stirring for a single batch. 20 Degrees Chocolates believes it’s worth it to go to these lengths to ensure the absolute best tasting product imaginable. 20 Degrees Chocolates also has a more European flair about it, in respect to both taste and ingredients which is a nod to Hickey’s formal training and her husband’s heritage. Located within Petit Philippe off Selwyn.
If you’re bar hopping uptown, you should definitely stop in at barCHOCOLATE. Not for a shot of vodka, but for a shot of cocoa in the form of a bon bon. They say great things are born out of struggle, and well, if not for co-owner Lin McKay’s frisbee injury, he and partner Mike Shafer may have never left their desk jobs for the chocolatier life.
Whilst on the couch nursing the injury, McKay saw an inspiring episode of Anthony Bourdain No Reservations in which famous chocolate confectioner Enric Rovira was crafting his signature egg sculpture. You can chalk it up to the egg, but it was then that an idea was hatched. Founded in 2011, barCHOCOLATE prides itself on being a luxury artisanal chocolate confectionary that strives to create visually stunning bon bons with complex and balanced flavors. Available at its location on 7th Street, small handcrafted batches are also available at fine retail outlets around Charlotte like Dean & Deluca Phillips Place and at 7th Street Market. Everything is made by hand with natural and/or whole food products – no flavorings, extracts, unpronounceable artificial preservatives, or additives. Local ingredients are sourced whenever possible. Chocolates are single origin, unblended types. Basically, barCHOCOLATE is high quality and unparalleled without being exclusive.
Stop in for unique flavors like Ghost Chili Sea Salt Caramel, Coriander Pop Rocks Praline, Rosemary Lemon Caramel, or Black Cherry Balsamic with Griotte Cherry Confit.
Jossie Perlmutter likes to have her cake and eat it too. The young French trained pastry chef launched her dessert business Sweet Affairs in August 2015 after moving to the Queen City the year prior, and as her website states, “quickly gained popularity as one of the premier talents in the (local) culinary scene.”
Jossie saw a need for catered desserts that are not just traditional cakes and pastries and she is definitely filling that void. She offers unique and elegant dessert spreads for any type of event or celebration. Gone are the days of boring cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Perlmutter customizes the desserts to suit the event she is catering. With the help of client input, Perlmutter aims to understand the look and feel of each specific event and integrate that into the design and flavors. A favorite combination of Perlmutter’s? Dark chocolate and hazelnut. Another secret and maybe underrated ingredient she believes is white chocolate. She uses white chocolate as a base for many mousses and caramelizes it to achieve a nutty quality.
Not only does Perlmutter whip up tasty concoctions for Sweet Affairs, but she also rolls up her sleeves and ties up her apron strings as pastry chef at The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel. She has loved the culinary scene here in Charlotte and is even more excited to give us a unique experience with her talents. Let me just say from personal experience, try her chocolate on chocolate cake (dessert coma).
What’s so secret about The Secret Chocolatier? Apparently, how to stop yourself from eating the entire box of truffles. “Chocolate concierge”, Robin Ciordia says they pride themselves on listening to customer needs and providing the right selection of decadent concoctions. The Secret Chocolatier is the epitome of a grassroots, family-owned business. After Ciordia’s father, Chef Bill Dietz’, restaurant closed uptown for construction, the family needed a way to generate income. With his 30 plus years of experience as a pastry chef, Dietz began bringing a few truffles and brownies to local weekend farmer’s markets. The following that ensued surprised the family. With such popularity and demand, the leap to open a store was inevitable.
The first location at Providence and Sharon Amity opened in 2011, and in 2013 a second location was ready for business in Ballantyne. Sea Salt Butter Toffee is a big seller and a staff favorite is their Chocolate Enrobed Brownies. Helen Schwab, a restaurant writer, said the truffles are an out-of-body experience, and someone else who unsurprisingly remained anonymous, said that the chocolates were the best thing he’s ever had with his clothes on. Be sure to also check out the Secret Chocolatier’s Chocolate of the Month Club and its calendar of classes and events.