Hudson Valley Mountain Range bar by Francisco Migoya, Master Chocolatier for Hudson Chocolates in Poughkeepsie. Photo: Hudson Chocolates.
Ah, winter. Filled with long, frigid nights that lead into short, windy days. Barring a one-way, all-expenses-paid jaunt to Aruba, we’re stuck here for the long, grey haul.
If you’d rather have a root canal than frolic outdoors in the snow, don’t despair. We’ve found that nibbling and guzzling chocolate in all forms has helped adjust our ‘tude. So we undertook the difficult task of venturing around the Hudson Valley, sampling every manner of edible and quaffable chocolate. Below, take a taste of our findings and start drooling over the best of the best Hudson Valley chocolate.
The Alternative Baker | Rosendale
THE Dish: The Chocolate Truffle Torte (Gluten-Free!)
The Alternative Baker is a hippie daydream realized: no bleached or bromated (chemically-treated) flours; fresh, local and organic products; baked-from-scratch items; careful labels (gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, etc.), and — perhaps more importantly on this particular journey — absolutely delicious, handmade products (no neon fondant cake here). Their hot chocolates, cookies, pies and cakes are all lovingly made by a sunny staff that appears as happy to serve you as you are delighted to sample their wares. The real winner is their gluten-free Chocolate Truffle Torte — a Belgian flourless chocolate cake swaddled in the perfect layer (not too thick!) of gorgeously textured ganache that is deeply intense, supremely adult and fabulously rich. Yes, the flourless chocolate cake is a culinary trope at this point, but the Alternative Baker’s version will remind you of why it became such a cliché.
407 Main Street, Rosendale. (845) 658-3355. Monday, Sunday 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday 7:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Café | Tannersville
THE Dish: Boozy Hot Chocolate
Three words: Boozy. Hot. Chocolate. Wonderful winter indulgences, and all in one cup! Last Chance is part-restaurant, part-antiques store, part-gourmet foods shop. Stop in for a chic table lamp and stay for their 300 beers, 100 imported cheeses and fabulous country menu (from quiche to St. Louis ribs). Make sure you sample their famous Butternut Schnapps-spiked hot chocolate, which somehow manages to hit the sweet spot without being cloying, like a liquefied Werther’s candy with a bracing backbone of dark chocolate and the mellow, creamy smoothness that can only come with high-fat dairy.
6009 Main Street, Tannersville. (518) 589-6424. Friday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Tivoli Bread and Baking | Tivoli
THE Dish: Chocolate Brioche
Much like holiday cheer, chocolate brioche is often better in concept than it is in reality, but Tivoli’s take on this dish delivers on the buttery, yeasty, eggy and, most of all — chocolatey — promise of its name. All of Tivoli’s breads and goodies taste like the idyll of home: warm, inviting, comforting, minus the passive-aggressive commentary. Grab a few pain au chocolats and baguettes on your way out the door.
75 Broadway, Tivoli. (845) 757-2253. Wednesday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 6:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
The Arch | Brewster
THE Dish: The Chocolate Soufflé
Few edible items have the potential to create such a conundrum. Soufflés are comprised of little more than separated eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate, so it follows that they should be a snap to make. But there’s a wizardry required in the whipping and an executioner’s mercilessness required in the timing for which few have the patience or skill. The Arch Restaurant in Brewster, an unabashedly old-fashioned gourmet French institution, is the exception to the rule. Their chocolate soufflé towers grandly above its ramekin and crumples only slightly when a waiter delivers the final touch: a glorious cascade of insanely abundant, opulent chocolate sauce, right in the middle. Consider hitting it for a leisurely weekend brunch — their prix fixe isn’t cheap, but it’s a bargain considering the four-star, white glove, supremely sophisticated authentic haute French cuisine on offer. Pro Tip: Don’t wear jeans.
1292 Route 22, Brewster. (845) 279-5011. Wednesday-Friday, 12:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; Saturday 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; Sunday 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Hudson Chocolates | Poughkeepsie
THE Dish: Everything. These is the All-Around MVP.
When a former pastry chef of California’s famed French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery decided to open his own shop in the Hudson Valley a few years ago, the entire culinary cognoscenti went into Pavlovian response mode. Master chocolatier Francisco Migoya did not disappoint his legion of drooling fans: Hudson Chocolate’s bon bons, bars, and truffles are as beautifully crafted as they are decadently and sublimely delicious. He offers an enchanting mix of adult and playful flavors, from Japanese Yuzu, elderflower and feuilletine to corn nuts, malted milk and peanut butter on toast-flavored truffles. Migoya’s creations are more than the sum of their parts though: they represent the entire Hudson Valley’s modus operandi, using only local dairy products and seasonal, local ingredients whenever possible and some (like their Hudson Valley Mountain Range bar) are even sculpted to evoke the landscape of the region itself. “I wanted the name to give it a sense of place and belonging in this area, that is inspired by its beauty not only in nature but in its art and its history,” Migoya said by email, referencing nearby Storm King, DIA Beacon, and Opus 40. “So there’s a sense of terroir, of where we are from. That’s not only because of the produce or harvest of the region; I wanted that reflected in the actual design of the company: the name, the logo, the packaging and the chocolate themselves.”
211 Cottage Street, Poughkeepsie. Saturday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
Feeling better already? We thought you would.
If you don’t want to brave the cold, try whipping up Francisco Migoya’s recipe for spreadable chocolate, delicious on grilled or room-temperature bread (ideally, a baguette from Tivoli).
Hudson Chocolate’s Chocolate and Olive Oil Spread
Yield: 1 450g jar
75 g Olive Oil
75 g heavy cream
150 g Dark Chocolate, chopped
150 g Milk Chocolate, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
1. Combine the olive oil and heavy cream and bring to a boil.
2. Pour over both chocolates in a bowl and stir with a rubber spatula, stirring in a circular motion to melt the chocolate.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, pour the mixture into two glass jars. Put a lid on the jars and allow to harden at room temperature for 24 hours.
4. To serve, spread on a good slice of bread and sprinkle coarse sea salt over the spread to taste.
(Keeps at room temperature up to two weeks).