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MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate

Head Over Heels for Chocolate

Last month I got hooked on MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate. It happened while I was perusing the never-ending aisles of gourmet goodies (acres of olive oil, tea, cheese, chocolate, vinegar—you name it) at the NASFT Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I was determined to be sensible this year, taste only the tiniest samples be very selective. Nevertheless I was in sugar shock by the end of the first hour on the first day. Good chocolate was everywhere, and lots of it.

On day two my strategy was to avoid chocolate altogether. To be fair, I had burned out on it. Tea seemed like the perfect diversion. There was plenty to sip and so many interesting, new varieties. The only problem was that MarieBelle's Founder and CEO, Maribel Lieberman, was waiting in the shadows of Harney & Sons Fine Teas, armed with steaming samples of her own version for comfort on a cold night. I lingered by Harney's for a second when Maribel appeared, her arm extending a demitasse of steaming hot chocolate. "Try a little of this," she said. "It's MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate. It's delicious. But here's just a small taste because some people find it very rich." Maribel was right on all counts. It was amazing, intense hot chocolate and it was very rich.

First of all, MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate is the real thing. And there is a distinct difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Hot cocoa, the happy fuel of many childhood memories, is a mixture of cocoa powder and, most commonly, sugar and hot milk. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, is real chocolate melted into hot cream (again, milk or even water will do just fine).

MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolates rely on a blend of pure Venezuelan chocolate and highly refined sugar. You'll find no cocoa powder in the mixes, which are packed into beautiful vintage-style tins, in four flavors: Aztec Original, Aztec Dark, Aztec Mocha and Aztec Spicy. It's simple to make, and just as easy to transform your hot drink into chocolate pudding, or iced chocolate or Spicy Hot Chocolate Nightcap Tequila (adults only, please).

Aztec Hot Chocolate may be the headliner but SoHo-based Mariebelle (484 Broome St. near Wooster) custom-makes a luxurious line of handmade filled chocolates. They are jewel-like geometric paintings in palettes of bold colors and geometrics, filled with creams and fruit essences and exotic flavors like cardamom, saffron and Earl Grey tea. You can go over the top and have them presented in handcrafted Italian leather boxes, but the everyday boxes are keepers too. You'll also find chocolate bars in vintage postcard wrappers, hand-blended teas and tea sets, and dessert china.

Visit MarieBelle in person if you can. It's a delicious experience and a beautiful shop: a successful combination of chocolatier and atelier, with that European sensibility we cherish. Don't refuse a taste of anything. Otherwise, pay them a visit on the web at www.mariebelle.com.

You can purchase MarieBelle treats at:

 

MarieBelle Fine Treats and Chocolate
484 Broome St., Ground Floor
New York, NY 10013
212-925-6999


MarieBelle Chocolates

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