Aztec Hot Chocolate
Over Heels for Chocolate
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, vinegaryou
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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
Fine Treats and Chocolate
484 Broome St., Ground Floor
New York, NY 10013