The Ten: Best Chocolatiers

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been getting in the Halloween spirit by fantasizing about what treats we’d be scoring for the big night. The more we thought about it though, the more we realized that we didn’t want to share our sweets. Instead, we loaded up on haute chocolates, turned off the front porch light, and watched all the Friday the 13th movies back-to-back. These spots were where we stocked up for our no-holds-barred choco-binge.

Fleurir

Chocolatier Robert Ludlow and his wife Ashley Hubbard’s Georgetown boutique (a second location opens soon in Alexandria) is both tasteful and tasty. Though we can’t resist the Elvis-evoking peanut butter-banana chocolate confection, we’re really a sucker for the regional chocolate bars. Our personal favorite is the Northeast, which is shot through with shards of maple pecan toffee.

SPAGnVOLA

At this Gaithersburg gem, chocolatier Crisoire Reid turn out 1,000 truffles a day made with beans from her home country, the Dominican Republic. The passion fruit packs a sweet punch that’s equally fruity and floral – a perfect reminder of Caribbean getaways. A chocolate-pistachio core is rolled in pale green pistachio dust to create a nutty sensation. And the Passion of the Sea truffle coats a 54% milk chocolate ganache with a 70% dark chocolate shell, then dapples it with hearty crystals of Mediterranean sea salt.

Artisan Confections

Right now, we’re totally loving chocolatier Jason Andelman’s salted butterscotch that infuses a milk chocolate-caramel ganache with single malt Scotch and salted butter. Honestly though, any of the beautifully arted treats at this Arlington standout are sure to make your day.

The Perfect Truffle

This Frederick favorite features lots of classic flavors alongside a few you might not expect, like blueberry balsamic, Old Bay caramel, and cayenne pepper. We’re especially fond of their chocolately collaborations with nearby Flying Dog Brewery, which include the Gonzo truffle spiked with Imperial Porter.

Cocova

Wedged between Dupont Circle and AdMo, this shop was formerly known as Biago Fine Chocolate. Despite the name change, it still stocks a globe-spanning selection of bars, truffles, and treats. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, there are usually plenty of free samples on hand to help guide your decision.

Find out the other five top chocolatiers by clicking over to CityEats’ Plate blog now.

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Cocoa Rebels: SPAGnVOLA Transforms Dominican Chocolate into a Stateside Treat

“Of course I love chocolates,” says SPAGnVOLA’s co-owner and head chocolatier, Crisoire Reid, as she brings some heavy cream to a boil.

“Doesn’t everybody?”

She has just begun making a batch of her signature rosemary-olive-oil truffles in the kitchen downstairs from the booming bonbon boutique that she and her husband, co-owner Eric Reid, opened last year in Gaithersburg.

Racks of finished treats line one side of SPAGnVOLA (pronounced “spang-vola”), cacao-pod outlines are painted on the floor, and the rich scent of chocolate fills the air. Over the course of an average week, this hardworking Montgomery County confectioner might make 6,000-7,000 truffles, though she cranked out almost 60,000 last December in order to keep up with holiday demand.

Adding a sprig of fresh rosemary to the bubbling pot, Crisoire begins stirring slowly to help the flavor evenly infuse the cream.

“One day, I was at the grocery store and I smelled the rosemary,” she explains. “I immediately thought, ‘Oh, my god, maybe I can work this flavor into a chocolate,’ though you don’t expect to find that flavor in something sweet.”

A few minutes later, she strains out the herb and adds in a mound of hand-shaved chocolate, which turns the mixture a lustrous mahogany.

Finish reading this article on the Maryland Life website now.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Helfert, Maryland Life.

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