Santa Fe is blessed with a variety of sweet choices in the world of chocolate. We have Chocolate Maven in midtown, Sweet Santa Fe at the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe, and Señor Murphy, with multiple locations around town. There’s even an elegant women’s store near the plaza, called Chocolate & Cashmere, that sells two things — yes, chocolate and cashmere!
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I thought I’d focus on a pair of places that I love to visit for their deep dark versions of the purported aphrodisiac. Just stopping in at either The Chocolate Smith or Kakawa Chocolate House puts me in a great mood. There’s plenty to buy for significant others in your life, with dozens of heart boxes, bags, and other fun packaging to tuck the treasures into. It’s easy to select any price point to tell someone you care about them. If you lack a certain someone in your life right now, you can choose to treat yourself. In fact, The Chocolate Smith even has a box tagged “Fall in Love with Yourself.” It could be the best advice ever!
THE CHOCOLATE SMITH
The Chocolate Smith is on Cerrillos Road across from the Railyard Park. Kari and Jeff Keenan created this take-out shop that has a vaguely vintage feel. They specialize in a proprietary blend of two Guittard dark chocolates. I particularly like the red and green chile barks here. The green comes plain or in a version topped with dried cranberries to make it especially festive. Try some of the white chocolate and lavender bark too, an inspired combination.
I find it hard to resist the piñon caramels, or the peanut butter bars bathed in dark chocolate with a silky peanut butter ganache center. One of the treasures here is the dark chocolate sauce. You’ll find doily-topped Mason jars of it inside a 1950s-era refrigerator in a corner of the store. I buy this regularly, always planning to use it to top ice cream or pound cake, or maybe to dunk strawberries. However, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten farther than eating it by the spoonful straight out of the fridge. Speaking of strawberries, for the holiday, the staff will be slathering big plump berries with chocolate, to pick up between February 11 and 14.
If milk chocolate is your deal, The Chocolate Smith offers some charmingly packaged milk chocolate fondue that you simply heat up to enjoy. By the way, the Keenans own Whoo’s Donuts next door, so you might want to pick up a few of those tasty specialties on your way out too.
KAKAWA CHOCOLATE HOUSE
Another couple, Bonnie and Tony Bennett, operates Kakawa Chocolate House, a charming adobe along Paseo de Peralta. (Two branches are mentioned below, as well.) Their truffles come in classic flavors and in more exotic combinations like mezcal, or prickly pear, or goat cheese with sage. Little chocolate disks called mediants are an option, along with the most sensuous “peppermint patties” I’ve ever found. The caramels are a deeply flavored buttery indulgence too.
Perhaps even more special here are the chocolate elixirs. Some are based on recipes from Mesoamerica, where chocolate was first consumed as a beverage. Others use later European formulas, the kind of blends that Thomas Jefferson or perhaps Marie Antoinette might have enjoyed. In either case, you can find out the full backstory on each blend.
Sweetened lightly with coconut sugar, and sometimes scented with chile, mixed spices, or even rose petals, these are hot chocolates of the highest order. The elixirs can be enjoyed on site, served up in striking cobalt and white Mexican ceramics, at one of a handful of Mexican equipale tables and chairs. The elixirs are also packaged, to take home, if you prefer.
Kakawa Chocolate House is also involved with a special V-Day event at Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits. “Champagne & Truffles” takes place Monday, February 13, at 5 p.m. You’ll need a reservation for this intimate seminar on sparkling wine accompanied by a pair of Kakawa chocolate truffles. Call Susan’s at 505-984-1582 for details.
Wishing you a passionate week ahead.
The Chocolate Smith
851B Cerrillos Road
Kakawa Chocolate House
1050 Paseo de Peralta (Flagship)
851 West San Mateo
1300 Rufina #A4 (around the curve from Meow Wolf)
Story by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.