New Yorkers might be known for having a sour disposition (hey, you try getting to work on time with all the tourists crowding your commute!), but they have a major weakness for the saccharine. Especially in the summer, when steamy temperatures and long days of gazing wistfully out office windows give us the urge to reward ourselves for another day at the grind. And while other places might just resort to the traditional favorites (chocolate, ice cream, etc.), New Yorkers have never been the type to see something different and say, “eh… why try something new?” So for those seeking sweets with a modern-day twist, read on for our suggestions in the Big Apple this sunny season!
Chocolate – it’s not just a seasonal craving. While the origins of it can be traced back to Aztec culture and then to Europe, it has become a major part of the New York foodie experience. We’ve fallen in love with MarieBelle, an elegant shop and café in Soho that is guaranteed to bring out your inner dreamer. The idea for her art came to Mariebelle Libermann 16 years ago. Passionate about gourmet food and fashion, the native Honduran entrepreneur joined the two visions and created a whole new idea behind luxury chocolate: a new trend of using colorful designs on ganache. At MarieBelle, the signature chocolates are topped with colorful designs, silhouetted figures, letters, and bright colors. Each piece is like a mini painting, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘edible art!’ The chocolates come is 37 classic and seasonal flavors. The most popular classic flavors include espresso, passion fruit and pistachio (my favorite!). As far as seasonal specials go, cheesecake, guava, and rose petal are trending. All the ingredients are organic and minimally processed, with not a drop of artificial flavoring! Mariebelle herself has no tolerance for anything artificial.
Another big success at the shop is their hot chocolate. They take pride in their assortment and quality, being the first shop to introduce chocolate like this in the US. You can order their hot chocolate in either the European (made with water) or American (with milk) variations. For the adventurous chocolate-lovers, the spicy hot chocolate infused with cinnamon and chipotle chile is a must. I went for their classic standout – the velvety Aztec dark hot chocolate, made from 65% pure cacao. It’s fragrant, not too sweet, and has a luxurious, silky texture. A word of caution- this hot chocolate is so pure and minimally-processed, it felt like I had had a double-espresso! The cocoa beans are imported from Ecuador and Honduras, and the transfers for the ganache designs are prepared in France – everything else is produced in New York. Luxury chocolate is a combination of design, packaging, and (most importantly) quality ingredients. At MarieBelle, you can be a real New Yorker and have it all!
Ice Cream – Is there anything that screams summer more than ice cream? Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream was born in the spring of 2008, out of a yellow truck on the streets of New York with Laura O’Neil, and Ben & Pete Van Leeuwen. Their goal was to revive traditional ice-cream making, using natural ingredients without compromising on taste or quality. Their ice cream celebrates the best artisan producers and farmers, and is made from scratch with the freshest ingredients right in Brooklyn. According to Laura, “Ben and Pete had driven ice cream trucks in the suburbs during college, but were never excited about the kind of ice creams that were sold. Right before Ben graduated, he was in Manhattan and found himself standing in front of a Mister Softee truck, thinking “why aren’t there any great ice-cream trucks?” Ben called me when I was still in Australia (we had met in London and I was planning on moving over to Brooklyn) and said, “I think when you get here we should start an ice-cream truck business!”
The three of them set out to write a business plan and came up with recipes in the apartment they shared in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. When they hit the streets for the first time in SoHo, a line formed and didn’t stop all day! The difference between their product, and everything else on the market? “Most of the other ice cream being made is full of stabilizers and fillers, no one uses truly awesome ingredients. We make our classic ice cream using just milk, cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks, tons of egg yolks!” This dedication to quality and authenticity is what sets Van Leeuwen apart. Adventurous flavors, like their vegan Sicilian pistachio (made with their own cashew milk and organic cane sugar) and Earl Grey tea (infused with organic Rishi) are just another hallmark of excellence and uniqueness. Scoop them up while you can!
Fruit – yes, you read that right! Bear with us. While most people in the States might not consider fruit to be a dessert, they immediately change their minds when it’s covered in chocolate! Introducing the new concept on the artisanal chocolate scene – dried fruit stuffed with nuts, and covered in dark chocolate. It all started in a small kitchen in NYC and was never meant to go beyond being a thoughtful gift for friends and family. We present to you InLOVE Indulgences – they come in 2 options: dried apricots stuffed with almonds, and prunes stuffed with walnuts, both covered in dark chocolate. The combination of fruit and nuts has a personal story and is a childhood favorite for many. We carefully select our dried fruit and use the highest-quality, naturally-sourced dark chocolate. There is no added sugar or preservatives. These handcrafted delights are good for your body and soul.
Hand-dipped and the perfect size for snacking, even the most discriminating palette is in for a treat! And it’s not just the antioxidants in the dark chocolate that will give you a boost; prunes are an unassuming force of nature, which help to balance our blood sugar and improve our absorption of iron (due to their high Vitamin-C content). Apricots are packed with potassium and a great source of dietary fiber, so really, these InLOVE Indulgences are more of a dessert-superfood hybrid than anything else! With the abundance of options above to satisfy your summer cravings, we have to ask… what’s not to love about New York?!
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