Casting about for something delicious to do for Valentine’s Day in the Hudson Valley? Chocolate has long been a cornerstone of this holiday, but this year why not dispense with the tired box of truffles and instead take your loved one on a chocolate adventure?
Globally renowned confectioner Fruition Chocolate Works' bean-to-bar maker space in Shokan offers rare insight into the alchemy of chocolate making. Known in the international chocolate and dessert community, Fruition consistently wins gold and silver medals in blind tastings. (They’re especially proud of the 2013 Top 10 spot in Dessert Professional magazine and the 2016 Best in Competition from the International Chocolate Awards, but the list of awards is long). With their Shokan location you can go straight to the source and see where the small-batch treats are hand-crafted.
The process starts with organic cocoa beans, sourced transparently and at Fair Trade or Direct Trade prices from Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. When they arrive in the Catskills, the beans are hand-sorted, fresh-roasted, winnowed, refined, conched and tempered to perfection before they’re molded and packaged into treats like Vanilla Bean Toasted White, Hudson Bourbon Dark Milk, and Columbia Tumaco Dark.
The chocolate is available at a growing list of fine retail outlets including Fruition’s Woodstock boutique; you can find a list of stockists on their website or simply order online. But a trip to Shokan, besides being a gorgeous drive through the Catskills, gives you the delicious opportunity to taste multiple varieties and a literal window into how the glorious product is made.
“We’re still relatively new, and we love to share what we do and how we do it,” says Dahlia Graham, co-founder and CEO with chocolate maker Bryan Graham. “The process isn’t suited to full-on factory tours, but we have an observation window, very knowledgeable retail staff who can explain our process, and all sorts of samples you can try.”
Sounds downright seductive.