The Chocolate Wars
It’s no secret that Chowder bloggers are a little nutso about chocolate, whether it’s in bar, cookie, or even vegan cupcake form. So we all said a little “hallelujah!” when pastry chef Lee Napoli opened Chocolee in the South End. I shed more than a few tears of joy, and probably drooled a little, too.
And then Aroa opened. And then I kind of lost it.
Aroa, you see, is the brainchild of one Alejandro “Alex” Luna, and he’s about as crazy for cacao as we are. His adorable new shop on Washington Street boasts a glassed-in kitchen, where you can see chefs churning out tray after tray of truffles, plus petite French pastries like financiers and madeleines.
Determined to sniff out the best truffles in town, I decided to pit the two shops head-to-head in a chocolate-tasting battle. At Chocolee, I stocked up on Dulce de Leche, Bourbon Cherry & Honey, Salted Caramel, Pistachio & Lemon Curd, and Toasted Sesame & Caramel truffles, plus a few Pistachio and Salted Caramel macarons for good measure. (Yes, I like caramel, too.) At Aroa, I filled a box with Earl Grey, Mexican Vanilla, Ginger, Pineapple Pepper, and Hazelnut confections, plus a few more macarons. Needless to say, I’ve been riding a sugar high for several days now, and boy, does it feel good.
The verdict: While I was hoping one shop would emerge a clear winner, the two shops’ offerings were just so different. Chocolee’s truffles were big and sweet, their flavorings bold and pronounced. Aroa’s treats were small, the ingredients more elegant and subtle. If these chocolates were purses, Chocolee would be a big LV monogram tote, Aroa an understated Bottega Veneta clutch.
In other words, I’ll take whichever one I can get.
Aroa Fine Chocolate, 1651 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-4988.