The Ultimate Guide to Boston Chocolate
Where to find the tastiest bites of cookies, cake, mousse, and more. Because you can never have enough of that decadent sweetness.
Vanilla Bean–Dark Chocolate Mousse at Zuzu’s Petals
Cell phone use isn’t allowed inside this intimate wine and dessert café in Inman Square—all the better for savoring the menu’s impossibly rich chocolate mousse. Tahitian vanilla beans are steeped into the mousse, adding extra depth of flavor, and the serving vessel—a precious vintage teacup—completes the gloriously analog experience.
B3 Ice Cream at Toscanini’s
When B3, the current most popular flavor at this Cambridge ice cream shop, was created, the name came first, explains founder Gus Rancatore. After failing to come up with a logical flavor named after C-4, the plastic explosive “in almost every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie,” the team moved to a different letter and number, and chief ice cream maker Kevin Rafferty came up with the legendary brown butter, brown sugar, and brownies combo. The chocolate content is subtler than other entries in this guide, but the interplay between the brownies and the other ingredients yields a mellow, almost nutty combination.
Twisted Love at Jonquils Café & Bakery
The hallmark of this cozy Newbury Street destination is extremely photogenic desserts that take on distinctive shapes thanks to intricate 3D-printed molds. For those seeking chocolate, the best bet is Twisted Love, a whimsical red squiggle that somehow contains chocolate sponge cake, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate crunch, and raspberry coulis.
Back Bay, jonquilscafe.com.
Dark Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies at Levain Bakery
It’s not surprising that Bostonians eagerly greeted this New York City import when it arrived on Newbury Street a year ago: After all, its gigantic, heavenly cookies have a reputation that transcends state lines. Chocolate lovers will adore the sheer amount of cacao in the dark chocolate–chocolate chip cookies, but the peanut-butter-chip version is equally tasty.
Back Bay, levainbakery.com.
Chocolate Cake at Grill 23 & Bar
The coconut cake is a perennially popular after-dinner pick (for good reason!) at this classic steakhouse, but the chocolate cake is equally deserving of attention. The details change seasonally—peppermint candy garnishes and a semisweet chocolate crémeux filling in the winter, for example, or a September version with marmalade made of Florida grapefruits and Earl Grey crème anglaise. Any way it’s presented, the layer cake is always a winner.
Back Bay, grill23.com.
Chocolate Mousse Cannoli at Mike’s Pastry
Purists who always order the ricotta-filled cannoli at this decades-old shop, look the other way. Everyone else: This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to add the chocolate-mousse-filled variety to your blue-and-white box. Dipped in chocolate and garnished with ample mini chocolate chips, it’s a decadent spin on tradition.
North End, mikespastry.com.
Chocolate Cake at La Saison Bakery
The first iteration of La Saison was a high-end bakery in Tehran, Iran, and founder Soheil Fathi’s chocolatier roots combine with outstanding baking at the Cambridge incarnation of the brand. Known succinctly as “the chocolate cake,” the tiny bakery’s most delightful dessert is garnished simply with a sprig of flowers and a bit of gold flake, with rich layers of Belgian chocolate cream and chocolate soufflé cake hidden inside.
Chocolate Babka at Bakey
Want to be the hero of your next family gathering? Show up with this hefty 2-foot babka loaf showcasing a generous swirl of melty chocolate twisting throughout the buttery dough. Bakey cofounder Uri Scheft’s name has practically been synonymous with chocolate babka for more than two decades—it was the star of Breads Bakery in New York, which he cofounded and formerly owned—and it’s just as irresistible at his recently opened Boston shop.
Chocolate-Bourbon-Pecan Pie at Petsi Pies
It’s hard to pick a favorite pie at this beloved Somerville shop, but the chocolate-bourbon-pecan variety is always a crowd-pleaser, amping up all that’s great about regular pecan pie with bittersweet chocolate filling and chocolate ganache. A bonus option: the Mississippi mud pie, which piles Belgian chocolate, brownie streusel, and chocolate glaze into a chocolate cookie crust.
Chocolate Soufflé at No. 9 Park
The details change over time, but whether it’s made with Manjari 64 percent or Araguani 72 percent chocolate, whether it’s topped with cardamom crème anglaise or a neat quenelle of brandy ice cream, the airy chocolate soufflé at Barbara Lynch’s Beacon Hill flagship is a must. Sit at the bar on a winter evening and enjoy it with the snow-day-only Tom & Jerry, a comforting hot cocktail.
Beacon Hill, no9park.com.
Double Chocolate–Hot Honey Cookies at Nine Winters
Currently popping up at Bow Market, this Korean-American bakery packs unexpected flavor combinations into delectable cookies, cake slices, and other treats. Case in point: The double chocolate–hot honey cookie yields the perfect combination of heat and sweet, featuring chocolate dough and milk-chocolate chips fired up with a housemade hot honey that’s infused with the Korean chili paste gochujang and Korean chili powder gochugaru. Pro tip: Pair it with a rich hot chocolate from Bow Market neighbor Gâté Comme Des Filles.
DIY Brownie Sundae at Picco
The name of this South End mainstay is an acronym for Pizza & Ice Cream Co.; you’ll want to try both, but we’re here to discuss chocolate. A sundae here is a choose-your-own-adventure affair, but we recommend the ultimate chocolate lover’s combination—chocolate ice cream or sorbet with a brownie, chocolate sauce, and chocolate sprinkles, and perhaps some whipped cream for a touch of lightness.
South End, piccoboston.com.
Drink Your Dessert
The powdered stuff with little marshmallows has nothing on these rich, decadent cups of hot chocolate.
The incredibly popular drinking chocolate at L.A. Burdick may be the thickest, richest hot chocolate you’ve ever had. Choose among white, milk, or spicy dark (our favorite). A whipped-cream topping is definitely recommended.
Back Bay and Cambridge, burdickchocolate.com.
Sofra Bakery & Café
This Cambridge favorite features hot chocolate in the colder months, infused with a Middle Eastern–inspired flavor that changes every now and then. Most recently, it was an indulgent halvah; a past pick was tahini, which was also featured in the Sofra cookbook, Soframiz.
Come for the nuts, fruits, and chocolate; stay for the seasonal hot-chocolate specials, such as a cozy gingerbread hot chocolate in the winter or dulce de leche iced “hot” chocolate in the summer.
There’s nothing better than sipping a creamy hot chocolate in this Old-World North End café. Okay, maybe one thing is better: boozing it up with chocolate liqueur and Baileys or hazelnut liqueur, Kahlúa, and brandy.
North End, caffevittoria.com.
Outside the Box
Where to find Boston’s best bonbons, bars, and other treats.
Gâté Comme Des Filles
Founder Alexandra Whisnant’s boxes of bonbons are stunning, both to look at and to eat, thanks to an everything-from-scratch process that makes use of fresh, seasonal fillings and flavors, hand-whipped ganaches, and beautiful packaging. Varieties range from vanilla bean to foraged Meyer lemon and beyond.
Caramelized-peanut-butter cups; boxes full of delicate, colorful bonbons; crunchy, spicy bars packed with nuts, caramel, and pretzels; chocolate-dipped, crystallized ginger: This local chocolatier has something for every appetite, not to mention treats for every holiday.
These glossy, jewel-toned chocolate bonbons are works of edible art, with flavors like cinnamon bun, raspberry lemonade, and dulce de leche latte. But don’t miss ChocAllure’s other confections, like caramelized-milk-chocolate bars studded with crunchy caramel pearls.
Choose from boxes of artsy bonbons (flavors like hazelnut latte and passionfruit), cookie-butter chocolate bars, crunchy dark-chocolate “snacking pearls,” and more. Better yet, sign up for the Chocolate Club for a monthly box of fun new bonbon flavors delivered right to your door.
First published in the print edition of the February 2023 issue, with the headline “Death by Chocolate.”