Where to Find the Best Chocolate Desserts in Boston Right Now
Molten cakes made for sharing, cocoa cones filled with chocolate mousse, and more decadent delights.
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It’s hard to deny the power of rich, delectable chocolate. If Proust thought that a bite out of a madeleine could send a person on a nostalgic trip back in time—well, we think that chocolate can do all that and more. Try a spectacular soufflé or sample an elaborate torte, and your taste buds are sure to experience a transportive journey. Where to go to find the finest chocolate desserts of all? Just follow our guide to some of the most imaginative options in Boston, including cakes made for sharing and cocoa cones filled with chocolate mousse for you to devour all by yourself.
You’re sure to be impressed by Finesse Pastries’ modern spin on French-inspired sweets, served from a stall at the Boston Public Market and, in non-pandemic times, a shop in Somerville. (That Spring Hill spot is temporarily closed to retail, but still hosting occasional baking classes.) Finesse’s individual cakes are dainty, exquisitely fashioned delights and feature smooth chocolate flavors. See the Absolute Cake, made from chocolate and hazelnut genoise, a kind of airy sponge cake, and soaked in burnt caramel syrup. There’s also the L’elodie, which has a crunchy dacquoise base (layers of baked nut meringue) topped with three fluffy varieties of chocolate mousse and dusted with cocoa powder. The Mogador, meanwhile, saturates a chocolate and almond cake with raspberry syrup and loads it with a dark chocolate mousse. Bring a box of the miniature gateaux home and admire their beautiful designs, before sharing with family.
100 Hanover St. (Boston Public Market), Boston, 617-764-2793; 594 Somerville Ave, Somerville, 617-764-2793, finessepastries.com.
Flour Bakery + Cafe
Can a bakery like Joanne Chang’s Flour juggernaut ever be upstaged? We doubt it. The James Beard award-winning chef’s desserts surpass the highest standards, and the chocolate delicacies are no exception. Try the Midnight Chocolate cake—a classic devil’s food cake, soaked in coffee syrup and generously layered with milk chocolate buttercream. Then turn your attention to the triple chocolate mousse cake, a flourless cake of bittersweet chocolate with light, creamy levels of whipped mousse, garnished with blueberries. Finally, the hazelnut-almond dacquoise is composed of a crispy meringue with alternating layers of espresso cream and chocolate ganache. To top it off, the pastry is ornately bedecked with toasted nuts.
114 Mt. Auburn St, Cambridge, 617-714-3205, flourbakery.com.
Gâté Comme Des Filles
Within Bow Market in Somerville’s Union Square dwells this French-inspired chocolatier, a small shopfront that is the brainchild of Paris-trained pastry chef Alexandra Whisnant. Its name translates to “spoiled, like girls,” but anyone who enters this chocolate lover’s haven can testify that they have been thoroughly pampered and indulged. In particular, the dark chocolate mousse, served in a cocoa cone, is luxuriously thick and silky texture with a sharp and concentrated, bittersweet bite. You’ll also want to dive into the oozing center of the molten chocolate cake, made with buckwheat flour and served with a side of salted caramel ice cream. Finally, wrap your hand around a cup of Gâté’s hot chocolate with homemade Chantilly cream to get a firm grasp on the inspired whimsy of the store’s creations.
1 Bow Market Way #8, Somerville, 617-764-5872, gatecommedesfilles.fr.
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
Both the Back Bay and Harvard Square locations of this shop and café radiate charm, not to mention fragrant whiffs of the chocolate used for artisan pastries made from natural ingredients and infused with fresh vanilla. The chocolate raspberry cake is a bestseller, made from a subtle, Venezuelan chocolate with undertones of dried fruit and nut; the moist cake is soaked in French raspberries and eau de vie brandy for even more vibrant flavor. We’re also especially smitten with the Earl Grey mousse cake: Here, a checkered sponge cake is wrapped around an interior of white chocolate mousse that has been infused with the aroma of the tea and studded with blueberries. And for a totally playful treat to take home, capture a box (or two) of the chocolate mice, edible critters that contain a variety of ingredients, from orange to espresso to port wine.
220 Clarendon St, Boston, 617-303-0113; 52 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-491-4340, burdickchocolate.com.
The art of baking is exemplified in the masterful approach this chain of high-end “cake boutiques” takes to its chocolate mille crêpes cake. Intricately fashioned with delicate attention to detail, each confection contains twenty paper-thin crepes flavored with imported French cocoa and ornamented with lacy edges. A fine pastry cream is layered in between each sheet, maintaining a gentle balance, and the assembled cake is topped with giant chocolate curls as a finishing touch. While the crêpe is a traditional French pancake, this style of cake was invented in Japan, where Lady M founder Ken Romaniszyn spent part of his youth. It’s a dessert that must be made with focus and control, says Romaniszyn, with each crêpe light enough that you could “hold one up and look through it.”
304 Newbury St, Boston, 617-329-5555, ladym.com.
Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant
This South Boston tavern serves up classic American fare with flair, and their desserts—such as the triple chocolate cheesecake—are particularly noteworthy. The dish starts with a fudgy brownie base, which is topped with a caramel-accented, milk chocolate filling, and then is ultimately garnished with whipped cream, white chocolate ganache, and a drizzling of chocolate sauce. Want to find more fun ideas from the talented pastry team? Stop next door at sister restaurant Capo and try the torta di chocolate. This jet-black layer cake incorporates a mocha buttercream, enhanced with espresso powder from La Colombe, and is served with a homemade Oreo crumble. The concoction arrives standing upright on the plate, with a dramatic profile that is sure to garner attention.
At the sophisticated and modern bistro Mistral, the warm Valrhona chocolate torte is a longtime menu mainstay. Its recipe uses a high-pedigree Satilia dark chocolate with a particularly nuanced profile: beginnings of floral vanilla conjure up notes of bright fruit and raisins, followed by palette-cleansing hints of hazelnut. This is a molten cake, with a creamy, flowing inside, contained within a soft exterior, and it comes served with house-made Madagascar vanilla ice cream. It all receives a classic plating: a light pool of vanilla anglaise, several lines of melted chocolate, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
223 Columbus Ave, Boston, 617-867-9300, mistralbistro.com.
For carefully crafted, handmade bonbons, place an order at Petrova Chocolates, an online-only shop launched in June by Betty Petrova, pastry chef at Uni. Inside each box is a dazzling collection of colorful, painted chocolates, each endowed with a glassy, marbleized gloss. These trinket-like treats look pretty enough to preserve, but you won’t be able to resist the superior quality and creative seasonal flavors: fillings range from strawberry jasmine, to cassis, to Maras chili. Next up? A collection that will be inspired by Petrova’s Bulgarian heritage.