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Best Chocolate Store: Sinful extravagance with cacao bars aplenty 

Bittersweet Cafe

The mini-reviews grace little cards accompanying each product: "Complex: light astringency and a deep finish," one reads. "Delicate scents merge into lovely citrus and light vanilla flavors with a sweet finish," another promises. Fine wines? Nah. This is the age of ultra-high-end chocolate. You won't find Hershey, Nestle, or even Lindt amid the 130-plus bars on display at Bittersweet. In fact, if the label doesn't feature things like cacao/sugar ratio, clone variety, and provenance, you're unlikely to see it here. These connoisseurs scan the globe for seldom-seen brands. Alongside the more common Guittards, Dagobas, and Scharffen Bergers, you'll find a bar from the Grenada Chocolate Company (organic, fair trade, 71 percent trinitario); Valrhona's new Ampamakia (whose cacao derives from a single plantation in Madagascar); several hard-to-find bars from Chocolat Bonnat and Pralus, both French; the fair-trade, vegan Casa Don Puglisi bars exquisitely handwrapped in brown paper with red twine by Sicilians; and a pricey ($11.50) 56 percent forestero bar from the Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, the only US company that grows its own. In addition to this sinful selection, Bittersweet is noteworthy for its handmade bonbons, quiet morning vibe, worn plank floors, simple farm tables, and rustic color palette of reds, yellows, and oranges. Try one of its crisp, buttery house-made croissants with a mug of pure-chocolate mocha (no added sugar), or any of the cafe's five other hot chocolate drinks. It's all Wonka-worthy.

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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