If you want to view paradise; Chocolations

Maria Valente, Chocolations owner and passionate chocolatier.

Maria Valente, Chocolations owner and passionate chocolatier.

You know you’re in for a treat as soon as you open the door at 607 E. Boston Post Road. Churning out about 50 pounds of chocolate daily on average, Chocolations turns passersby into customers with just a quick whiff of the homemade confections inside. The aroma alone captured my heart.

Known across Westchester for award-winning truffles, Chocolations boasts a large selection of products, 95 percent of which are made in the back of the store. Chocolates come in all shapes and sizes, wrapped in cellophane or boxed, and are fully customizable to customer specifications.

This visit, seasonal chocolates included large ties for Father’s Day, a plethora of gifts for teachers and graduations, and flip-flop shaped pops for this summer.

Chocolate covered caramel apples are perfect end-of-year teacher gifts.

Chocolate covered caramel apples are perfect end-of-year teacher gifts.

Whether commemorating a special occasion or stopping in for a tasty snack, you cannot possibly emerge from Chocolations empty-handed. The store is very cognizant of those with dietary restrictions of all kinds and truly has something for everyone. The store’s allergy-free chocolates are among the few items not made on the premises—these are actually crafted by a former Chocolations intern in a different facility—but they’re nearly identical to the store’s regular chocolates.

 

 

Owner Maria Valente was baking apricot squares in the back when I stopped by. While I was unable to stick around long enough to sample her fresh treats, I did taste and thoroughly enjoy every morsel of Valente’s famed dark chocolate truffles, dark chocolate Oreo bark and milk chocolate caramels. I brought home several samples of other, equally noteworthy goodies as well, including a piece that I
likened to a fancier, yummier Snickers bar.

Milk chocolate and potato chip bark is a newer offering that nicely fuses sweet and savory flavors together. Valente prides herself on keeping up with, and even staying ahead of, trends in the industry as reflected in this crispy creation. She is very passionate about a 72 percent dark chocolate that she has been toying with recently as it is considerably healthier than the average dark chocolate and drastically less bitter. You can find it
incorporated into various bars and truffles throughout her store that have quickly grown immensely popular.

Each day, Valente works with her team of seven employees to realize her lifelong dream. Almost 30 years ago, she began making chocolate in her home strictly as a hobby when her children were young. Valente shared her homemade, seasonal chocolates with family and friends and began selling them at the school in which her sister worked—and subsequently, at a school where she worked herself.

In the meantime, Valente attended law school and worked both in real estate and in computers, only to come to the conclusion that chocolate was her true passion and calling.

With a little money and a whole lot of nerve, Valente opened Chocolations in 2007. At that time, Chocolations was a small shop on Mamaroneck Avenue where she would remain for three years. In 2010, with the help of her friend and business partner Hank Pomponio, Valente moved Chocolations to its larger, current location on Boston Post Road.

With this physical growth came the natural expansion of inventory. Predictably packed during December, Chocolations saw less business during summer months. Valente realized chocolate is not the quintessential July or August snack and began serving Longford’s ice cream and frozen yogurt at her store. More recently, her team has implemented a lunch menu, from which patrons can enjoy dishes like salads and quiches in comfortable, chocolate-colored armchairs.

Chocolations round two has the capacity to host special events. Popular are children’s birthday parties, at which attendees make their own candy bars, enjoy frozen yogurt or pizza, and decorate cupcakes. The latter entails a lot more than frosting and sprinkles—cupcakes are usually designed using pastry bags to look like dogs, flowers or whatever the child’s heart desires.

There are also both private chocolate-making and continuing education classes regularly available at Chocolations, open to people of all ages. A weekly English-style afternoon tea takes place at Chocolations on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. via a partnership with Lola’s Tea House. Reservations are required for pairs wishing to take advantage of this special menu of scones, tea sandwiches, salad, chocolate and, of course, tea.

Understandably most proud of her truffles, which come in a wide variety of seasonal flavors, Valente revealed the strangest custom order she’s ever filled, a replica of a man’s face. This involved constructing a silicon mold for the chocolate and dusting the final face in gold to create a statuesque feel.

Sounds like quite the undertaking, but the ultimate personal gift.
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The preceding is brought to you by SoWeTaste, a division of the Southern
Westchester Food & Wine Festival. Join SOWE from Sept. 19 to 21 for
a unique culinary celebration featuring the
tri-state area’s finest eats.

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Seventy-two percent chocolate content makes for a healthier truffle.

Seventy-two percent chocolate content makes for a healthier truffle.