Oct. 28 is National Chocolate Day, as if we needed another excuse to indulge. Here are our favorite places in town to get a dark chocolate antioxidant fix (and boost your brain power in the process!).
Kim Hack‘s beautifully curated selection of artisan chocolate bars, bonbons and confections are sourced from the top chocolate makers and chocolatiers locally and around the world. But the most decadent dessert of all is her Inside Out German Chocolate Cake. This family recipe sandwiches the coconut pecan filling between the cake layers instead of just on top, so you get a double dose. “We then smother the whole thing in an amazing 72 percent Venezuelan dark chocolate salted buttercream frosting,” Hack says. “If I show up at a family celebration or a friend’s house with anything else I get evil glares.” 1651 N. Wells St., Chicago, 312-624-8540
New Hampshire’s most beloved chocolatier turns 30 this year and celebrates with a new shop in Chicago, their first outside the East Coast. The 1,000-square-foot cafe and retail shop serves drinking chocolates, pastries, bonbons and their signature chocolate mice. Try the single-source drinking chocolate of the month to explore the concept of terroir in chocolate and pair it with a pastry like the rich Harvard Square or gluten-free Hazelnut-Orange Cake. 609 N. State St., Chicago, 312-635-8975
Everything about the Waldorf Astoria’s new brasserie, celebrity chef Michael Mina‘s first Chicago project, is a study in elegant decadence. The Valrhona Chocolate Grand Macaron is no exception — a careful pattern of fresh raspberries, chocolate mousse and whipped cream is sandwiched between two cakey macaron cookies and finished tableside with warm chocolate sauce. 11 E. Walton St., Chicago, 312-625-1324
Chocolate lava cakes are a dime a dozen, but the legendary Hot Chocolate Cake at Morton’s has been the best-selling dessert for more than 20 years. The oozy liquid center explodes from a soft, pillowy semisweet chocolate cake. And because everything is better à la mode, it’s served with a generous scoop of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream on the side. 699 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-5111 and other locations
Each of the desserts on the menu at Portsmith is inspired by one of the seven seas. Chocolate doesn’t grow in the ocean, but the Indian Ocean inspired Pastry Chef Chris Teixeira to create the Madagascar. This landscape of pliable chocolate ganache with crunchy chocolate “rocks” utilizes three different varieties of dark and milk chocolate, including Valrhona’s 64 percent Manjari and 33 percent Tanariva, both single-origin chocolates from Madagascar. 660 N. State St., Chicago, 312-202-6050
Chef Chris Barth honors the family tradition of serving French croquembouche at weddings with carefully crafted pâte à choux dough for his Profiteroles au Chocolat. Instead of pastry cream, a scoop of house-made French vanilla ice cream fills each pastry. Bittersweet chocolate sauce melted with strong French espresso is poured over top as the finishing touch. 1744 W. Golf Road, Mount Prospect, 847-439-2424; 83 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, 815-893-4465
The Chocolate Mascarpone Pie has been on the menu since Saranello’s opened in 2007. Cinnamon is folded into a rich and silky chocolate filling, with cool mascarpone whipped cream on top to balance the fudgy interior. “We could never take this pie off of the menu,” says Chef Mychael Bonner. “Our guests would make me walk the plank.” 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, 847-777-6878
Homer’s Ice Cream makes a special vanilla bean ice cream folded with Snickers pieces for Wildfire’s signature Ice Cream Sandwich. Executive Chef Joe Decker was inspired by his childhood favorite ice cream sandwiches from the ice cream truck when coming up with this treat. The ice cream is sandwiched between two thin layers of house-made brownies. “We run a dough docker over the brownies to create the authentic dimples and drizzle homemade hot fudge and caramel to finish,” Decker says. 1300 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, 847-657-6363 and other locations
If you prefer to drink your chocolate…
The temperature is dropping, which means it’s definitely time to replace that summertime milkshake with a rich cup of hot chocolate. Here are some of the best places to get hot chocolate around Chicagoland.
And when you indulge, don’t forget those who don’t have the same luxury…
We hope you’ll get the chance to taste all of these delectable desserts, but when you do, take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be able to enjoy such fabulous treats. Feed your stomach, then your soul by paying forward your good fortune and supporting one of these food-centric nonprofits.
More from Make It Better:
- 4 Under-the-Radar Wine Vacations in North America
- 10 Ethnic Restaurants Around Chicago to Visit Right Now
- 6 Healthy, Homemade Replacements for Your Favorite Halloween Candy
Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.