My sweet tooth review: 3 ultimate chocolate shops to visit in Cape Town
IMAGES: iStock, Honest Chocolate
Sometimes, when people say that they love chocolate I roll my eyes. Not in front of them, I do it alone while I’m taking down my Cadbury’s. I love chocolate. As hard as I try not to, I eat it every day. I want it all of the time. I love how it immediately makes me happy and that it does the same for other people too. It’s primitive and uncomplicated. It’s so joyful.
These three little chocolatiers are local and passionate, and most importantly, they love to eat, share, and sell delicious, decadent chocolate.
My Sugar - The bells and whistles
This place, hands down, is my absolute favourite chocolaterie. I walk in and hover my finger over the glass scanning every section for new items and there is always something new.
The owners Kaylah Greenberg and Asher Isaacs share that bliss that comes with loving chocolate. They glide along behind the counter with piping bags in their hands or tapping a chocolate mould with their back turned, but still with a glance over the shoulder to chat. I’m always asking questions.
Celebrating any excuse for chocolate, their shop is inundated with specialities for dessert feasts. I usually get a piece of fudge for immediate consumption, while we discuss the wares, and then beg them for their homemade marshmallows that only appear occasionally. They have crunchy, caramelised coconut flakes that are so moreish I’ve been known to finish a bag before I get home (I don't live far).
They are obsessed with making people feel good. It’s in the way they talk to their clientele, therapeutically sussing out who needs what on that particular occasion. They can tell I am one of them. I need it all, all of the time, and for that, I bow down to their decadence.
What to get:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory status - All of the over-the-top milkshakes, but the chocolate one is so rich..duh.
Everyone likes - The miso caramel Buddha and the chocolate rainbow with cookie butter inside.
Heart of Darkness - Dark chocolate bark that’s salty and sweet with a crunch.
Honest Chocolate Cafe - Serious chocolate
I once called Honest Chocolate and asked them to buy bulk chocolate for my cookies. They flat out said no. Their surety and admiration for their own product gained my full respect. This team does not mess around.
Honest Chocolate is sourced ethically and is made without nonsense. The star ingredients are agave, raw cacao paste and raw cocoa butter; just the essentials. This makes their chocolate more powerful, natural and uninterrupted. It also makes it vegan. Which, in my mind, makes it healthy. While I’m sure nutritionists would agree, everything in moderation, Honest Chocolate is my go-to when I’m heavily into yoga and I’ve kicked refined sugar (or simply when I’m in the neighbourhood).
Dark and delightful, the atmosphere of the Chocolate Cafe is cool. Through an iron gate, steps lead up to a small shop with a glass display of moody truffles. Scan your eyes a little further and cakes, tarts, and brownies appear. It’s all so beautifully broody and hip. It’s a chocolate shop for Tim Burton.
Take home some chocolate spread, it will last you a moment or the Mint, which is my favourite bar at the moment.
What to get:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory status - While most things are understated, the rose truffle is popping.
Everyone likes - The gooey brownies.
Heart of Darkness - It’s all dark, but if you are looking for the most bitter bite, try the 95% ‘Are you afraid of the dark?‘- and no I’m not, I am an equal chocolate opportunist.
Cocoa Fair - Everyday decadence
In the Old Biscuit Mill, your nose will guide you to a chocolate factory down a set of stairs, to an underground cave of chocolate wonders. You can start by tasting every one of their products. Unsurprisingly I do this regardless. Going through each little bowl precisely, deciding on which bar will be your best, is the only kind of difficult choice that should ever have to be made.
With an on-site factory behind glass, I usually lean in, with a stupid smile, watching ribbons of glassy chocolate being melted, being tempered, being played with and ultimately turned into something luscious that I want to eat. Their operation is more immense than the other smaller shops.
They sell raw chocolate products; ingredients to make your own chocolate at home. I generally keep their cocoa powder in bulk in my cupboard, it’s better than the generic store bought variety. And, if you are super keen, you can do a factory tour where the sounds of machines will hum while pressing cocoa powder, or extracting raw cacao, or shaking particles into oblivion until they yield themselves into something tasty.
On hot days they make the thickest deepest chocolate ice cream; if unwavering decadence and smooth textures are your idea of deliciousness.
What to get:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory status - The limited batches of chocolate ice cream.
Everyone likes - Cocoa nibs milk chocolate.
Heart of Darkness - They’ve got 100% Dark Chocolate, but somehow it doesn’t taste as dark as Honest Chocolate.