Great News for Chocolate Lovers!

As the summer season officially checks out and the weather is starting to cool off, restaurant managers and chefs say that diners are warming up to rich, decadent chocolate.

“It’s a fact that chocolate sells more in the cold months than in the warm months,” says celebrity chocolatier Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres Chocolate, based in New York. “Also, chocolate sells better in New York than in Florida or Los Angeles. People eat more chocolate when it is a bit cooler, and chocolate products like hot chocolate also sell better when it’s colder.”

For David Carmichael, executive chef of Gilt, the two-Michelin star restaurant in the Palace Hotel in New York, the cooling but not yet cold weather means it is time to start experimenting with the time-honored pairing of chocolate and ice cream with his trio of chocolate ice cream cones, which debuts this fall. For that dessert, his house-made mint chocolate chip, strawberry and s’mores swirl ice creams are served in three handmade dark chocolate ice cream cones.

Carmichael says the idea for the cones came to him because he already had cone-shaped molds in his shop, and he thought it was best to work with what he already had. To make the cones he chops tempered chocolate finely and slowly melts it until it is a liquid, being careful not to let it get too hot. Once the chocolate is melted he pours it into the molds, taps on them to get rid of bubbles and make sure they are even, then scrapes off the excess and lets them set before popping them open. Once they come out, he says, “You get this really beautiful, shiny, extra bitter 76-percent chocolate cone.”

The mint chocolate chip cone is a house-made mint ice cream served in an all-chocolate cone, which serves as the “chip.” The s’mores swirl ice cream is also served in a chocolate cone and topped with a bit of crispy pastry and chocolate crunch to add texture. The strawberry ice cream is served in a cone made of strudel and lined in the dark chocolate, which keeps the ice cream from melting out the bottom.

The trio is served on a plate with a circle of milk chocolate that Carmichael makes by putting the plate on a cake spinner. On the circle he places a bench made of milk chocolate that holds the cones. According to Carmichael, his customers always eat the bench with their dessert.

Gilt has a well-developed chocolate program and does a lot of retail chocolate business, Carmichael says. While strange-flavored chocolates come in and out of vogue, Carmichael says he tries to focus on executing his chocolates as well as possible, and doesn’t eschew the popular flavors like caramel, cinnamon and orange.

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