ChocGlitz & Cream – Albuquerque, New Mexico

ChocoGlitz & Cream in Albuquerque (Just Barely)

To whom should you turn when you want a recommendation you can trust for great ice cream?   Your natural inclination is probably to ask a kid.  Kids, particularly those in the age group two through twelve, consume more ice cream than any other American demographic.  Alas, kids in the aforementioned age group are like Mikey in the old Life cereal commercials. They like everything (except maybe coffee flavored ice cream) and aren’t quite as discerning as ice cream paramours in other age groups.  So, why not trust an adult for a recommendation?  Research has shown that contrary to children, adults tend to prefer the same few flavors for which they’ve developed a preference over the course of their lives (talk about getting set in their ways and losing the sense of adventure).

So, to whom does this overgrown kid in an adult’s body turn for advice on great ice cream?  Would you believe I get my ice cream advice from one of my two favorite baristas at Rio Rancho’s sublime Cafe Bella.  Here’s why.  Baristas tend to have rather refined palates–they have to considering coffee has almost twice as many flavor characteristics discernible by human senses than wine does–and are able to discern flavor nuances and qualities most of us can’t detect.   When barista extraordinaire Stefan, told me about his favorite place for ice cream, he didn’t just tell me he liked it.  He gave me a detailed flavor profile analysis, describing flavors, ingredients, textures, milk fat content and other qualities only a connoisseur would understand.

Rebecca Stuffs Our Waffle Cones Generously

When we stepped into ChocGlitz for the first time, owner-chocolatier Celeste Davis asked how we found out about her charming establishment.  No sooner had we told her our barista recommended it than she responded with “oh, you must mean Michael” as in Michael Gonzales, the effusive owner of Cafe Bella.  Michael, it turns out, frequents ChocGlitz with his beautiful family.  It didn’t surprise us in the least that culinary professionals we respect so much would visit ChocGlitz which just might be Albuquerque’s very best chocolate and ice cream shop.  It’s almost Rio Rancho’s very best chocolate and ice cream shop, too, being situated just south of the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center on Unser Blvd. near the demarcation line between the Duke City and the City of Vision.

ChocGlitz & Cream opened its doors in July, 2014 and almost immediately began garnering not only local accolades, but national attention.  In February, 2015, Celeste and chocolatier-artiste Rebeca Bonsal created a five-foot chocolate sculpture depicting trees, fairies and woodland creatures for a Food Network program called Outrageous Chocolate.  That painstaking effort took a bit longer than 200 hours.  While Celeste and Rebecca don’t have to take nearly as much time in crafting the tempting chocolates on display daily at the shop, it’s obvious theirs is a labor of love…and of deliciousness.   ChocGlitz literally surrounds you with eye candy everywhere you turn.

Temptations Galore Everywhere You Turn at ChocGlitz

Celeste and Rebecca hand-craft almost all the chocolates sold at the store using fair-trade certified chocolate (ensuring cocoa farmers are paid fair wages and don’t use child or slave labor).  ChocGlitz offers a treasure trove of beguiling treats such as fudge, caramel apples, caramel corn, chocolate-dipped Oreos, hand-made truffles, cheesecakes and many other chocolate specialties.  A whopping 95-percent of the chocolates sold at ChocGlitz are made on the premises with a handful of fair-trade chocolates (and such rarities as Mallow Cups) brought in to complement the locally made product.  All ice creams are also made on the premises.

With a sensory overload of aromas and sights threatening to engulf us, we started our ChocGlitz adventure with ice cream: a scoop each of raspberry-red chile and salted caramel on a waffle cone for me and a scoop each of egg nog and pumpkin spice, also on a waffle cone for my Kim.  The raspberries for the raspberry-red chile ice cream come from Heidi’s Raspberries in Corrales so you know they’re of the highest quality.  Common denominators in all four ice cream flavors are smoothness, creaminess, delicateness and richness.  These are the hallmark of ice cream greatness, the qualities of which Stefan bragged.  Those qualities make for the type of ice cream with which you want to take your time, the type that releases its nuanced flavors as it melts on your tongue.  A good amount of milk-fat contributes the quality of “mellowness,” coupling with the natural flavors to seduce your taste buds, not attack them.

Left: Raspberry-Red Chile and Salted Caramel; Right: Egg Nog and Pumpkin Spice

The Cracker Jacks jingle with which some of us grew up boasts of “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize!  That’s what you get in Cracker Jacks!”  After sampling the bacon caramel corn at ChocGlitz, I became immediately convinced that Cracker Jacks got it wrong.  Instead of candy-coated peanuts, Cracker Jacks should have used bacon.  During the third annual Southwest Bacon Fest, ChocoGlitz introduced a number of bacon products which were very well received.  The bacon caramel combines two great ingredients–possibly the very best caramel corn you’ve ever had and bacon, that addictive pork candy America loves. 

If you’re not happy with the ice cream you’re finding in your neighborhood, there’s no guarantee your barista will be able to recommend something better.  That is, unless that barista has been to ChocGlitz & Cream, quite possibly the best chocolate and ice cream shop in the metropolitan area.

ChocGlitz & Cream
10660 Unser Blvd, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
505-898-GLTZ (4589)
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 21 November 2015
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Raspberry-Red Chile Ice Cream; Salted Caramel Ice Cream; Egg Nog Ice Cream; Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream; Bacon Caramel Corn; Dark English Toffee; Cashew Turtle

ChocGlitz & Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Theobroma Chocolatier – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Theobroma Chocolatier on Tramway and Montgomery in Albuquerque's Northeast Heights

For many men, February 14th is the most dreaded day of the year. It’s a day in which our boundless capacity for bad taste comes to the fore. Though well-intentioned, when it comes to women and romance, we’re clueless.  You might not know it, but shopping for women is the biggest cause of anxiety among American men. There’s nothing like the crushingly disappointed look on your lover’s face as she unwraps the latest bad gift to quell the ardor in a man’s heart.

Worse, our anguish has been made public thanks to the annual global dissemination of an e-mail entitled “ten worse Valentine’s Day gifts.” Most men would rather find themselves on the annual “Darwin Awards” e-mail similarly circulated worldwide than to recognize their contribution to the infamous worse Valentine’s Day gifts e-mail.  The truth is, many of us would have a better chance of completing a Rubik’s Cube in record time than picking out the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. It’s no wonder you hear so many men whining about the “obligatory” nature of gift-giving during this “commercial” holiday.

The display case at Theobroma

The display case at Theobroma

Let’s be honest. The XY chromosome pairing has better equipped us for shooting at things and watching sports than it has for buying gifts. Yeah, blame our chromosomes for the cavalcade of tacky, terrible and inappropriate Valentine’s Day gifts given by men throughout the world.  Still we persevere with our rampant, well-intentioned consumerism which accounts for most of the $100 million spent in Valentine’s Day gifts. The smart ones among us will forgo using our limited imaginations and don’t endeavor to buy something unique and creative.

Instead, we buy acres of roses and enough bling to cover an NBA star for a year. We kill entire forests so that mushy cards can be printed that express the sentiment we usually reserve for our favorite quarterback. We buy enough stuffed animals to fill entire zoos and mostly, we buy chocolate.  According to the National Retail Federation, some 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are purchased each year for Valentine’s Day. We must do that right because the day following Valentine’s Day has been declared National Cheap Chocolate Day for the tons of chocolate left on shelves.

Maybe the best chocolate turtle in the Duke City.

Maybe the best chocolate turtle in the Duke City.

Some men, being men, still manage to screw this up and will give our sweeties inappropriate chocolate–either cheap, marginally edible chocolate or worse, anatomically correct (except for the exaggerated proportions) chocolate depicting body parts not meant to be associated with chocolate.  There’s no excuse for buying bad chocolate if you live in Albuquerque. Yes, Albuquerque. As hard as it might be to believe, you can actually find very good chocolate in Albuquerque and you don’t have to import it from Europe. One of my favorite places for chocolate in New Mexico is Theobroma Chocolatier. Its chocolate is more than good enough to save Valentine’s Day for even the most Ralph Kramden-like troglodytes among us.

The name Theobroma is derived from two Greek words, “theo” and “broma” which translate to the “food of the gods.” In the polytheistic culture of the ancient Mayans, chocolate was considered a luxury reserved exclusively for gods and the ruler class. The Mayans became the world’s first chocolate aficionados, revering chocolate for its mood-enhancing, restorative properties. It became an integral part of the Mayan society.  Today, chocolate is no longer considered exclusive to a privileged class and the celebrity-worshiping modern world no longer holds the “god of chocolate” in reverence. No longer are temples built in his honor or sacrifices of chocolate made in his name.

A chocolate lovers' delight: Piñon covered dark chocolate

Instead “temples” such as Theobroma make excellent chocolate available to everybody. Located near the foothills of the Sandias, it’s not exactly within convenient driving range for most chocolate worshippers in Albuquerque, but it’s worth the drive from anywhere in the city. Men will hopefully not have to stop to ask for directions (we actually do that when women aren’t around) to find it.  Theobroma is the brainchild of Chuck and Heidi Weck, two Kansas City transplants who launched their first Duke City chocolate emporium in 1996. In making and selling the food of the gods, the Wecks are committed to perpetuating and nurturing the chocolate traditions begun by the Maya.

Only the Swiss (22.4 pounds per person per year) consume more than the 11.7 pounds of chocolate each American will consume each year. During my visits to Theobroma, it’s been tempting not to consume an entire year’s average in one day. Theobroma makes me feel like Charlie, the kid in the Willy Wonka movie who found the last golden ticket.  That’s because Theobroma has chocolate of every imaginable type and shape (more than one hundred different molded chocolates) and it’s all delicious and affordable.

Chocolate covered caramel with sea salt

Theobroma has got assortments of chocolate truffles in every flavor: hazelnut, butter pecan champagne, coffee, amaretto, mint, cappuccino, rum, raspberry, Irish cream, Tiramisu and orange. It’s got milk chocolate and dark chocolate and everything in between. It’s even got chocolate covered Oreos (the best I’ve ever had) and ChacoPop, popcorn smothered in milk chocolate (or caramel, if you prefer).  It’s got chocolate covered caramel kissed with sea salt, a delicious treat that will make macho men swoon.  It’s got piñon covered chocolate bark that you’d kill for.

There’s a treasure trove of chocolate sure to please the love of your life. The only danger is that you might not be able to resist the temptation to “sample” some of it and if you do, none of it will make it home.

Theobroma Chocolatier
12611 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
505 293-6565
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 12 February 2012
COST: $$
BEST BET: Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Covered Oreos, ChacoPop popcorn, Chocolate Covered Caramels with Sea Salt

Chocolate Cartel – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Chocolate Cartel, a chocoholic's paradise on Juan Tabo

“Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands —
and then eat just one of the pieces.”

Judith Viorst, American Author & Journalist

“Betcha can’t eat just one.”  In the early 1960s, Lay’s Potato Chips made that slogan a household phrase, in the process increasing potato chip sales significantly and opening up new markets internationally.  Today, North Americans consume approximately 1.2 billion pounds of potato chips every year, making it the most consumed snack food in the entire continent.  There is no physiological basis, however, for Lay’s assertion that its salty snack favorite is so addictive it can’t be resisted.  The same can’t be said of chocolate

Chocolate most assuredly does have psychoactive properties.  Similar to turkey, chocolate is replete with tryptophan, amino acids in the human diet which assist in the production of serotonin, our mood-modulating neurotransmitter. It is also imbued with phenyl-ethylamine, a substance which stimulates the same bodily reaction as falling in love.

A chocolate menagerie under glass

Female humorists have often extolled the superiority of chocolate over sex, even comprising a list of twenty reasons chocolate is better than sex. Perhaps in retort, Italian researchers (mostly men) “discovered” that women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who abstain from chocolate goodness. Women who consume chocolate frequently were shown to have higher levels of desire, arousal and satisfaction from sex than women who deny themselves chocolate.

Milton S. Hershey, John Cadbury, Frank C. Mars, Henri Nestle, Willy Wonka…all famous chocolatiers, all men.  Hmm.  Could it be they all got into the trade because they suspected chocolate could help them “get lucky?”  They wouldn’t be the first.  Mexico’s despotic emperor Montezuma drank as many as fifty goblets of chocolate (flavored with chili peppers, vanilla, wild bee honey and aromatic flowers) because he believed chocolate had stamina-enhancing properties which came in handy when “entertaining” concubines.

Dark chocolate turtles: macadamia nuts, pecan, cashews and almonds

Most men, it seems, also believe in the ability of chocolate to help us advance in the game of seduction (either that or we lack the imagination to buy our significant others anything else) because we buy some 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate each year for Valentine’s Day.  If the fact that tons of chocolate are left on shelves is any indication, maybe we’re not buying enough.  Maybe the chocolate we’re buying–Brach’s, Nestle’s, Dove–isn’t having our desired effect.

Since 2009, men and women throughout the Duke City have improved the quality of their chocolate purchases, ergo perhaps the quality of our trysts.  That’s because Scott and Tim Van Rixel relocated their nationally acclaimed Xocoatl Chocolates from Taos, renaming it The Chocolate Cartel.  In their 5,500 square-foot facility on Juan Tabo, which includes a retail shop, customers have discovered the difference truly great chocolates can make.

Sea salt and caramel gelatto (left) and Mayan Spiced Chocolate Sorbet

Truly great chocolate isn’t cheap like the stuff left on shelves the day after Valentine’s Day. Assortments of chocolate truffles, available in quantities of four, six or twelve, start at eight dollars for a four piece box.  No ordinary truffles are these: Ultra Dark, Espresso, Irish Cream, Honey & Pollen, Pomegranate, Smoked Chile, Raspberry & Rose, Almond Amaretto, Cinnamon, Blueberry Port and Blood Oranges.  The flavor profiles are so absolutely amazing, your eyes might just tear up in sheer awe.  The smoked chile, in particular, warrants a salute to Montezuma, especially when the deceptively piquant chile kicks in.  New flavors are periodically introduced.

The Chocolate Cartel obtains its beans, the criollo cacao, from a Venezuelan supplier renown for its organic farming.  Criollo cacao beans produce the highest quality chocolate though its yields are low because of their susceptibility to diseases.  In the hands of certified master chocolatier Scott Van Rixel, the very best in handcrafted chocolates are created from these most rare of cacao beans.  Chocolate Cartel chocolates are both smooth and intensely flavored, rich and mellow, decadent and delicious beyond any chocolate you’ll find in Albuquerque.

To say the Chocolate Cartel is a serious chocoholic’s paradise is an understatement.  Its offerings include chocolate covered almonds, assorted turtles, Mayan hot chocolate, dark chocolate flourless cake and chocolate bars. As popular as the chocolates are, the Cartel has earned almost as much acclaim for its gelatto and sorbet products, both of which are without peer in New Mexico.

The Mayan-spiced chocolate sorbet (cinnamon, red chile, almonds, cocoa powder) is smooth and creamy, devoid of the graininess found in inferior sorbet.   Unlike ice cream, sorbet isn’t made from cream, milk or egg yolks, but there’s absolutely no skimping on the rich chocolate goodness of this one.  It’s an adult chocolate kids of all ages can appreciate.

I was first introduced to what may be the Van Rixel’s magnus opus at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria where the sea salt and caramel gelatto (local milk, agave, no corn syrup, gluten-free) stands out as Albuquerque’s best gelatto by far.  Made with a lower butterfat content than ice cream, but with many of the same ingredients, it is the essence of the best sea salt caramel candies in a frozen treat.

At the Chocolate Cartel, you definitely can’t eat just one.  This is the best chocolate in Albuquerque!

Chocolate Cartel
315 Juan Tabo Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505 797-1193
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 4 June 2011
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Sea Salt and Caramel Gelatto, Mayan Spiced Chocolate Sorbet, Pecan Chocolate Turtle

The Chocolate Cartel on Urbanspoon

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