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Thousandths dollar box of chocolate from Manhattan. Made in New York. In this edition to the Lap of Luxury, we visited Gabriel Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate in Bryant Park to find out what it takes to make a $1,000 box of chocolates.
The idea to create these really different and flavorful chocolates came from Patron, Chef Marc Aumont says. They worked on them for almost two months, starting with the aesthetics, then working on the flavor to get the right mix of chocolate and alcohol.
It may sound like a lot of money for chocolates, but it’s an incredibly labor-intensive box. Every step is both detail-oriented and costly. If a typical series of chocolates takes three, four, even five hours to do, Chef Aumont says this box of tequila-based chocolates takes 15 hours.
You won’t pay $1,000 for all of the chocolates at Gabriel Kreuther, but the attention to detail with each bon-bon and pastry is apparent.
Just look in the window. Overlooking Bryant Park, Chef Aumont says, they were inspired to do something really European with the chocolate shop, but with flavors from New York. Their macaroon for example — a classic French cookie — but Chef Aumont makes his unique with a cream cheese filling.
He says he wanted to represent New York. What represents New York to him? A cheesecake. A true, heavy, rich cheesecake with Philadelphia cream cheese, that, he says, blends old world and new world together.
Also old world-new world, his take on the traditional French Galette des Rois: the king cake. Chef Aumont adds hazelnut to the flaky pastry, which typically has almond filling. And, he says, it’s delicious. He offered to give me $1,000 if I didn’t think it was good.
The chocolate shop opened in November as an annex to Gabriel Kreuther’s Michelin-star restaurant. Both offer guests a front-row seat to a culinary magic show.
Chef Aumont says his shop is truly a workshop. In the restaurant and the chocolate shop, you can watch the chefs cooking. He says the primary idea was to take their guests on a journey, giving them a connection to both the restaurant and the shop.
Upstairs, in the front window of the chocolate shop, they were working on Heartbeet Bars for Valentine’s Day when we visited. The chocolates are filled with beet and carrot gelee and yogurt ganache.
Downstairs, in what Chef Aumont calls “the pastry dungeon,” he was working with sous chef Priscilla Scaff Mariani on their newest creation for February 14: dead fish. Chef Aumont says he was watching a Tim Burton movie with his niece and thought: why don’t we look at what Tim Burton would do for Valentine’s Day? So he decided to do a fish with his bones, and a head and tail made of hearts. Chef says he wanted to explore an unusual way to present love to people, not just a heart box, or something red.
What he wants from his chocolates, he says, is not an easy grab. He’s trying to do something different and creative. That creativity and imagination are the heart and soul of Gabriel Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolates.
The king cake, by the way, was absolutely delicious. Chef Aumont can keep his $1,000.