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Sugar Rush:

February 6, 2012

Haute Chocolate!

Just in Time for V-Day, two local purveyors craft sweet treats and sips

By Nancy Staab

  • Cacao photos by Colby Blount

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead devotes the month of February to chocolate fantasies, while Cacao introduces limited-edition chocolate diamonds and a new series of intriguing chocolate truffles-by-number.

Vignettes from Cacao Atlanta Vignettes from Cacao Atlanta


Boutique chocolate-maker Kristen Hard of Cacao Atlanta crafts fine-honed chocolate diamonds, and a new chocolate-by-numbers truffles collection just in time for Valentine's Day. Life couldn’t be sweeter for our artisan bean-to-bar girl. The national press has discovered her refined chocolate salon and bespoke bon bons with upcoming press in Bon Appetit and a feature coming in Town & Country this spring. And recently, Cacao was named one of the best chocolate shops in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. Just for Valentine’s Day, Cacao is offering limited-edition, handmade, chocolate diamond truffles. The faceted, cut crystal-shaped bonbons are filled with dark chocolate ganache infused with Schramsberg’s 2007 Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine for a potent chocolate-and-champagne-like combo. The diamonds are then dusted in various shades of pearl powder and individually packaged in a beautiful presentation box. The diamonds must be pre-ordered (see contact info. below), and can be picked up beginning Feb. 10 at all Cacao Atlanta locations. In addition, Hard has been hard at work dreaming up new chocolate truffle flavor profiles, 18 in all, for a two-dozen set of numbered chocolates. The new number system provides an easy way to identify each chocolate flavor in the box so you don’t bite into bourbon when you are craving blueberry. Clever customers can even custom order select numbers that commemorate a birthday, special anniversary or lucky number. Among the gourmet new flavors: pistachio marzipan, bourbon espresso, raspberry thyme, cinnamon rum raisin, blueberry lavender, pink peppercorn ginger, and, true to her Southern roots--cola.

Cacao Atlanta has got your number at 312 C North Highland Ave. in Virginia-Highland or  2817 Peachtree Rd. NW in Buckhead,


The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead's Valentine's Afternoon Tea The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead's Valentine's Afternoon Tea


Rich, aphrodisiac chocolate has cleverly inserted its way into almost every element of the Ritz’s programming in February, with a delectable series of specials, culminating in a Valentines Day indulgence. Among the highlights:  A weekend, custom hot chocolate bar during tea hours, through Feb. 26 in the lobby lounge, with spicy dark, berry, or milk chocolate caramel blends plus fun garnishes ($10).  A chocolate and cherry, 50-minute facial ($155) and a fifty-minute Love Potion No. Five couple’s massage with five essential oils ($290) are offered all month in the spa; A Valentines Weekend afternoon tea with a decidedly chocolate theme will be served Feb. 9-12; and on Thurs. Feb. 9, Neiman Marcus will present informal modeling of fashions in Valentine’s red or pink for a “Haute Fashion, Haute Chocolate” afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge from 2:30-4PM, ($34). On Valentines Weekend come in for a Saturday Feb. 11 couples chocolate-making class at 11AM followed by lunch in the café, $125 per couple reservations required. Then on Sunday Feb. 12, Sunday Brunch in the Café will feature a special chocolate laden dessert spread to cap off your death-by-chocolate experience, ($59).

For reservations for Sunday Brunch, please call 404-240-7035 or visit For reservations for Chocolate Afternoon Tea including “Haute Fashion, Haute Chocolate”, and the “Haute Couples, Haute Chocolate” Candy-Making Class and Lunch, please call 404-240-7035. Reservations are not required in The Lobby Lounge or The Wine Bar. For Spa appointments, please call 404-240-7041

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead Haute Chocolate Bar The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead Haute Chocolate Bar



Chocolate at the Ritz also takes liquid form in the month of February. In-house mixologist Christa Sladky has crafted two sinful sips inspired by chocolate, the silken White Chocolate Cherry Martini and the more masculine and spiced Aztec Manhattan over Valentine’s Day weekend Feb. 9-11 in the Lobby Lounge, $14 (recipes below). The Aztec Manhattan is positively knock-out.


Haute Chocolate Cocktails created by Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, Mixologist Christa Sladky

White Chocolate Cherry Martini at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead White Chocolate Cherry Martini at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

White Chocolate Cherry Martini

1 oz    Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

3/4 oz Stoli® Vanil

3/4 oz House-infused Cherry Brandy

1/2 oz Half-and-half

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve up, garnished with a cherry speared with white chocolate.


Aztec Manhattan

1 1/2 oz         Knob Creek Bourbon

1/2 oz             Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth

3/4 oz             House-made Spiced Cocoa Nib Syrup

1 dash            Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

2 dashes        Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole  (Chocolate Bitters)


Build in a mixing glass over ice and stir for about 30 rotations, until glass is foggy. Strain over ice into a snifter. Garnish with an orange twist dipped in dark chocolate.