Chocolate is proven to release the same endorphins as love and sex, so we’re all for it. But this is Berlin, so we want to get our jollies outside of the box. From mouth-watering gaudy statues to tongue-twisting off-the-wall truffles, the Hauptstadt is a chocolate wonderland that will keep you orgasmically happy through the cold winter months.
Don’t be fooled by the cutesy pink-and-brown 1950s-style décor: Confiserie Mélanie’s offbeat handmade chocolates (€7.50/100g) are some of the most adventurous in town: mushroom-olive, garlic, rosemary and wasabi, all made by friendly shopkeeper Sabine Dubenkropp.
Yet the biggest surprise might be how un-shocking some combinations are to the palette (the mushroom-olive, for instance, tastes more like a salty nut). On the other hand, there’s just no adequate description for the amazing wasabi truffle. The sweetness and cocoa balance the wasabi’s heat, but the flavour is still prominent enough to clear your sinuses.
If you’re a spicy adventurer, this is your place, and for the mild at heart, there are less extreme varieties (try the rosemary), as well as plain old chocolate bars and candies. We recommend the combo: €1.90 for two mini choco treats and a coffee.
Confiserie Mélanie, Goethestr. 4, Charlottenburg, Mon-Wed, Fri 10-19, Thu 13-19, Sat 10-14
This is German family-run capitalism at its sweetest: over a century old, Leysieffer started in Osnabrück in 1909 and has since grown into a nationwide gourmet chain, with the first Berlin location opening in the old Chinese embassy on Ku’damm in 1983.
Expect a plethora of beautiful seasonally themed packaging for every last morsel, from truffles to marzipan and ganache. Chocolate bars are often daring: jalapeño-chili, juniper, cranberry and even ‘vintage’ chocolate (like the two-year-aged, 85-percent-cocoa 2009 Noir Amer).
Elegantly wrapped Christmas boxes or Advent calendars filled with chocolates (including lactose-free), marzipan figurines, and delicious honey Lebkuchen assortments make for the perfect seasonal gift.
And for the forgetful, they’ve got an outpost at Tegel Airport that also serves their strudels and sumptuous fruitcakes. If you’re in town and want to sit down to enjoy, indulge at their posh-modern bistros at KaDeWe and on Friedrichstraße.
Leysieffer, locations throughout Berlin. More info at www.leysieffer.de
Are you a guilt-ridden gourmand? Do you suffer from food production awareness? Bitterveld is your chocolate rebel haven.
After earning rave reviews for his Berlin-brand homemade chocolate sold at In’t Veld, the erstwhile shop on Helmholzplatz, and writing Chocolate Rebels, a book exposing the ugliness of the cocoa business, Holger in’t Veld has gone all-ethical, fully organic and 100 percent fair-trade. In November 2011, he opened Bitterveld, a shop where all the goodies are made from Granada cocoa, known for its strong, deep taste, and pure, nutrient-retaining coconut blossom sugar (€6 per 100g-sheet).
If you’re a raw foodie with a sweet tooth, Bitterveld’s got your back with raw beans (they’re usually roasted), bars and nibs (unprocessed chocolate). And rebel rugrats are covered too: there are baggies of alphabet- and animal-shaped chocolates for the wee ones, though In’t Veld stresses this isn’t your typical crappy kids’ treat.
Temporarily located in a small ice cream shop in P-Berg but no doubt headed for bigger pastures, Bitterveld is the protest chocolate for connoisseurs.
Bitterveld, Hufelandstr. 7, Prenzlauer Berg, Daily 10-20
The best part of a ‘dark restaurant’ is that you can indulge in bad table manners without anyone noticing.
It becomes a notch more challenging when you’re indulging in Nocti Vagus’ three-course chocolate menu (€69) and you’re knuckle-deep in white chocolate cheese soufflé.
After an hour of prodding, poking and awkwardly trying to fork the pepper-white chocolate risotto and bacon-wrapped chicken breast from plate to mouth, you may find yourself wondering what happened to the chocolate in this chocolate menu. In fact, the sweet stuff is blended in so subtly, it’s nearly undetectable, even with the heightened taste sense the pitch-blackness is supposed to provide.
Luckily, after the dinner show (which changes every day and features Christmas shows in December), the elusive chocolate comes out in full-force in the form of wickedly rich dark chocolate soufflé and white-chocolate mousse.
All in all, a thoroughly obscure but enjoyable chocolate experience.
Nocti Vagus, Saarbrückerstr. 36, Prenzlauer Berg, Tel 030 7474 9123, Sun-Thu 18-00, Fri-Sat 18-1
In 2009, Germany’s iconic quadratic chocolate got itself a four-level temple dedicated to its own devotion.
Hungry for choco-enlightenment? Go for a promotional stroll through the free interactive Rittersport ‘museum’ and find out life-changing facts like how many Rittersport bars it would take to reach the top of the TV Tower (30,666).
You can also drop the kids at the children’s chocolate workshop in the basement and binge shop on the mini-treats (85 cents/100g), or take the escalator to the airport-lounge-looking café on the third floor.
The highlight by far though is the chance to make your own Rittersport bar: choose from over 25 extras, like rose pepper, marshmallows and various cereals (€3.50/100g). Our tip? Don’t go on the weekends, unless you like queuing with hoards of German tourists.
Rittersport Bunte Schokowelt, Französischestr. 24, Mitte, Mon-Wed 10-19, Thu-Sat 10-20, Sun 10-18
Sure, it has a vast assortment of chocolate, from bars and dipped nut clusters to over 250 chocolate treats, and an upscale chocolate restaurant you ascend to in a fancy glass elevator facing the Gendarmenmarkt. But Fassbender & Rausch has something even better: amazing chocolate sculptures of famous Berlin landmarks like the TV Tower, the Reichstag and the Gedächtniskirche.
The Reichstag weighs in at over 280kg (as much as a Brown Swiss bull), while the Titanic took over a year to build. And with the chocolate volcano perpetually pumping away, the store is really a smorgasbord for the eyes.
Fassbender & Rausch, Charlottenstr. 60, Tel 030 2045 8440, Mon-Sat 10-20, Sun 11-20
Some like it hot
There’s nothing like a steaming mug of hot chocolate to buoy your spirits during the cold, dreary winter. Nibs Cacao, a tiny-but-cosy bobo haven on Bleibtreustraße, delights with their thick velvety Spanish hot chocolate served with hot homemade churros (€2.60 for a large hot chocolate with two churros/ €1.90 for a small with one churro).
Spanish chocolate too thick for your liking? The “American Dream” is topped with mini-marshmallows, and the chilli cocoa packs a perfect punch of sweet and spice.
Nibs also serves a smashingly rich chocolate cake made by the Argentinean owner herself.
Nibs Cacao, Bleibtreustr. 46, Charlottenburg, Mon-Sat 11-20, Sun 13-19
Learn the ins and outs of chocolate production at this friendly Mitte bio-chocolate factory. At Atelier, you can learn to make a bar of chocolate – in workshops of 1-12 people – and decorate them to your desire (€8.50 for one hour). Write messages in white chocolate or use ingredients like rose petals and dried lavender to liven up your DIY dessert.
Atelier was started three years ago by friends Nina Engel and Katharina Kraft, who both have a background in culinary arts and a tooth for chocolate. They only sell their own products (€4.50/100g, €5.50/100g with writing), made from just two chocolates, one dark (70 percent cocoa) and one whole milk (41 percent) from an organic co-op in Peru.
Atelier chocolate can also be found in a few select bio stores and restaurants around Berlin, so you can satisfy your choco-longings when you’re out on the town.
Atelier Cacao, Linienstr. 130 (soon to move to Linienstr. 139-140), Mitte, Tel 030 3450 2680, Mon-Sat 12-20
Brush up on your Spanish and get your savoury chocolate fix at Taquería Ta’cabrón off of Schlesisches Tor, home to one of the best moles in town.
The cosy and colourful taquería puts their version of the complex chilli-cocoa sauce known as Mexico’s ‘national dish’ on tacos, burritos and quesadillas (€4.50-5.50).
And veggies and vegans needn’t fear: they can have their mole and eat it too – on tofu!
Taquería Ta’cabrón, Skalitzer Str. 60, Kreuzberg, Sun-Thu 13-23, Fri-Sat 13-midnight