Almond and fennel, coffee and cardamom, mango and juniper are only three kinds of exotic dark chocolate bars produced and sold by the Greenpoint-based artisanal chocolatier Antidote.
How does founder and owner Red Thalhammer, 44, invent her unique flavor pairings?
The Austrian-born New Yorker — who launched her company out of the small kitchen of her Long Island City apartment in 2010 — compares her creative process to music composition.
“It’s tricky to have the chocolate not be overpowering, to have the flavor not be overpowering, to have this balance,” said Thalhammer, whose business is one among a growing number selling artisanal chocolate bars with inventive flavors in New York City.
“Everybody is just exploring,” she said of the recent explosion of flavor options in chocolate confections, particularly those of the dark variety.
For Thalhammer, several factors shape her creative output: import laws in Ecuador, which produces the cacao beans she uses in her chocolate these days; her friends’ spice cabinets, where she’s found inspiration such as five types of fennel seeds; and impressions of what seasonings might appeal to the American palate.
“In the beginning, I would do a lot of tasting … and now I make a lot of those [flavor pairings] in my mind … because now I have a much better idea of what works with chocolate,” she told amNewYork.
We, however, recommend that you taste the six locally made and/or sold chocolate bars below — each with an uncommon flavor — for yourselves. (Life is too short to leave the taste of chocolate to the imagination.)