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Sweet Places: Naked Chocolate Cafe

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Gourmet Candy

Naked Chocolate Cafe Storefront

Have you heard of Naked Chocolate? And no, I’m not referring to a candy bar in its unwrapped glory. I’m talking about the chocolate store and cafe located on Walnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Naked Chocolate is known all too well by all the locals and is a “must visit” for any chocolate lover in the vicinity. It was even listed as one of the 10 best chocolate destinations by USA Today. How’s that for good press?

A couple of weekends ago I found myself in the city of brotherly love and insisted that we visit Naked Chocolate. Thankfully, my friends don’t mind indulging my candy obsessions and agreed to lead me to the chocolate mecca.

Approaching Naked Chocolate with its black and white striped awnings you can tell it’s going to be amazing just by looking at it. The interior shines with a wonderful golden glow that calls you inside from the January cold. As you walk in to the bustling cafe, you soon realize that seating in the cafe is just as prized as the chocolate it sells! I nabbed an open table and urged my friends to get their treats first so I could explore everything at my leisure afterwards.

Naked Chocolate Brownie

Look what was brought back to the table! A “junk in the trunk” bar and a peanut butter brownie! Yum! I took this as a sign it was my turn to go and explore the chocolate spread before me, since Naked Chocolate is full of eye candy! A long glass counter spans the length of the cafe holding all sorts of treats: bonbons, lollipops, chocolate bars of all shapes and sizes colored with edible paint, cupcakes, brownies, cakes, chocolate covered strawberries… the list goes on! And that’s not even mentioning the extensive drinking chocolate menu. How is a Candy Addict to choose?

Naked Chocolate Chocolates

I eventually decided on a nine piece box of their beautiful looking bonbons with their rich and creative colors and fun shapes. I figured that being able to taste the chocolate so directly would give me a good idea of what their flavor profile and philosophy was all about. Before I left, I had the chance to meet with Tom Block, the chocolate mastermind behind Naked Chocolate. I thought that it was pretty sweet that he was working on-site on a bustling Saturday and also that he was more than happy to come chat with me about chocolate!

From what Tom explained, most of the baked goods are made on site (there’s even a large window in the back so you can look into the kitchen and see them at work!) and all the chocolates are too except for the panned kinds. The couveture that Naked uses is organic and fair trade and they make a point of using at least 70% cocoa mass for all the dark chocolate. It’s really great to see that social responsibility is becoming more and more common in chocolate production. What impressed me most when talking with Tom was his enthusiasm: you could tell he was really having fun and cared immensely about his work.

I left Naked Chocolate with one of those wonderful feelings of warmth and overall fuzziness. It’s nice to find a little chocolate haven like this where you can pop in for chocolate anytime you feel like it, especially when there’s lots of love and creativity going into the whole production. I can’t wait for my trip back!

Naked Chocolate Bonbons

As for the bonbons, here’s my box and how they tasted (starting at top left going left to right):

Square with line pattern (peanut butter melt away): A good inch tall, this square bonbon tapers a little towards the top and has a nice line pattern placed at the flat surface on top. It smells of a rich dark chocolate and no hint of peanut butter. I took a bite and the thin dark chocolate coating cracked off to reveal a hard peanut butter interior. The dark chocolate is nice: smooth, a little nutty, hints of red fruit with no sourness or bitterness at all. The peanut butter center is a firm ganache, and I found I had to shave it with my teeth. The flavor is a mild, creamy peanut butter with a little salt kick.

Octagon with milk chocolate top (figaso): This one is also about an inch in height. The bonbon is split with a milk chocolate coating on the top half and a dark chocolate coating on the bottom half. It smells milky, mainly from the milk chocolate. My first bite revealed that there is no shell to this one at all, but it’s a solid chocolate piece. The milk chocolate is sweet and creamy and I’m definitely tasting some hazelnut in there. This is like biting into a hardened chunk of Nutella. The dark chocolate is the same as the peanut butter bonbon with a rich, nutty flavor.

Pyramid (force noir): Smells of dark chocolate with notes of cocoa, fruit and a little toasty hint to it. The shell is a good medium thickness, not too thick, not too thin. It cracked easily to reveal a creamy dark chocolate ganache on the inside that is a little firm with a good smooth texture and a slight grain to it. The flavor has notes of caramel, vanilla and coffee and surprisingly isn’t too rich, which a lot of dark chocolate ganaches tend to be.

Crown (marquise): There’s no noticeable aroma at all from this bonbon. The shell is thin, yet firm and sturdy. Inside is a milk chocolate ganache that’s much denser, smoother, creamier and sweeter than the ganache in the Force Noir. The shell is a dark milk chocolate (since I taste dairy in there) and it’s much sweeter than the darker shells of the previous pieces.

Orinoco – Venezulean milk chocolate ganache: This one is just gorgeous to look at; I kinda felt bad eating it! I bit into this and the brightly colored dome shaped shell immediately collapsed. I didn’t expect it to be so fragile! The milk chocolate ganache is the creamiest and most flavorful I’ve ever had. Wow. It’s so rich, it was almost melting in my hand. You really get the flavor of the cocoa and the cream, it’s so silky smooth. Because of the weak shell and creamy ganache this one is a bit messy to eat, but it’s so worth it. My favorite of them all.

Naked Chocolate logo rectangle (Naked Chocolate’s 70%): A nicely molded rectangle with the logo of Naked Chocolate printed on it. Biting into it I was surprised to find that this is a solid block of the dark chocolate instead of a filled one. Now I know why I didn’t detect any special aromas to it aside from the chocolate! The dark chocolate is smooth and flavorful: notes of berries and coffee mingle on my palette and leave a clean, slightly fruity finish.

Artist palette (paris black tea infusion): This is a cute bonbon that’s shaped like a painters palette complete with two paintbrushes and four splotches of paint. The chocolate shell is extremely glossy on this one. The aroma is very faint and I get notes of herbs more than anything else, which I’m assuming is the tea leaking out. The dark chocolate shell is very thin, like the Orinoco, and reveals a smooth ganache inside. The ganache is rich and very buttery tasting. I do get a hint of tea and it’s slightly bitter with a nice roasted herbal flavor to it. It’s very faint though and the butteryness of the ganache really steals the show.

Oval with line pattern (orange noir): This one smells very distinctly of orange, like a Terry’s or the Cadbury Orange Creme. This bonbon had me fooled again, since I bit into it expecting it to have a ganache center but instead it’s a solid chocolate. The chocolate is softer than the Naked Chocolate 70%. There’s cream in here since the bite is very smooth and the chocolate provided no resistance to my teeth at all. The orange flavor is extremely natural and it lingers behind the chocolate, lending its light citrus notes and a hint of bitterness and zest. Lovely.

Gem shape (bangkok green tea infusion): This one doesn’t have much of an aroma to it, but it does smell subtly of dark chocolate. The shell is thick and inside is a smooth dark chocolate ganache. The flavor is very mild with no bitterness in it at all. I am not tasting much in the way of tea but there’s a very, very subtle grassiness to it. I had to really have to concentrate to find it. The finish is sweeter due to the tea infusion and it rounds out this rich ganache beautifully.

In conclusion, Naked Chocolate cafe is charming on so many levels and the chocolate is of good quality and flavor. So be sure to stop by next time you’re in Philadelphia, since Naked Chocolate is something you don’t want to miss!

chocolate, bonbons, truffles, Philadelphia

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5 Responses to “Sweet Places: Naked Chocolate Cafe”

  1. 1
    Julie Nicolay says:

    Wow, what a great article! I felt like I was not only “there,” but my mouth actually reacted to each description of your box of bonbons! Great photos, interesting topic and really well thought out in the flow of the piece. THANK YOU! I thoroughly enjoyed my field trip with you. I will absolutely go if I’m ever in Philly again. I love the dish and forks that the brownies came with: classic, different and shows class and charm…

  2. 2
    JEP says:

    Drool-worthy desriptions:)

  3. 3
    swissmiss says:

    Oh YUM!!!!! Gosh I wish I were in Philly right now. Your description of the sweets was scrumptious. Enjoy the goodies! :)

  4. 4
    smurfie says:

    I’m so glad I dropped by and saw this post… I’m going to Philadelphia next weekend and boy, now I want to make sure I find this place!! Thank you!

  5. 5
    Dawn says:

    WOW what beautiful chocolates! Once in St Augustine FL my hubby and I visited Whetstone Chocolate Factory where they make chocolate in the shapes of sea shells found in FL waters.Here is the address and phone if any one wants to order ; 2 Coke Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32086 · 904-825-1700. I have no connection to this company in any other way than a visitor many years ago.

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