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Jun 30, 2012 11:41 PM

Chocolee- Ethereal Artisinal Chocolates in the South End

I just can't figure it- now that we have finally made it to, and been enraptured by, Lee Napoli's welcoming artisinal chocolate shop in the South End, why doesn't Chocolee get the CH love it deserves?Why do CHs only steer visitors to Burdick's for fine quality hand made Boston chocolates?

Chocolee is a teeny shop on Dedham St just off Tremont. The owner, noted Boston pastry chef,Lee Napoli, works the counter (after having made all the chocolates herself during the week.) I watched her interact with children and adults alike and she could not have been warmer or more friendly. The shop has the feel of an antique sweets shop. Small batches means frequent 'sold out' disappointments but of the numerous varieties I was able to taste, I was most impressed by the filled chocolates: Hazelnut Gianduja, White Choc Pistachio cream(but I don't LIKE white chocolate, Lee!), Dark Chocolate Truffle, Peanut Butter and Three Citrus. The filled chocolates are predominantly covered with dark chocolate (hooray!) and they have a beautiful soft and silky mouthfeel. Lee regularly introduces and rotates new flavors. She also offers, on wkends only, prob the best Boston croissants I have found. A myriad of crispy light pastry layers surround a filling of robust gruyere and ham, or chocolate, or almond/almond paste . The creamy dark -chocolate- filled wkend beignets (fried-to-order) are always a sell-out for good reason. What a terrific place that is now on our regular rotation and our list of food-spots-worth-raving-in-Boston. Ya gotta try it!

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  1. correction: Dartmouth St by Tremont. And she is closed in July.

    1. This was a nice find. I've driven by the place so much and it was always closed so I never thought to check it out. My friend and I went today and indulged a bit. (Today was her last day open before closing for a month.) I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I got a ham and cheese croissant. It was on par with Clear Flour quality-wise which was a pleasant surprise. Flaky tender pastry, filled generously with ham and gruyere made for a satisfying experience. My friend got an eclair, filled to order with pastry cream and whipped cream and topped with chocolate. He enjoyed it immensely. We also sampled one of the chocolate filled beignets and it was as decadently delicious as you would imagine. All in all, I'm happy to know that this option exists for croissants and chocolates in the South End.

      1. Now that her July vacatn is passed, we stopped by yesterday, sunday, to check out her latest. As a true AHtist, the talented Lee does frequently change her choco. fillings. This time I bought:White Chocolate shell filled w/ Pistachio white choc. ganache; Sesame; Marzipan filled fig dipped in dk choco.;champagne truffle; cardamom, and burnt orange. The only losers were the cardamom (i didn't taste any cardamom) and the burnt orange (tasted like orange oil to me) but the others were really wonderful. Lee mentioned that the sesame caramel filling had a little sesame oil in it; certainly one of the most unusual and satisfying filled chocs i've had.) The white choc pistachio are creamy rich with a silky smooth mouth feel and the crunch/punch of fresh pistachios; and the marzipan filled fig was (contrary to my concerns) not too sweet, and such an interesting textural experience! The champagne had a really neat spark to it and the presentation was so clever- like a conical party hat dabbed w/ gold.

        What a warm person Lee is. It's fun to see how kids really respond to her extra treats and friendliness. She's building a lot of happy memories for that neighborhood.........

        But, uh ohh, I think the Borrowers must have been here last night, because my Chocolee box is almost empty! Maybe i'll see some of you there next wkend :-}

        13 Replies
        1. re: opinionatedchef

          My 8 year old niece and I attended her truffle making class on Friday night and can confirm Lee's warm, welcoming way as well as her fine teaching technique. It was great fun and we had the best homework assignment ever.....consume the 2 dozen truffles we created. Really looking forward to the opening of her latest venture, Bread and Butter in the North End, the former Cafe Graffiti spot. Not chocolates but soups, salads, sandwiches, coffees and desserts. Coming this November, fingers crossed.

          1. re: tweetie

            awwwwwww, tweets! if i'd known she was going with you, i would have been there w/ a camera and a huge smile! that is soo cool. you must be the best aunt EVAH!!

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Now that she's got truffles under her chef's apron, it's on to the chocolate chip cookie contest at Lexington's 300th anniversary fair this weekend. Still debating over whether to go the the traditional route or thin and crispy...........

              1. re: tweetie

                With regards to almond paste (and our mutul love therof) i wanted to pass aong that Vickie Lee Boyajian's cafe in belmont, at the corner of Common and Belmont St., has large "Amaretti Cookies" and also Almond Horns. We tried a number of her cookies and they are quite good. Trad, but good. And, major applause, the ingreds are listed on the back of each title card ( even saying 'caillebaut chocolate'!) The Amaretti Cookies are not real amaretti but are VERY good, moist, strong almond flavor. The Almond Horn I got was moist inside but dried out on the outside, nowhere near as good as those at Mirabelle in Burlington Vt.) The Ginger was the dependable old Betty Crocker Molasses Crinkles recipe, done perfectly. Many more things of note. i was hoping to get dacquoise that had been reported on CH, but there was only vanilla w/ wh crm and stwb, and I always look for the coffee buttercream version, my fav.

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  thanks again, chef. I've perused the cases there but have always felt that most of her stuff is on par with what I can produce. My bakery purchases are usually limited to things I don't want to attempt, like croissants and finer confections that would likely lead to lots of expletives flying about my kitchen. Will definitely give the almond goodies a try. (and I haven't forgotten your kind offer to act as mule and carry treats across state lines for me! I wouldn't go for a year supply but a taste or two wouldn't be turned away, especially coming with your imprimatur.

                  1. re: tweetie

                    funny, i just emailed her today(alison/owner/pastry chef of mirabelle)to tell her we're coming up mid oct (right now, word is that foliage may be a bit early this yr.)
                    I've been urging her to start a mail order bus for her choc covered sea salt caramels (and expand into turtles, for which i have found no excellent source// dark choc and pecans required.) She is a busy girl. boy do i wish she would open a boston store but she's perfectly happy w/ her good life up there i think.

                    you let me know about those horns, or other (also she has exc almond and ham and cheese croissants; i get those too). Btw, at lee's truffle class, did you use a tempering machine? i bought one a few yrs ago,( v. exp)and i've never used it bec i don't know what to use for seeding chocolate, and i think we lost the directions booklet in a flood......I was wondering what she uses?

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      No tempering. She used the 11lb bar of Callebaut (Milk and dark) for the ganache and a bucket of coating chocolate (milk, dark and white) that I'd never seen before. The name escapes me but it began with B. I'm sure she'd be happy to share if you ask.

                      Caramels and turtles, now you're talking my language! Please try Turtle Alley in Gloucester or Salem where you can get both. Her turtles come in dark, milk and white, with all sorts of nuts, pecans, almonds, cashew and a few rifts with dried fruit like apricots, cranberries and cherries. I'd love your assessment. I believe Gloucester is closed on Monday.


                      Going to check Mirabelle's site now............

                      1. re: tweetie

                        Chatham Candy Manor on Main Street in Chatham has awesome turtles, also milk, dark, and white, and multiple nut combos.

                        1. re: tweetie

                          tweets, just came back from Turtle Alley (stopped by on way home from brunch at Five Corners Kitchen.) Unfortunately, the inferior quality of her dark chocolate is responsible for me not caring for her chocolates.The caramel in her turtles also lacked the requisite vanilla . The one success for me was the interesting complex flavor of the 'Spicy pnut butter cup' filling, but again, there was the effect of the poor chocolate coating. The counter guy said the dark choc was in the low 70% but imo that is clearly false. Maybe 55%. Maybe. No depth, no complexity, no velvety mouth feel.

                          (Btw, the new Tr J double box of filled chocs [in a navy blue and white paper gift bag], and the thin Dark bars with Coconut caramel, and Nut fillings, and their dark Choc. covered Powerberries-are surprisingly good for their very low cost. )

                          Back to Chocolee for me!

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Say it ain't so, chef! Next you'll be telling me that you aren't stockpiling Twinkies.......

                            I think it's best that all future communication be done through our attorneys.

                            happy turtle free thanksgiving!

                            1. re: tweetie

                              ha! you funny, girl! think of it this way, when you next head up there; turtle alley won't be out of anything because of me :-}

                        2. re: opinionatedchef

                          OC, I'm not that far north as Mirabelle is (I'm in Merrimack, NH) but I just saw my first red tree today from by back porch, which seems early to me. I guess it's gonna be an early leaf season this year.
                          Apples were early this year too - we did some apple picking last weekend in Londonderry (at Mac's) & they said last Sunday was the last day for the Honeycrisps - they were pretty much picked clean (but we still did get some great ones).

                      2. re: opinionatedchef

                        Thanks, OC....we can add this to Iggy's on our cookie list!! ;)

              2. Just got this Living Social Deal alert for Chocolee


                although there are already over 250 people signed up, so it could turn problematic. worth a phone call

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bellachefa

                  but bella, i don't wanna learn how to make her choc's. I wanna EAT them!! :-} (but thk you! )
                  tweetie took that class; see above. and she did get to eat what she made.

                2. The lady and I stopped in on Saturday after I saw all the chatter about this place. We picked up an assortment of truffles; I also couldn't resist a cream cheese brownie. "Teeny" is right -- this is about as small as a functioning storefront can be. Mrs. Napoli was chatting with a couple of gentlemen in the front of the store, and with the two of us in there, it felt a bit crowded.

                  I think that calling this chocolate "ethereal" is a little bit much -- if food is ethereal, it had better make me teary-eyed -- but it's certainly very very good. These were easily some of the best chocolate confections I've had, and it jumped to the top of my (short) list of places in Boston to send people who might be looking for this sort of thing. Taza and their damned 87% bars have sort of ruined my ability to love any other sorts of chocolate anythings.

                  I saw the croissants, but couldn't tell if she baked them there, and didn't ask. I'd have picked one up if I knew that she did, but I saw that a number of them were individually wrapped, which made me a little suspicious (though I'm sure that they were good even if she didn't make them).

                  The brownie was great, and the little salted caramel guy I had was exquisite. Alas, I didn't get to try the sesame: m'lady set the bag down on a table at Conor Larkin's (we were meeting a friend; don't ask) and forgot to pick it back up when we left. I doubt the drunken students who whoop and bounce around the place were curious enough to find and enjoy it. Damn.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: FinnFPM

                    well when you return for the sesame, make sure you order a couple of chocolate beignets which are a wow moment.

                    1. re: FinnFPM

                      I can attest to Lee's having made the croissant herself--she taught me how to make them when I worked for her at anago at the Lenox hotel! No dough sheeters or rollers, all muscle power. She did tell me when I visited her shop last year that she does her baking at a different location, so that might explain the wrapping.