Fess up: you’d do anything for chocolate – even put on your Uggs and parka in the midst of a Chicago blizzard to get your fix. No judgments here. Matter-of-fact, other chocoholics in the three-county area encompassing Metro Chicago would likely be ready to join you on the tundra. Give in to the temptation – if only to obey the orders your doc gave you when she recommended overdosing on antioxidants. You deserve a tour of Chicago’s chocolate hot spots. Just don’t let your dentist or Weight Watcher’s leader in on your plans.
You can’t fake it if you don’t make it. Chocolatier Michael Canady holds three-hour classes for folks who can’t get enough of the sweet brown stuff. During class, held at 6 p.m. weekday evenings (never on Wednesday) or 8 a.m. Sunday morning, learn the art of chocolate candy crafting from a skilled professional. Whip up cream fillings, refine your chocolate tempering skills, create a signature box of treats and then make the greatest sacrifice of all: taste everything in sight. Class fees aren’t cheap – What hedonistic experience is? – but it’s an intimate setting of just five to seven budding chocolatiers so you get a lot for your money. Register by calling (312) 212-1270.
You know the name, now win the game. Not everybody associates the name Ghirardelli with the annual DuPage County Fair, but if you’ve learned all there is to know about whipping up chocolates or you cut your candy making teeth by trial and error in your kitchen, earn street cred by participating in Ghirardelli’s Annual Chocolate Championship. Only a select number of state fairs are chosen by the San Francisco chocolate empire to host the annual brouhaha, and this Chicago collar county is high on the list. Call DuPage County Fair headquarters well in advance of the July event — (630) 668-6638 – and find out what you must do to rev up your candy thermometer. Pre-registration is required.
Make a date with Katrina. Interrupt your family reunion, business meeting or medical consult to visit any of Katrina Vosges’ Chicago chocolate boutiques. The gorgeous Padma Lakshmi doppelganger turns quirky recipes into yummy chocolates. Want bacon-infused dark chocolate? How about curry or cayenne? Even Julia Ormond didn’t go this far when she seduced Johnny Depp in “Like Water For Chocolate.” Katrina’s Vosges Haut-Chocolat shops are everywhere. Find one that’s nearby at http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/store_locator. If you jog there, the calories don’t count, but say you find the place closed when you arrive. No worries. On Friday and Saturday nights between 8 p.m. and Midnight, the Peninsula Hotel Lobby at 108 East Superior morphs into an extravagant Chocolate Bar. Think ubiquitous cruise ship dessert buffet on steroids. You may wish to call first so you’re not run over by zealots: (312) 573-6760.
Forget The Spa and Immerse Yourself in Chocolate. It’s such hard work earning one’s chocolate credentials. Classes. Driving. Evaluating. Practicing. Join the “Simplify Movement” by signing up for a formal Chicago Chocolate Tour that tackles all the work for you. Pioneered by native Chicagoan Valerie Beck, Chicago Chocolate Tours is her homage to the sweet treat and she proved her passion by hanging up her Harvard law degree to launch her biz. Visit all types of venues from well-hidden neighborhood candy shops to Chicago’s secret repositories, bakeries, cafes and boutiques. Eat and learn your way through a community of retailers hand-picked for each tour. Valerie’s tours cover neighborhoods like The Magnificent Mile/Gold Coast, Lakeview and the Loop. You can even book a private tour and lead your friends astray. Call (312) 929-2939 and talk chocolate. No translators required.