B.T. McElrath vs. Chocolat Céleste: A holiday chocolate showdown
As if the Minnesota History Center's "Chocolate" exhibit doesn't provide enough excuses to indulge this fall, the Hot Dish is here to tempt you with locally made seasonal chocolates. We tested our sweet tooth against pumpkin truffles from Chocolat Céleste and sweet potato pavé from B.T. McElrath. Read on to discover our favorite--as long as someone else is treating.
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Chocolat Céleste's bonbons are available by mail or for pickup. Better to splurge on the sweets themselves than shipping, we reasoned, so we swung by Mary Leonard's shop at 652 Transfer Ave. in St. Paul for a four-pack of pumpkin truffles.
The truffles, which come in festive orange foil, are hefty--nearly golf-ball sized. The filling is rich and buttery, with a subtle finish of pumpkin spice. Because the chocolate coating is so eggshell-thin, it lets the flavor of the filling sing.
Our only complaint? The price. Listed for $13 on Céleste's website, the truffles actually cost $17 ($21 with the gift box). When we realized the discrepancy and called the company, we were told the lower price was the webmaster's mistake--end of discussion. (The next day, the truffles were listed online for $21.)
Local chocolatier B.T. McElrath, has chocolates widely available in the Twin Cities. We picked up a five-pack of his sweet potato pavé at the nearest Byerly's. Listed for $10.95 on his website, the chocolates cost just $9.99 at the grocery store.
These chocolates had a thicker chocolate shell, so the dark chocolate was the main flavor. The sweet potato white chocolate ganache filling was subtle compared to its vibrant orange color, just a quick burst of creamy sweetness on the tongue.
The winner: We have to admit, if someone else is buying, Chocolat Céleste is our preferred indulgence. The fall flavor is up front, and the investment in local butter and cream for the filling pays off. (For more local pumpkin truffles for slightly less, there's also Just Truffles. Heck, even Godiva has a five-pack for $13.) Since McElrath's chocolates are half the price of Céleste's, we would recommend them, too. They're smartly packaged and pleasing to dark chocolate lovers, even if the sweet potato flavor is understated.