Chocolate and Valentine's Day have always been bosom buddies. A box of chocolates is second only to roses when it comes to the holiday clichés surrounding this celebration of all things lovey-dovey. Additionally, chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, which is actually a bit of a stretch. According to a few minutes of terribly unsexy research, I learned that chocolate's power over our libidos is marginal, if it exists at all. But there is something inherently sexy about chocolate. The way it tastes, the way it melts on the tongue and the way it can be drizzled on just about anything you want to put in your mouth makes it a welcome treat come mid-February. As chocolate is never too far from our minds this time of year, here's a list of some of Salt Lake's finest chocolate delicacies.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes at The Original Pancake House
It was a proud day when we finally outgrew our inhibitions about breakfast and started adding chocolate to the menu. There's really not a bad way to enjoy chocolate for the first meal of the day, and fluffy chocolate chip pancakes hit all the right buttons. It's a hard recipe to mess up, but there's something truly magical about the chocolate chip pancakes ($7.95) at The Original Pancake House. Rich seams of slowly-melting chocolate run through the giant stack of golden-brown pancakes like silver runs through a mountain. A healthy dose of maple syrup makes the sweetness sing, but don't be afraid to get some fresh strawberries for something a bit more decadent.
Multiple locations, ophutah.com
Drinking Chocolate at The Chocolate Conspiracy
One of the best aspects of chocolate is its dizzyingly complex flavor spectrum. For an unadulterated shot of the pure stuff that hits you right in the brain stem, try some chocolate drink mix ($3.50) from The Chocolate Conspiracy. If you're going to chase this particular brand of cocoa dragon, you first need to empty your mind of every hot chocolate experience you've ever had—this ain't that. It's a consciousness-expanding delve into the flavor complexities of pure dark cocoa, and you can get lost in it if you're not careful. I recommend starting with the four-ounce portion, but they do have an eight-ounce option ($6) if you're feeling saucy. You can even take a whole bag of the chocolate mix home for $17. Products from The Chocolate Conspiracy are available at most local grocery stores, but if you want a freshly-brewed cup of this magical beverage, you can visit their factory on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.
774 S. 300 West, 385-212-4474, eatchocolateconspiracy.com
Chocolate-on-chocolate cookies are among the finest culinary innovations known to humanity. Warm or cold, flat or fat, I've never met a chocolate-on-chocolate cookie I haven't liked. That being said, I can't say I've ever had one I've loved with a capital L—until I met the Frida ($2.50) at RubySnap. It's named after Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and it comes as close to encapsulating a historical figure as a cookie possibly can. The mound-shaped cookie takes its cue from the Mexican technique of spiking chocolate with a bit of heat—in this case, a chocolate ganache center with a chile de árbol mixture. It's a perfectly balanced cookie that captures the magic of chocolate when it tangos with chile pepper.
770 S. 300 West, 801-834-6111, rubysnap.com
Chocolate Beet Torte at Zest Kitchen & Bar
As I always strive to help our vegan and gluten-free communities live deliciously, I've also got a lovely plant-based option for all you chocolate lovers out there. The chocolate beet torte ($8) at Zest Kitchen & Bar is one of the finest chocolate desserts—vegan or otherwise—available in the city. Using beets and avocado, the geniuses at Zest have built a rich, velvety foundation for the chocolate flavor to play with. It sacrifices nothing for flavor and texture, and it's an absolute treat for the entire palate. Since each slice offers up a helping of vegetables, you have my permission to eat this wondrous dessert while dieting.
275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589, zestslc.com
Ruth's Chocolate Malt Pudding at Ruth's Diner
While I'm enjoying all of the items on this list right now, this is the one I'll be enjoying for the rest of my life. I paid due homage to Ruth's chocolate malt pudding ($4.99) during a previous review of Ruth's Diner—blessed be its name—but if we're talking about the best uses of chocolate as an ingredient and state of mind, this small manifestation of pure bliss has to make an appearance. It's everything you need in a chocolate dessert, plus so much more.
4160 Emigration Canyon Road, 801-582-5807, ruthsdiner.com