Sunday, Aug 07th

Handmade Chocolate and More at the Chocolate Box Cafe

chocolatebox1According to Forrest Gump,"Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're gonna get."

A good life is not just any box of chocolate, but one in which you know exactly what you get, namely chocolate prepared with fine quality ingredients by talented chocolatier Sabrina Seetarram, at her glittering new café, The Chocolate Box, conveniently located directly across from the Crestwood train station.

The Chocolate Box, is the brainchild of Seetarram, who designed the cozy spot along with construction by George Retsinas of Spartan Builders. All kitchen essentials, appliances, marble slabs, and tempering machines are tucked behind the counter and display cases, filled with homemade delights. It is amazing how efficiently the small space is used. The Chocolate Box is a feast for the eyes with sparkly pink walls, framed photos of chocolates lining the walls, shelves and display cases filled with confections and overseeing it all, a framed photo of Sabrina's mentor, her grandmother. Sabrina cooked at her grandmother's side as a child and continued pursuing her passion as she matured. Eventually she enrolled in Peter Kump's School to study pastries and at The French Culinary Institute where she gained expertise in preparing chocolates. The very enthusiastic Sabrina said she enjoys observing people eating and enjoying their experience. "The chocolates and food I'm preparing are gifts to the recipients. And they are meaningful gifts. I love connecting with my guests with chocolate and food." Sabrina believes that packaging is important. When customers are purchasing chocolates as a gift, sturdy and attractive boxes are available.

chocolatebox2The 16 seat café is much more than a chocolate shop. They serve lovely selections for breakfast and lunch and wonderful coffee and tea selections in many varieties. To suit busy lifestyles, The Chocolate Box offers fully cooked dinners to take home, heat and eat. If you call ahead you will get the weekly menu. Each dinner includes an entrée, a carb, a vegetable and dessert.

On a recent visit I was tempted by the display of chocolates, but my tasting started with some savory dishes, since I was brought up believing that you can't have dessert until you have finished your entrée. Breakfast dishes here included fresh daily baked croissants in several varieties, cinnamon buns, Danish, yogurt parfaits and steel cut oatmeal with a variety of toppings. I savored a frittata, which was baked with ham, eggs, cheddar and roasted peppers among its ingredients. Served on a spinach and feta pinwheel, it was a nice way to start the day. Also intriguing on the breakfast menu was an assortment of stuffed bagel balls. Here, bagel dough is shaped into small balls and stuffed with a variety of flavored cream cheeses. Sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds, they proved to be a neat way to enjoy a bagel --easy to take with you on the train with your morning coffee or perfect for a breakfast buffet at home.

Lunch suggestions are all freshly prepared each day. Many of the hot dishes are cooked in a pressure cooker for fast tender results. BBQ braised beef with slow cooked pulled beef was enhanced with homemade barbecue sauce. A bit of bourbon gave it a great taste. It was served on herb focaccia. The Mediterranean grilled vegetable sandwich with eggplant, Portobello mushrooms and peppers worked well with skordalia, the Greek potato and garlic spread. Feta cheese topped this divine sandwich on focaccia. Salads are assembled in full view behind the counter. chocolatebox3The soups of the day generally include a fish or meat and a vegetarian selection. I sampled New England clam chowder with potatoes and carrots and fresh clams prepared with lactaid rather than cream for a fine result. A curried chicken salad and an Italian tuna salad were being assembled in full view at our recent visit. The curry chicken was outstanding with its medley of flavors -- just the right amount of curry without being overpowering. Black olives gave a Mediterranean flair to the tuna salad. Yet to be tried are a chef salad, iceberg wedge and pate crostini with fig spread, caramelized onions and pate.

Onto the piece de resistance, Sabrina's homemade chocolates. There are colorful chocolate dipped pretzels, oreos, lollipops, marshmallows and a variety of barks. The chocolate is a combination of a variety of chocolate resulting in a smooth and snappy consistency. Molded chocolates to honor many occasions are custom made. Then there are the ganache filled bon bons with a large and original variety of flavor. With no preservatives they are exceptional. These mouth watering confections were the highlight of my tasting. The lemon curd ginger and vanilla were so flavorful. For those who like a wake up call with their chocolate, try the triple threat bon bons . chocolatebox4Here the ganache is flavored with jalapeno, ancho and chipotle chili. Topping my list of favorites are the mendiants. These are generally a Christmas confection in Provence. Here, these quarter sized disks are garnished with assorted toppings. The dark chocolate mendiants were topped with almonds, pistachios and dried tart cherries. These are a mouthful of deliciousness with a hint of sweet, tart and salt, wonderful at any time of year. At The Chocolate Box they are prepared with white chocolate, as well. All of the chocolates are prepared in small batches with a short shelf life ..... not a problem since they will probably be devoured in a very short time.

I try to remember a suggestion I recently read about... "Put eat chocolate on the top of your to do list. That way at least you will get one thing done. "In the words of Sabrina, "Chocolate IS the answer.". May I add, it doesn't matter what the question is.

Enjoy these excellent confections at The Chocolate Box in addition to light meals soon.

The hours at The Chocolate Box are very convenient for commuters:
Weekdays-6 am --6.30 pm
Saturday – 8AM – 3 PM
Sunday 9am-3pm

The Chocolate Box
300 A Columbus Avenue
Tuckahoe, NY
(914) 714 0677

Recipe: Simple Vanilla Ganache

200 Grams Semisweet Chocolate Chips
200 Grams Heavy Cream
2 Vanilla Beans

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Scrape the inside of the pods with the blade of a knife. Remove the beans and place them in a medium saucepan. Pour in the heavy cream and the vanilla pods. Stir constantly bringing to a slow boil. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla pods. Pour the hot cream and vanilla beans over the chocolate in the bowl. Let the mixture sit for about five minutes to give the chocolate time to soften. Mix vigorously until mixture is completely uniform. Now you have ganache which you can pour over ice cream, cakes or cupcakes. Once cooled and thickened place in a pastry bag or use an offset spatula to spread on cupcakes, fill cake layers or place between cookies. Or eat a spoonful at a time... It will last in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

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