You won’t need to ask me twice! Stick With Me, a new destination in Nolita not much bigger than a chocolate box, offers hand-made delectables that defy the law of diminishing returns. Each one tastes as good as the last – the only problem is which one to choose first. The colours are as tempting as the flavors, and the perfection of row upon row of chocolate graduating from white through to dark makes it hard to believe these temptations could be so temperamental.
Susanna Yoon, the chef, chose to specialize in chocolate over pastry and bread for the sake of versatility, but also for the challenge. She works in a temperature controlled marble topped space, where the mere opening of a door, or sudden change in temperature can change the whole chemistry of a chocolate. Everything is handmade – the chocolate, the praline, custard, creams, biscuit – all the ingredients that are specific to the flavor and texture of the whole. Small batches are the key, taking time to set sometimes two or three layers separately. But the real secret is in Susanna’s enthusiasm, and for that Australia plays a role. A flag on the shoulder of her white jacket is displayed with pride, and she speaks with gusto about a recent trip Down Under where the smells and the air were as distinctive as the cafes.
The shelf life of Susanna’s chocolates is 7 to 10 days. They are made to be eaten fresh. The toffees may last longer, or not – the raspberry one I tasted was so natural I felt like I was suddenly in a berry patch in the middle of summer. You can’t bottle that. Although the packaging of book-like boxes and keepsake cylinders makes a colourful attempt. At the end of making and painting each piece, Susanna polishes the chocolates by hand, which she says is not that different from polishing diamonds. What a perfect parallel, for this young and talented woman, her devotion to quality is just as rare.