In the Beginning, There Was Chocolate

Le Chocolatier
3718 West 32nd Avenue (between Meade and Newton in Highlands)
303-455-3431
Closed Monday; see website for other hours
Will deliver in the metro Denver area
Bus directions: the 32 stops right near the store

Chocolatier: “A maker or seller of chocolate candy” (from Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

Le Chocolatier was the third chocolate shop I visited in one afternoon, and I spent a lot of time there talking with Patty Moore, who’s been running it almost four years. Unlike other chocolatiers in Denver, she doesn’t make any of her chocolates but rather sells Neuhaus chocolates, Telluride Truffles, ralph’s sweets, and other products. Neuhaus has about 200 chocolates, so she rotates through their selection because she doesn’t have room to offer all of them at once.

It’s true Le Chocolatier doesn’t have a lot of space, but there is room for a few people to mill about from the Neuhaus case to the other case containing the small, brightly colored Telluride Truffles. Patty says it’s trendy now to put color in the mold (the outside of the candy).

Get ten people in this store, however, and it would be enough to melt the candy.

We began talking about the longevity of chocolate shops in Denver, and she said she did a lot of research before starting hers up. Some of the knowledge she passed on to me: The word praline is pronounced “prah-lee-nay” and refers to a nut paste (usually with hazelnut, but it may not contain nuts at all) that goes into the mold. A ganache (ga-nash), in contrast, is a chocolate cream.

She said that most of the other chocolatiers in Denver who make their own chocolates (the candies, not the ingredient) order hard chocolate or chocolate nibs from Callebaut (which she pronounced “kall-a-bow”). The only chocolatier in Denver who makes his own chocolate (the ingredient), according to Patty, is Steve DeVries. Some of that goes into chocolate bars sold at several stores in the Denver metro area.

I bought only five chocolates from Le Chocolatier (though I’ve sampled them on other occasions): art nouveau (ganache with hazelnut), a butter truffle (chocolate butter cream dusted with cocoa powder), a lime praline (no hazelnuts), a palet dark (what looked like a communion wafer made from dark chocolate), and a specialty item for the Democratic National Convention called Donkey Chocolates (handmade by B. T. McElrath in Minneapolis, where the Republican National Convention is now happening).

According to the Neuhaus website, more than one-third of its pralines are still made individually, by hand. Those I bought were certainly elegant, and they were all good. I think the lime was my favorite—its flavor is a bit reminiscent of Dagoba lime chocolate bars.

But what I enjoyed most was getting the skinny on the Denver chocolate scene from Patty.