Food and Drink

World's Most Decadent Chocolate Tours

Are you jaded by "date-night" translating to "dinner and a movie" week after week? Set spark to your romance with a unique set of plans: a chocolate factory tour and tasting. Few can resist the temptations of rich, creamy chocolates, particularly the artisanal kind. Learn the ins and outs of chocolate making, then enjoy a guided tasting. Be sure to purchase a box of the delicacies to enjoy back home with a glass of red wine and sexy tunes on the stereo. The mood is set. Now read on to discover the world's most decadent chocolate tours.

Christine Rondeau, flickr
Mast Brothers Chocolate
Brooklyn, New York
Once upon a time, 2 brothers from Iowa began making chocolate -- literally from bean to bar -- in their Brooklyn apartment, perfecting each piece with an artisanal touch and wrapping them with handmade "butcher paper." Within 5 short years, their enterprise, Mast Brothers Chocolate, began receiving copious accolades, including "Best New American Chocolate" from Food & Wine magazine. Today, Mast Brothers has set up headquarters in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, and now offers tours of the factory on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m.; reservations are recommended. Tours take visitors on a journey through the entire chocolate-making process, where they can discover how the unusual flavors, like Fleur de Sel and Serrano Pepper, are made. As the tour comes to a close, guests enjoy a tasting of 5 chocolates, discovering how different beans yield different, mind-bogglingly delicious flavors.
EverJean, flickr
Brussels' Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop
Brussels
Belgian chocolates are indisputably among the world's finest, and Brussels is among Europe's most interesting capital cities. Why not explore both city and chocolate in one brilliant tour? Join the Brussels' Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop to see and learn about many of the city's highlights, like the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, the Comic Strip Route and the city gates.

Brussels' history and culture is then coupled with an extraordinary tour of many of the city's finest chocolatiers, including Godiva, Wittamer, Neuhaus and Pierre Ledent, where you'll get to sample some of the delectable wares. The 4-hour tour and workshop is capped off with a hands-on chocolate praline-making workshop. Guests will learn how to make these lovely delicacies, and even take home their own creations.
Scott Beale/LaughingSquid.com
TCHO Chocolate Walking Tours
San Francisco
While in Silicon Valley, make like the smart set and take an uber-educational and wildly thorough tour of the TCHO Chocolate Factory. The factory setting feels a lot like a science laboratory -- and that's a good thing. TCHO was founded by a former NASA scientist and funded by some of the people who started Wired magazine.

Still the TCHO tour isn't all brains and no fun. The hour-long factory tour is led by well-informed and amusing guides intent on educating you on all matters chocolate and sustainability, including how the company's artisanal chocolates are crafted and the ins and outs of fair trade; even guided tastings are offered. Tours are free, and reservations are recommended.
iStock
Perugina Chocolate Factory Tour and Chocolate School
Perugia, Italy
For nearly 100 years, Perugina has been churning out everyone's favorite Italian chocolate treat, Baci, which translates to "Kisses." Double the pleasure of your visit to Perugina's headquarters by combining a factory tour with a class at the Baci-maker's chocolate school. Each Baci chocolate is wrapped, or hugged, by a little love note, typically a brief quote about the magic of love and affection.

Plan a visit to the Casa del Cioccolato, and begin your tour with a visit to the Perugina Museum, where you'll discover the history of the acclaimed chocolate maker, as well as tokens of the Baci brand over the past century, followed by a chocolate tasting. After the museum, you'll enjoy a tour of the factory, looking into the chocolate workshop and production line. Finally, partake in a class at the Chocolate School, where you'll learn how to work with chocolate and even create your own chocolate treats. Reservations for the popular tours are recommended.
Nestle, flickr
Maison Cailler
Broc-Gruyère, Switzerland
Many chocolate lovers consider Switzerland home to the world's finest chocolatiers, and indeed many of the greats are located within the stunning country. Plan to visit one of Switzerland's oldest and most admired brands of chocolate, with a tour of Maison Cailler, where milk chocolate is said to have originated.

At Cailler, visitors can tour the factory, learning about the chocolate-making process in a very hands-on fashion, actually holding the freshly roasted cocoa beans, smelling the product as it's being produced, and of course, eating some of the delicacies. In addition to tours, Cailler also offers a series of chocolate-making classes, led by a Cailler chocolatier. Students will make their very own chocolates in classes on pralines, truffles and even Valentine's Day chocolate hearts.

About the Author

Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.

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