As a kid, I longed to visit the chocolate factory described in the eponymous Roald Dahl novel but more than a little freaked out by its proprietor. Thanks to The Chocolate Bar, however, I can indulge my literary gustatory fantasies without having to deal with Willy Wonka. This haven for Houstonians with serious sweet tooths has every manifestation of cocoa imaginable and all the treats you didn’t think (chocolate-covered fritos) but end up wanting anyway.

Packaged treats include seasonally decorated chocolate-dipped oreos, massive chocolate bricks, chocolate “pizzas” topped with colorful candy, and plenty of white, milk, and dark solid chocolate objects appropriate for birthdays, weddings, and baby showers. Finer cocoa confections can be found in the voluminous candy case, which offers a variety of truffles, chocolate creams, chocolate peanut butter cups, and chocolate-dipped fruit. There’s also a section that conclusively demonstrates that all snacks, be they sweet or salty, improve with the addition of chocolate; see twinkies, moon pies, and pretzels, all of which at the Chocolate Bar are available doused and drizzled in two layers of chocolate.

The aforementioned, however decadent, are easily trumped by what’s in the bakery case. The Chocolate Bar takes the concept of chocolate desserts to a whole new level with its 10-plus varieties of sky-high, multi-layer pies and cakes. In the “Uncle Darryl’s” cake, thick chocolate mousse is interspersed with moist discs of milk chocolate cake, then the whole thing is drenched in smooth ganache and sprinkled with buttery bits of toffee. Delicious alterations of flavor and consistency can also be found in the “Night and Day” cake, whose layers of dark chocolate cake are liberally coated with creamy white chocolate icing and miniature dark chocolate chips. The Chocolate Bar also transforms traditional options via the infusion of some flair, and of course, chocolate. Flan becomes “Flantastic” when the caramel mousse is combined with dark chocolate ganache; likewise, pecan pie becomes mind-blowing rich with a nut and cocoa filling.

Treats also run gamut in terms of temperature as well as taste and texture as hot chocolate is ladled out by the syrupy cupful during the “winter” and a dozen-odd flavors of chocolate-inspired ice cream are scooped the rest of the year.

Two locations makes The Chocolate Bar very easy to access, particularly if you live in the loop, so consider moving if you plan to live a cocoa-sober existence. The flagship Rice Village branch boasts ample seating as well as a design-your-own chocolate bar booth in its loud purple interior, which makes it a popular spot for birthday gatherings and impromptu group binges. So, even if you arrive in a bad mood with the intention of drowning your love life sorrows in a slab of chocolate goodness, the atmosphere is still likely to provoke a smile. Finally, be forewarned that entering The Chocolate means tacit acceptance you will indulge as the olfactory and visual overload trigger’s everyone inner chocoholism.

Joanna O'Leary

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