There’s something about the taste and aroma of chocolate that comforts the soul and satisfies the sweetest sweet tooth. Santa Fe winters are prime time for indulging in chocolate. For one thing, the colder temperatures mean we can eat chocolate without it melting on our fingers, not that it’s ever stopped us before. For another thing, we can savor seasonal treats like drinking chocolates and chile-spiced chocolate candies.
Chocolate has been a cherished New Mexican food for about a thousand years. In 2009, University of New Mexico anthropologist Patricia L. Crown discovered the first evidence of chocolate consumption in North America from pottery vessels excavated at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. Chocolate has had a strong New Mexican presence ever since.
Today Santa Fe residents and visitors can enjoy hand-crafted chocolate candies and drinking chocolates, also known as elixirs, crafted by artisanal chocolate makers. Five of them are stops on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. Didn’t know we had one of those? Check it out here.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s happening at each of these chocolate destinations. All five are located close enough to each other to reach in an afternoon’s drive. Check online or call ahead to confirm opening hours.
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Cacao Santa Fe curates cacao beans from around the world and handcrafts them to make specialty chocolate bars with beans sourced from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Hawaii. They’re also known for their sipping of chocolates and elixirs. The former is akin to hot cocoa you make with milk or non-dairy nut milk. Their chocolate elixirs are infused with chiles, prickly pear, or lavender. Two of Cacao Santa Fe’s drinking chocolate elixirs (Colonial New Mexican and Zapotec Tejate) won bronze medals at the 2020 International Chocolate Awards competition in Hanover, Germany.
You can shop online for Cacao Santa Fe boxed chocolates, sipping chocolates and elixirs, and chocolate bars, plus small-batch gourmet coffee. The store is open for curbside pickup. Call to order by phone and schedule a pickup time. Window walkup hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM.
ChocolateSmith makes chocolate right in front of their customers. The smell of chocolate pervades the shop where you can see chocolate churned and tempered a la the chocolate river in the classic movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” ChocolateSmith specializes in chocolate candies, caramels, and confections like chocolate bark and chocolate-covered nuts. One of their signature confections is the red chili pecans.
Chili chocolate lovers can also choose from an array of chocolates infused with chiles. Varieties include green chile pistachio bark, red chile pistachio bark, and a dark chocolate ganache infused with ancho green chile. Peanut butter and chile chocolates? Yes, please. This is one of their hotter types. ChocolateSmith is open for in-store pickup and you can also order online.
When you sample drinking chocolate from Kakawa, you’re drinking history. Kakawa recreates recipes from Mesoamerica, Europe, and colonial North America to make their artisanal elixirs. Chocolate lovers can choose elixirs flavored with chilies, citrus zest, lavender, rum, or orange blossoms, just for starters. All their elixirs are available for online purchase.
Kakawa chocolates are crafted from 80% dark chocolate. Chile fans will love the chile dark chocolates made with chiles from New Mexico, Mexico, and the Northern Sonoran Desert. Love peppermint? Go for the peppermint solid dark chocolates. Kakawa takes chocolate-covered caramels to the next level with creations infused with ingredients like lavender, roasted piñon nuts, and rose oil. All Kakawa products including chocolates are available for online delivery. Takeout and curbside pickup is available at their flagship store on Paseo De Peralta. They have a second location near Meow Wolf.
In business since 1971, Señor Murphy now has four Santa Fe locations. The one on the Chocolate Trail is on East San Francisco Street in La Fonda Hotel. Handcrafted chocolates, toffees, and caramels are made in the European tradition. Santa Fe’s history and cuisine is honored with selections like chile creams, chile piñon brittle, and chile pistachio bark. Chocolate lovers can concentrate on boxed chocolates all in the same variety or mix it up with assorted boxed chocolates.
Señor Murphy chocolates are available for online ordering. The chocolate will come to you even if you live in Santa Fe. Order online from their home page.
This award-winning chocolate maker honors New Mexico’s chocolate tradition with hand-rolled and hand-dipped truffles. An amazing variety of more than 27 different truffle flavors are available at their Cerrillos Road confectionery and full-service cafe—including New Mexico green chile, blackberry-balsamic, candied orange, and jalapeño-lime. Sweet Santa Fe also makes chocolate bark, sipping chocolate, and fudge. With all that chocolate you can also call to order sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and more. Or you can just order more truffles. Call ahead for pick-up at 505-428-0012.
Established in 2018 and carrying on the legacy of local chocolatier C.G. “Chuck” Higgins, Sweet Santa Fe placed third in the artisan chocolate category in Best of Santa Fe just three months after opening. In 2020, Sweet Santa Fe earned 10 Scovie Awards, including first place for their New Mexico chocolate-and-chile-dipped bacon.