Take a walk on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail

This post on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail was updated 11/30/2015

Willy Wonka would have loved the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. The man was really onto something: chocolate. This food (whose official Latin name is, Theobroma cacao (food of the gods) has been making people smile for millennia. Chocolate started out as a bitter elixir consumed by the elite of Mesoamerica. Sweetener was added when it was brought to Spain by Cortez to please the local palate. The solid form, so popular today, wasn’t  introduced until the mid-19th century. It’s been delighting people ever since.

Chocolate aficionados will love the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, an informal group of four chocolatiers now scattered around the downtown area.

Kakawa Chocolate House

Kakawa Chocolate House on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail a stop on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail photo Steve Collins

Kakawa Chocolate House on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, photo Steve Collins

Kakawa Chocolate House 1050 Paseo De Peralta, specializes in handcrafted dark chocolates and chocolate elixirs. The elixirs were from New World elixirs dating back to Mayan and Incan times when chocolate was considered the Food of the Gods. The shop serves elixirs inspired by Mezomerian recipes rich with herbs, spices, chiles and even flowers. They also serve elixirs based on Old World recipes created when Spanish explorers returned from the New World with cacao in hand. They also have a selection of elixirs that pay homage to the drinking chocolate found in colonial America and some that were designed with the contemporary palate in mind.  Some elixirs are prepared with water and some with milk. Good news for dairy-free and vegan people: some are prepared with almond milk. Kakawa also uses low-glycemic sweeteners such as coconut sugar in the elixirs. You can even take home dry, granulated chocolate and recreate these heavenly treats at home. The shop also has a selection of handcrafted truffles, luscious caramels made with agave syrup, mendiants (dark chocolate disks studded with nuts and dried fruit) and gluten-free deserts. If you aren’t in Santa Fe, you can visit Kakawa’s website and have chocolates shipped directly to you..  Besides elixirs, they create small-batch truffles, agave caramels, solid dark chocolates, gluten-free baked goods, and house made ice cream.

CG Higgins Confections

CG Higgins' Lincoln Avenue location a stop on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. They also have their original location on Nanita Street photo Steve Collins Santa Fe NM

CG Higgins on Lincoln Avenue on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, photo Steve Collins

CG Higgins Confections, which originally started as Chuck’s Nuts, began making candy in 2007 at a small location at the intersection of Saint Francis Drive and the hard-to-find Ninita Street. After the shop “discovered” by Road Food with the Neelys on the Food Network, people went out of their way to find it. Now owner Chuck Higgins has made it easy and convenient for candy lovers to buy his confections. He recently opened a second location at 130 Lincoln Avenue, a block from the Santa Fe Plaza. This bright airy shop, very different from the cozy original location (still operating), attracts shoppers as they walk down the street. CG Higgins’s Confections offers a large assortment of hand-rolled, hand-dipped chocolate truffles, fudge, caramel corn, brittles, and more. Higgins says his truffles are unique. Instead of a ganache as the base, he uses fudge and tweaks it with flavors and other natural ingredients, which he says, gives them a longer shelf life without using preservatives.

While truffles are his best sellers, Higgins boasts that he makes the best brittles in North America. He attributes this to the altitude (baking soda reacts differently at 7,000 feet), the dry climate and the small production batches done by hand.  And, if you can’t make it to Santa Fe, CG Higgins ships.

Chocolate Smith

Chocolate Smith a stop on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail photo Steve Collins

Candy on display at Chocolate Smith, Cerrillos Road on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, photo/Steve Collins

Chocolate Smith, at 851 Cerrillos Road (505-473-2111) since 2003, has an array of chocolate treats to please any palate. The light, contemporary flagship store is so spotlessly clean it looks like you could eat off the floors. The candy kitchen is in plain-site so customers can see the candy makers at work. Owners, Jeff and Kari Keenan, say they produce “honest chocolate, in full view of our customers”. They pride themselves in using local and organic ingredients wherever possible. Their signature chocolates are the wax-wrapped (think Gouda Cheese) chocolate paté and their addictive, White Chocolate Lemon Lavender Bark. And if you can’t get to Santa Fe, order on their website. They also have a booth at the Santa Fe Farmers Market Shops.

Todos Santos

Todos Santos a stop on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail

Todos Santos on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, photo Steve Collins

Todos Santos, (125 East Palace Avenue (505) 982-3855), a tiny shop in the courtyard in the historic Sena Plaza, offers artisanal chocolates, and confections. The shop’s name translates as “All Saints” and refers to owner Hayward Simoneaux’s love of the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. The funky interior evokes Mexico with muerto heads, milagros (symbols used when praying for miracles), papel picardo (Mexican cut paper decorations), flowering overhead branches dripping with kitsch, and more decorate every inch of the small space. Their signature offerings are chocolate milagros covered in gold and silver leaf. Simoneaux creates these incorporating the gold and silver leaf techniques he learned as a picture-framer. He also makes toffees, a signature chocolate bar and nut clusters. The shop also offers marzipan, nougats, hard candies, and caramels, sourced from France, Italy and Belgium as well as confections from small artisanal producers from around the United States. Simoneaux is not an Internet kind of guy. If you want to buy his unusual offerings, you have to phone the shop and chat. Hours are roughly Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Sundays by chance. Call before you go, if the spirit moves him, Simoneaux may lock the door and take off.

Chocolate lovers, if you’re in Santa Fe and need a fix, get out on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. And don’t forget, if you can’t get here you can get most of these great Santa Fe Chocolate Trail offerings right from home due modern miracle known as the Internet.

What’s your favorite stop on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail?


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19 Responses to “Take a walk on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail”

  1. Leigh
    July 31, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

    I bet this was a tough post to research! I think it must have required quite a bit of taste testing. I certainly don’t associate chocolate and Santa Fe so good to know there’s yet another facet of the city to check out on my next visit.

    • Billie Frank
      July 31, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

      Hey- someone had to do it. We’re had the pleasure of tasting the goodies at each and every one of them and each has it’s own unique niche. Not many people associate us with chocolate. And though I didn’t get into it- most places here do chile chocolates. Great combo!

  2. Gil Garduno
    February 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm #

    Still the best feature on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail! Very we’ll done, Billie.

    • Billie Frank
      February 1, 2019 at 2:57 pm #

      Thanks, Gil. That’s high praise coming from you. Maybe it’s because I love chocolate so much.

  3. Nancy Thompson
    February 3, 2019 at 11:47 am #

    What a delightful and delicious post and one I’ll refer to on my next visit to Santa Fe. Thank you from a chocolate lover.

  4. Neva Fels
    February 3, 2019 at 1:01 pm #

    After eating too many Super Bowl game watching snacks, I need a chocolate fix. Beautiful photos as always and I’m sure it was tough sampling and choosing the best.

    • Billie Frank
      February 3, 2019 at 2:01 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words about the photos. I had to do a lot of tasting- it was tough work but someone had to do it-lol.

  5. Irene S Levine
    February 3, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

    I was thrilled to visit Kakawa when we were in Santa Fe. What a neat place. The hot chocolate was amazing!

    • Billie Frank
      February 3, 2019 at 7:28 pm #

      I go in to buy sugar-free chocolate periodically and always taste whatever dairy-free elixirs on offer that day. They are amazing@

  6. Patti Morrow
    February 3, 2019 at 7:11 pm #

    How did I miss this when I was in Santa Fe last? Looks great… I just I’ll just have to go back!

    • Billie Frank
      February 3, 2019 at 7:27 pm #

      You haven’t been reading out blog-lol.

  7. Johanna
    February 3, 2019 at 9:47 pm #

    As a self confessed chocoholic, I can absolutely say that this Santa Fe trail is one I’d do for sure! Yum!

  8. Nancie
    February 4, 2019 at 4:10 pm #

    I would probably die (or get very fat) deciding which ones to sample!
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  9. Jerome Shaw
    February 4, 2019 at 5:28 pm #

    A trek from chocolate shop to chocolate shop sounds like my kind of trekking. Sign up for this hike, I’m taking notes and plan to visit them in May.

    • Billie Frank
      February 4, 2019 at 7:24 pm #

      Take your group- they’ll love you and there are great photo ops getting to the downtown ones.

    • Billie Frank
      February 4, 2019 at 7:25 pm #

      And take your group- they’ll love you for it. Great photo ops along the way.

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