Great holiday gifts on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail

For some people, chocolate is a mystical experience-even better than sex. If you want to make these folks smile, give them luxurious chocolates for the holidays. While traditional confections will more than do the trick, put a new spin on it; shop The Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. The four shops on the route have some interesting takes on the bean, including use of that New Mexico staple, chile. If you’re not planning to be in Santa Fe this holiday season, these unique shops do mail order and all but one are on the web.

Kakawa Chocolate House
1050 E. Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501
505-983-0388

Kakawa Chocolate House, located in an old adobe building on Paseo de Peralta in the historic area of town, is dedicated to the ancient art of chocolate. Their name is derived from the Aztec word for chocolate; their specialty, Mayan elixirs. They also offer European versions of this New World drink brought to the Continent by returning Spanish explorers. The good news for gift-shoppers is that these restorative drinks come in wafers that can easily be shipped. Add a hand-made mug to the wafers and you have a great gift. Your chocolate-lover will think of you while sipping a cup of the delicious brew on a cold winter evening.

Their website offers chocolate elixir wafers in three categories. The Mesoamerican-style wafers are infused with native herbs or their modern equivalents. Most are unsweetened. The European varieties use sweeteners. The latest addition is a selection of contemporary wafers; a modern interpretation of European-style elixirs adapted to 21st century taste-buds. And great news for health-conscious chocolate lovers, Kakawa uses honey and agave syrup as sweeteners.

Kakawa also offers a selection of hand-rolled, hand-dipped truffles made in-house. The selection varies depending on what they are creating at the moment. There is almost always a New Mexico chile truffle available. Kakawa sources many of their ingredients locally.

Favorite: dark chocolate, chile truffle.

Chocolate Smith
851A Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
(505) 473-2111

Chocolate Smith occupies a modern, antiseptically clean shop on Cerrillos Road. Featured on the Food Network’s Road Tasted with the Neelys, the shop’s unusual specialty is chocolate pâté. Ganache is shaped, chilled and then hand-dipped ten times in the same European-style wax that coats Gouda cheese. The pâté comes in six flavors including a local ancho chile version. There are a variety of shapes; red and green chiles are a staple. There are also animals, southwestern themed shapes and seasonal ones for holidays.

Their web-site offers the pates, Signature Selections which include the Dark Chocolate Chile Sampler, the Santa Fe Sampler and the Chile Bark Sampler; Custom Selections to personalize your gift and a selection of interesting odds and ends under the Unique Gifts umbrella.

Favorite: White chocolate, lemon, lavender bark. While technically not chocolate (it’s made from cocoa butter, not cocoa) it’s addictive

CG Higgins Confectioners

CG Higgins Confectioners is easier to find on the Internet than in person. The small shop is at the intersection of St. Francis Drive and tiny Ninita Street; you can easily drive right past it. Ever since the shop was featured on Road Tasted with the Neelys (same episode as Chocolate Smith) people go out of their way to get there. The business, originally called Chuck’s Nuts (after owner Chuck Higgins) had a name-change in 2007 to better reflect the shop’s new direction, candy making. Besides chocolates Higgins makes caramel corn, fudge and brittles.

Their website offers chocolate drinks, fudge, caramel corn, brittles and a variety of non-food items. Higgins says 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 that the candy is made in small production batches by hand.

Favorite: Chile pecan brittle

Todos Santos
125 E Palace Ave # 31
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2042
(505) 982-3855

Walking into Todos Santos, a tiny shop in the courtyard at historic Sena Plaza is like stepping into a shop south of the border. The décor is funky Mexican. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) heads, milagros (symbols used when praying for miracles), Mexican cut paper decorations, flowering over-head branches dripping with kitsch and more decorate every inch of the small space. The shop’s been featured on the Food Network’s Giada’s Weekend Getaways, and Food Finds.

Owner Hayward Simoneaux incorporates the gold and silver leaf techniques he learned as a picture-framer in his signature edible gold and silver leaf covered milagros. Also house-made: toffees, a signature chocolate bar and nut clusters. The shop also offers marzipan, nougats, hard-candies, caramels and more sourced from France, Italy and Belgium. Shoppers will also find confections from small artisanal producers Simoneaux has discovered in the United States.

Simoneaux is not an Internet kind of guy. He doesn’t even have an email account. If you want to buy his unusual offerings, you have to phone the shop and chat. Hours are roughly 10-6, Sundays by chance. If the spirit moves him, Simoneaux may lock the door and take off.

Favorite: Dark chocolate truffles

Authors’ note: As a former hotel concierges and owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business in Santa Fe, the writers may have been guests of business or services mentioned in posts on this site. While these experiences have not influenced us in any way, this information is provided in the spirit of full disclosure.

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5 Responses to “Great holiday gifts on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail”

  1. Jeff Titelius
    December 7, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

    I can’t think of a better way to appeal to people during the holidays than with an article tantalizing smooth and silky chocolate indulgences!!! Nice article! Oh, and by the way, beautiful new website. I really love your new format!!!

  2. Calvin Barthel
    December 17, 2019 at 10:28 pm #

    What a great article. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  3. LeslieTravel
    December 28, 2019 at 9:14 pm #

    Mmmm… chocolate! What a great gift

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