Flavorsome Vegas Chocolate Tour

At 9 a.m. the staff inside M&M World along the iconic Las Vegas Strip, open the double doors and enthusiastically greet fans. Uplifting music wafts out into the sidewalk as they happily wave to candy fans and hand each person a collapsable bag. This is one of the many immersive stops on the new Vegas Chocolate Tour.

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Our tour guides Joni Moss and Shaena Engle led us through the colorful four level 28,000 square foot store to the third floor. We were offered the opportunity to create our own one-of-a-kind M&M’S. The store has a printer that imprints customized messages and images on 16 different colors of M&M’S candies. Images include the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, a deck of cards, wedding bells, and champagne.

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We typed our first name on a computer, selected up to four images and went to the candy counter to push a lit button to watch the magic begin. Afterwards, guests can receive their candies in a clear plastic bag or upgrade for a themed cylinder container.

Besides just about every type of M&M logo clothing and accessories available to purchase, the store has a replica of Kyle Busch’s 18 M&M’S sponsored NASCAR, along with tons of colorful M&M’S Racing merchandise.

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Stop #2 on the Vegas Chocolate Tour is across the street from M&M World at Hershey’s Chocolate World, inside the famous New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Stepping into this unique chocolate retail store, chocolate lovers learn all about Hershey’s chocolates and candies at this multi-level West Coast flagship store. Besides exclusive Hershey’s products and gifts, they have a cafe filled with delicious treats and chocolate covered strawberries.

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Highlights at this stop include seeing a sculpture of the Statue of Liberty made out of almost 800 lbs. of HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate, and another sculpture made from Twizzlers.

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We customized our own chocolate bars, and some in the group starred in a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup television ad.

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Stop #3 on the Vegas Chocolate Tour was the iconic Las Vegas Welcome sign. Seeing a line of 30 people waiting to take a photo, I learned Vegas Chocolate Tour guests receive front of line access and the opportunity to meet Elvis.

This 25 ft. tall Western Neon sign was erected in 1959 and is now placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interiors.

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Guests receive a variety of chocolate tastings throughout the tour, including a pour of ChocoVine, a fine red French Cabernet subtly combined with a rich dark chocolate from Holland.

With one sip this decadent, silky smooth drink is similar to an after dinner liqueur. We discussed how it would be wonderful on the rocks or as the main ingredient for a creative Sin City cocktail or poured over vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

Another unique chocolate taste is a Goufrais candy. In Germany they call this delicious German cocoa confection, “KaKao-Konfekt.”  They are not available in stores, only online. Later tastes of Celebrity chef Thomas Keller’s K+M Extravirgin Chocolates bars are sampled.

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Stop #4 on the Vegas Chocolate Tour is the famous Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden. Take a self-guided chocolate factory tour and watch the Ethel M candy makers on the factory floor. Descriptions are displayed at each window about how they make the famous Vegas chocolates, package and box them for online requests and their retail stores. This extensive chocolate store also has a classroom offering informative wine and chocolate classes at an additional fee.

During this stop guests have time to purchase a hot chocolate and explore the beautiful three-acre Botanical Cactus Garden featuring over 300 different varieties of cactus. During the holiday season this area is decorated with lights making it into a winter wonderland.

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The last stop #5 on the Vegas Chocolate Tour is Hollywood Cafe inside Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino for an over-the-top unique milkshake. For those looking for something other than chocolate, Joni will pre-order you a vanilla and banana or strawberry shake. This is where the quintessential chocolate shake is made. It’s enhanced with a chocolate brownie, whipped cream, M&M’s, peanut butter cups, chocolate syrup, and a crispy cookie.

The memorable Vegas Chocolate Tour is ideal for any chocolate loving couple, family, pre or post wedding outing, bachelorette party, girlfriend getaway or guys weekend.

To book an experience, click here Vegas Chocolate Tour.

Chocodiem Belgian Artisan Chocolates

With holiday party invitations arriving, this is the time to gather a few small thoughtful gifts, to hand to the host and hostess upon your arrival, as a token of appreciation and holiday cheer.

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For a sweet gift, the holiday Chocodiem Gift box is pretty in pink and chocolate brown. The uniquely crafted Belgian Artisan Chocolates are made in small batches by Belgian chocolatier Jean-Paul “JP” Hepp. As the founder and co-owner, he makes beautiful chocolates and truffles, and boxes them in elegant signature 12, 9, 6 or 3-piece gift boxes.

Holiday flavors include Gingerbread and Peppermint along with Pearl Truffle w/ a Dark center, Raspberry, Espresso, Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Belgian Rocher, Milk Chocolate Caramel and Orange Cayenne.

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Other unique flavors include Red Wine truffles using Tolino Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Espresso truffles made with Fieldstone’s Kickin Goat espresso, and craft beer truffles infused with the delicious Cacao Porter from Shawnee Brewery.

The two chocolate boutiques are located in Easton, PA and another in Clinton, NJ. Go online to see and order Holiday Gifts starting at $7 for a gift bag of Almond & Espresso Beans. Chocolate Gift Boxes are $11 on up. https://chocodiem.com/favors-gifts/ or call (610)829-2722.

Kollar Chocolates in Yountville

IMG_7639While driving through the one street town of Yountville in Napa Valley, stop at the V-Marketplace and visit Chef Chris Kollar and Naomi Pasztor at Kollar Chocolates.

Chris Kollar has been a savory chef for over 19 years. In 2001, he moved to Napa Valley and worked in some of the finest restaurants that include Domaine Chandon and as an Executive Chef at Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga. He used to cook steaks and chops, now he makes handmade chocolates.

When Chris met Naomi from Switzerland, the two decided to combine their passion of chocolate and open a modern chocolate kitchen and store in the V-Marketplace. Their kitchen is open with glass windows for guests to watch these chocolate makers prepare their beautiful artisan chocolates.

“It’s a three-day process to make each batch of chocolate,” said Kollar as I observed and interviewed him while he was IMG_7643making chocolate. “This vibrating machine takes all the air bubbles out,” shared Kollar.

The chocolates are beautiful and shiny with whimsical designs on many of my favorites that I tasted while in the store.  Have you ever IMG_7715tried Fennel Pollen chocolate? It’s an award-winning delicious treat with a light olive green hue.  How about Coffee Kahlua chocolate made with dark chocolate ganache? It’s superb. His red wine chocolate has Napa Valley red wine and dark chocolate ganache.

Chef Kollar always makes speciality chocolates for the holidays. Since I was in his store during Spring, there were chocolate Easter bunnies and large chocolate eggs on display.

Buy a box of chocolate and enjoy them alone or with a fine bottle of Napa Valley wine.

Kollar Chocolates – 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA.  Learn more by clicking on www.kollarchocolates.com.