Ever wondered what the “other half” spends on everyday indulgences like chocolate? If money weren’t an issue, would you shell out thousands of dollars for a bite of chocolate? History is full of gastronomic excesses, but the 21st century may be the wildest food era yet. From life-sized chocolate sports car replicas to edible gold, the world is your (chocolate) oyster—if you can afford it. Here’s a look at some of the most extravagant chocolate indulgences around the globe.
Famed New York dessert emporium Serendipity 3 collaborated with jeweler Euphoria NY on the exclusive dessert known as the “Frozen Haute Chocolate.” Winner of a Guinness World Record, this pricey indulgence consists of 28 different cocoas and edible 23-karat gold, served in a goblet lined with more edible gold and wrapped in a diamond-and-gold bracelet. As if that weren’t rich enough, the dessert also comes with a side of Knipschildt Chocolatier’s La Madeline au Truffle, a $250 chocolate truffle filled with a prized French fungus truffle. At a hefty $25,000, this sundae is easily one of the world’s most expensive chocolate desserts.
The Tuscan company Amadei makes chocolate from white cocoa beans nicknamed “porcelana” because of their resemblance to fine china. The beans, which are from the Venezuelan criollo strain, are extremely rare since very few are grown anymore. Each bar comes individually numbered and the chocolate costs around $90 a pound. We may have to become used to prices like this, because the demand for chocolate worldwide is outpacing the supply. It has been predicted that chocolate could become as expensive as caviar or gold.
Single-origin chocolates are all about exclusivity. Each chocolate comes from a different country or region, and as with wine grapes, the taste of the cocoa beans is affected by the climate and soil where they are grown. A tasting box of chocolates from various countries is the best way to experience the differing flavors. Looking for a few high-quality recommendations? Chocolat Celeste makes single-origin “art” chocolates, Askinosie sells a box of bars made from beans from places as varied as Tanzania and the Philippines, and the Parisian company Pralus carries 18 single-origin bars from countries around the world.
The British chocolatier Damien Allsop came up with a very unique twist on the gourmet ganache truffle. Instead of using cream as the binder, he uses water, which results in a bolder flavor profile. His Pure Collection uses water ganache to highlight the differences between six Valrhona single-origin chocolates, and the technique is also used to infuse ingredients like olive oil and Tibetan lapsang tea into chocolates. Allsop also engineered the water ganache to exhibit a Willy Wonka-esque flavor change in which the chocolate starts out tasting like passion fruit but ends up tasting of coffee!
The aforementioned Askinosie offers the ultimate experience for the chocolate lover who has everything (or what they dub “gift-giving for really rich people.” For $20,000, you can spend five days at the factory making your own completely personalized chocolate: choose your cocoa beans, cocoa content and packaging, and leave with more than 1,000 bars to share with loved ones.
Finally, for the imaginative chocolate lover, there are companies that will craft anything you can dream of out of chocolate, from a corporate logo to a chocolate Ferrari to a full-size replica of a kitchen.
Kate Steffens is a pastry chef, writer, DJ, artist, designer and all-around Renaissance woman. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the rock-and-roll chocolate company, Straight Outta Chocolate. When she's not elbow deep in chocolate, you can find her reading, gardening, working on art projects and listening to old records.