Whether your feelings about chocolate factories were forged by Lucy and Ethel working a conveyor belt or Willie Wonka as brought to life by either Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, the less than a year old Chocolate Works on 641 Amsterdam Avenue will meet your every expectation…and then exceed it.
Merely stepping inside this Upper West Side store and party space is a candy lover’s dream, as everywhere you look seasonal chocolate Santas and menorahs, as well as year-round footballs, ballet slippers, animals, Statues of Liberty, computers and so, so much more jostle for shelf space with a rainbow of jelly bean dispensers, bins of gummy fruit (and, of course, bears and worms), Oompa-Loompa-sized lollipops and edible jewelry galore.
Gumming Up the Works
Their weekday, hour-long workshop promises to make your child a chocolatier, and while your kiddo may not leave ready to apply for a Vice Presidency at Godiva, they will leave exhilarated, grinning…and kind of sticky. (Though Chocolate Works aprons are available, try not to wear anything that won’t be improved by streaks of brown. And blue. And pink. And green.)
The workshop begins with each child selecting a mold into which they’ll pour their chocolate. Options include hearts, peace signs, artist palettes, baseball bats, dinosaurs and even cell-phones. But, be forewarned: Not all molds are created equal. One disgruntled third grader, after comparing his choice with his sister’s, was overheard grumbling, “I should have picked something with more mass.” So if you think your little one will be disappointed if his or her final result is smaller than someone else’s, steer them towards the larger options. (Or, at least, the ones that seem larger.)
Breaking the Mold
Of course, no mold is big enough to absorb all 450 pounds of melted milk chocolate that’s available in the huge vat by the window. Kids line up and hold out their molds, which are filled by a Chocolate Works professional (after the budding chocolatiers have dipped in a finger and grabbed a taste, naturally), then stored in a freezer.
More, More, More, Said the Baby
While you wait for your creation to harden, it’s time to head over to the 40 foot conveyor belt! Pick a graham cracker, a pretzel or an Oreo, and slip it into the machine. Once your treat has been thoroughly doused in chocolate, it’s time to pick a topping – rainbow sprinkles? M&Ms? Yet more chocolate sprinkles? – and drizzle it over the coating. (Even parents are invited to join the fun!)
Fountain of Youth
As your creation makes its way down the conveyer belt for cooling before pick-up, it’s time to hit the chocolate fountain! Grab a wooden skewer, plop a (Kosher) marshmallow on top, and stick under the stream of cascading chocolate. Watch in wonder as the liquid deliciousness drips down your fingers and wrist. Eat. Lick hand while no one is looking. Then run to the end of the conveyor and hold out your plate as your graham cracker or pretzel or marshmallow tumbles into it. Gobble quickly, because it’s time to decorate your mold!
Color Me Chocolate
What, you may wonder, could be better than chocolate in the shape you selected yourself? Why, more chocolate! Pink chocolate! Yellow chocolate! Blue chocolate! Green chocolate! Melted fresh out of the microwave and poured into paint dispensers, it’s perfect for adding finishing touches like writing your name (or “1D” – that’s the super-hot boy band, One Direction, for those not up on their super-hot boy bands of the month). Some kids choose to go into great detail, while others merely see how much they can squeeze out before the nozzle gets jammed. Doesn’t matter. It all still tastes good in the end.
The final step is to wrap your masterpiece up in plastic and take it home with you.
In addition to workshops, Chocolate Works also hosts birthday parties which include all of the above plus paper goods, pizza and drinks for a basic price of $650 for the first ten children. Add-ons include sundae-making, goodie bags, souvenir aprons, chocolate fruit (between the vitamins and the antioxidants, it’s practically a health food!) and bagels and coffee for adults (otherwise, the party is drop-off).
The price for the basic workshop varies by season, but currently stands at $36 per child. Reservations are required and cost is subject to change.
School groups are welcome, as are book clubs. And bachelorette parties.
641 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, Ny
Does this sound like a chocolate lover’s heaven or what? Let us know what you think about Chocolate Works in a comment below.
— Alina Adams