For the love of chocolate
By Christine E. McDermott

February is about more than celebrating Cupid’s birthday: It’s also National Chocolate Month. Here are 10 places within a day’s drive where you can enjoy pure decadence.

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1. The Chocolate Museum, St. Stephen, New Brunswick: Just across the Maine border is Canada’s Chocolate Town, home of Ganong Brothers Limited candy-makers. Set in the original 1873 factory, the museum offers interactive exhibits and computer displays and showcases historic chocolate boxes and antique equipment. Plus, you can watch hand-dippers – for whom it takes several years to learn the craft – at work. (Note: The museum is closed in February, but groups can call to arrange a tour. It reopens for the season March 1.)

2. Chocopologie Cafe, Norwalk, Conn.: Name the magazine, and Fritz Knipschildt and his artisan chocolates have been featured. His cafe and store has a gallery with seven barn-style windows, through which you can see candy-makers preparing ganache fillings, tempering raw chocolate and cleaning individual molds. Watch as each piece is placed in a handmade paper box. Finally, view the pastry team and kitchen staff in action. Don’t leave without trying the specialty drink – half dark chocolate and half espresso topped with lavender foam.

3. Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.: The first recorded mention of chocolate in Williamsburg dates to the early 18th century, when the College of William and Mary’s president served hot cocoa to guests. Today, Colonial Williamsburg presents “Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” in the Governor’s Palace kitchen on the first Tuesday of the month. Using authentic recipes and equipment, the program shows how raw beans were processed into chocolate and used in cooking. Afterward, treat yourself to an American Heritage bar, sold in the attraction’s retail stores.

4. Hauser Chocolatier, Westerly, R.I.: Swiss-born Ruedi Hauser and his wife, Lucille, founded Hauser Chocolatier in 1983 with one guiding principle: use original recipes, specially selected blends of premium chocolates and the freshest ingredients to create award-winning truffles. The master confectioner has passed the company’s reins to his son, Ruedi Hauser Jr., who carries on the tradition. The retail store is open every day but Sunday. A tour room allows visitors to peer into the factory.