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I ate dessert for dinner this week. And it was divine.

Bar Cocoa in the Ritz-Carlton hosted a group of Charlotte bloggers, and I had the good fortune to attend. It was a lovely experience, and it started with macarons. Bridges and bridges of macarons.

Blueberry-lavender is newest member to the Bar Cocoa macaron family, and I can vouch for its deliciousness. I tried nearly a half-dozen flavors – coconut, dulce de leche, honey, pistachio, and the aforementioned blueberry-lavender – and am hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

Most people choose the best seller Red Velvet. For me, it was a close call between the coconut and blueberry-lavender, but in my world, coconut always wins.

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After the macarons there was honey-pecan and peach-mango gelato. I would not kick either flavor out of my freezer, but the peach-mango was unbelievable. It made me happy to have taste buds.

Gelato was followed by eclairs: classic, s’mores, strawberry-pistachio, raspberry-rose, and caramel.

Picking a favorite eclair is, I imagine, like picking your favorite child. It simply can not be done. Sure, there are things you appreciate about one more so than another, but at the end of the day, you love them all.

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Next up was the signature Ritz-Carlton Cake. You can only visit Bar Cocoa at the Ritz in Charlotte, but you can order the signature cake at any Ritz.

You guys, I am not a big fan of chocolate cake. The crumb is always too heavy or the flavor is too intense for my tastes. But this cake. This cake is the one.

It was my favorite thing on the menu. I want to say it was light and layered with flavor and an all-around delight. The Ritz says, “This deeply flavorful specialty cake…features a rich, dark chocolate flavor with bursts of orange throughout, creating a delicious balance of sweet chocolate and sharp citrus.”

Yeah. It was that.

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Then to wash it all down, the milkshakes came out. Cookies and cream, banana-caramel, and double chocolate made with chocolate-hazelnut gelato. Cookies and cream anything is hard to beat, but the chocolate-hazelnut combination came pretty darn close.

This assortment of amazing desserts was shared with us by a group of incredibly friendly and professional Ritz-Carlton employees. Pastry sous chef Jeanette Payne graciously educated us about our desserts as we scarfed them down like a pack of wolves. Well, as I did at least. (Seriously, here we are nearing the aftermath).

So that’s the desserts, but that’s not all. Bar Cocoa features special events, like a free gelato bar where a gelato scoop like those seen above are served atop a petite waffle cone. I think this happens on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons in the summer, but I could be wrong on that. These details were provided when I was eating like I’d never seen a dessert before in my life, so I might have missed some things.

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Another event is the Chocolate & Champagne Dinner. If anyone out there would like to get my attention, inviting me to this five-course all-dessert dinner ought to do it.

In all seriousness though, the Cocoa Lab Cooking Classes are a must-attend for anyone in Charlotte who is remotely interested in learning how to make desserts. The classes are held from 9 a.m. – noon on Saturdays and limited to eight people per class. The $75 per person price includes hands-on education from a pastry chef, complimentary parking, a recipe collection, keepsake apron, and of course the desserts made during the class.

I really can not say enough good things about this experience. In addition to the desserts featured here, cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, cupcakes, and other sweets including  Norman Love chocolates are available at Bar Cocoa. Find them at 201 East Trade Street at the corner of Trade & College in Charlotte. And please invite me with you.

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Bar Cocoa generously provided my desserts and drinks. My only obligation was to show up and enjoy myself. I wrote about my experience here because it was worth sharing. Any errors or omissions are unintentional and my own. All photos you see here were taken with my iPhone. Click here to see me in action.

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