North Fork Chocolate Company co-founder and Executive Chef Steven Amaral is an artist through and through. Not only does he paint abstract works in acrylic and oil; he carefully crafts countless artworks every day in his preferred—and delicious—medium: chocolate. And his first-ever Winter Wonderland, on display through the end of the year, may be his finest masterpiece yet.
The idea came to Amaral when the spacious foyer leading to the Aquebogue chocolate shop’s art gallery happened to catch his eye one day, filling him with the desire to use the space for an elaborate holiday display akin to the ones he helped create during his days as a corporate chef. He remembers thinking, “It would be so cool, especially for the kids who come in, to be able to have something that was like, ‘Wow!’—something that was inspiring and awesome and all chocolate.” He set forth to make just that. After nearly 40 hours of hand-rolling chocolate and filling molds, he and assistant Ashley Geyer had created the wow factor he was looking for.
The gorgeous display is populated by snowmen, Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees and houses handmade with chocolate and other sweets of every sort. The cheery snowmen, for instance, are made with white chocolate, coconut shavings and Rice Krispies treats.
Just outside the Christmas village is the quiet town of Bethlehem, lovingly recreated in a dark and milk chocolate Nativity scene. And the best thing about these displays is: everything you see is on sale. If you’re worried about picking apart Winter Wonderland or the Nativity scene, don’t be. There are duplicates of just about everything—packaged and ready to be enjoyed. The only exceptions are the delicately hand-rolled and carved Christmas log cabin and Nativity stable, which must be painstakingly reproduced for each individual who wishes to order them.
In addition to the holiday pieces, North Fork Chocolate Company also sells bon bons, chocolate bark and hot chocolate, which Amaral makes from actual Belgian chocolate shavings. “It’s the real stuff,” he asserts. If you need a candy box to carry your goodies in, they make ones out of—you guessed it—chocolate.
There’s more to this chocolate shop than meets the eye; within its walls are 40 local artisans peddling handmade birdhouses, needlepoints, jewelry, ceramics and more. “It’s like their own little micro-store within our store,” Amaral says. “It’s a great place to go Christmas shopping if you want local stuff.”
Of course, some people prefer engaging in fun group activities to simply receiving presents, and North Fork Chocolate Company has that covered as well. They offer private parties and guided tours, which can include Belgian waffles, a chocolate fondue fountain, chocolate demos and a baby grand piano to play by their roaring fireplace. A visit to this chocolate paradise is the perfect way to spend a cold winter day.