You don’t have to go to Switzerland to have a sublime chocolate experience. Right here in Israel, gourmet chocolatiers invite you to get your hands around the sweet silky stuff of pralines, truffles and other treats to make and take.
Whether milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate is your favorite, follow ISRAEL21c on the chocolate trail that smells as good as it tastes. We’ve included only those that have an English-speaking option. If your Hebrew is fluent, check out the Strauss-Elite chocolate factory tour in Nazareth Illit.
Tip: In warm weather, bring an insulated cooler to your chocolate workshop so your goodies won’t melt before you arrive home.
The Shulman Chocolate Museum on Kibbutz Dafna in the Upper Galilee is a tantalizing stopover for locals and tourists alike.
Dimitri Shulman is an artist and uses chocolate as his crafting tool. The chocolate sculptures he creates – from a Golda Meir portrait to a guitar to a hanukkiah to a pair of stilettos – are fun and wonderful.
A visit to the museum also includes a movie about cocoa, learning about how chocolate is made, tastings, and workshops. These can be led in English for groups of 15 or more.
The museum is open Monday to Thursday 10-5; Friday and holiday eves 9-3 and Saturday 10-5. It is always best to call ahead: 972-(0)54-590-2198; [email protected]
For the past decade, Sima Amsalem has been showing visitors of all ages how to make kosher truffles and pralines at Sweet N’ Karem in southern Jerusalem’s artsy Ein Karem neighborhood.
Around the corner, her business partner and ex-husband, Ofer Amsalem, has been running the little retail shop where tourists flock for homemade chocolates and ice cream.
In the fall, the Amsalems will open Chocolate House, a three-room bed-and-breakfast in a 12th century Ein Karem villa.
“We are building a new place that will offer a big chocolate experience, along with ice cream, food and music,” Ofer tells ISRAEL21c.
Formerly an artist’s home that the couple has renovated, Chocolate House has a spa and a Jacuzzi on the rooftop, which affords an amazing view. Sima’s workshops will take place here and eventually the shop may move here.
Open workshops for couples and individuals are held every week. Workshops for private groups are given to groups of 10 or more people. Information: 972-(0)77-446-0160
The Sarina Chocolate center in Moshav Ein Vered, about 30 minutes outside of Tel Aviv, is more than just a place to make your own kosher chocolate creations. It is a visitors’ center with the only greenhouse growing cocoa trees in all of Israel.
Limor and Gil Drucker run this chocolate haven — she is an English teacher turned chocolatier and he is an agriculturalist.
There are workshops geared to children only, some for adults and family-oriented chocolate making. Contact: 972-(0)77-525-5370; [email protected].
Galita Chocolate Farm has two locations: the original digs on Kibbutz Degania Bet near the Sea of Galilee (kosher) and the newer location on Kibbutz Tzuba (kosher mehadrin) outside Jerusalem.
Galit Alpert opened the original Kibbutz Degania Bet location after three years of intensive chocolate and ice cream-making internships in Belgium. The chocolate farm is actually a center dedicated to all things chocolate.
There are workshops for adults and children, a chocolate bar that includes unique chocolate desserts, a movie about the history of chocolate, and the story of the factory.
The Degania chocolate farm is open Sunday to Friday; the Tzuba farm is open Monday to Friday. Reservations must be made via the website or by calling 972-(0)4-675-5608 for Degania; 972-(0)2-534-7650 for Tzuba.
Karina Chaplinski, a third-generation Argentinean chocolate confectioner, together with her husband, Gyora Chaplinski, opened the De Karina Chocolate Boutique factory and visitors’ center in 2006 in Ein Zivan, a Golan Heights kibbutz.
Karina knew that upon immigrating to Israel she would continue a family tradition of a hundred years of handmade premium chocolate.
De Karina offers workshops for kids and adults, as well as a tour of the chocolate-making process, tastings and chocolate modelling.
All the products are kosher (mehadrin) dairy or parve. The De Karina visitors’ center is handicapped accessible.
The visitors’ center is open Sunday to Thursday, 9-5; Fridays and holiday eves 9-3. Reservations required: 972-(0)4-699-3622.
Emilya, an award-winning chocolatier in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim, offers two-hour “chocoholic” chocolate-making workshops on Friday mornings.
You’ll learn how to prepare truffles, decorated pralines, gourmet croissants and crunchy chocolate bars, and you won’t go home empty-handed. To arrange a workshop in English for a group, contact [email protected]
She uses raw chocolate and other raw ingredients to teach participants how to make healthful sweets including pralines, chocolate balls, fondue and even instant banana ice cream.
“We will learn, prepare and eat a variety of desserts from uncooked cocoa — not for nothing called ‘the food of the gods’ — natural sweeteners, dry and fresh fruits,” says Lidror, who also leads other cooking workshops based on vegetarian and vegan cuisine. To arrange a workshop in English, contact her at [email protected].