Engage your Senses with the Wonder of Chocolate
“Engage your Senses with the Wonder of Chocolate”
...Claude’s Chocolate Debuts with the Sweet Smell of Success
There is a mounting excitement about the newest Chef in St. Augustine. He’s not launching a restaurant, catering company, bakery or take-out sandwich shop. He is following a dream of opening Claude’s Chocolate in his favorite city, a dream that has taken years to come true. Now in its 4th month, Claude and Nicole Franques are filling a niche in St. Augustine that is innovative while pioneering a true European-style of luxurious romantic chocolate.
The allure of America enticed Claude Franques to leave Toulouse, France for New York City in the 1970’s and become one of America’s fine French chefs. He and his wife Nicole spent nearly 20 years continuing the legacy of Rene Pujol Restaurant in Manhattan, until St. Augustine’s charm and European style beckoned them to stay; here they have created their new culinary adventure...Claude’s Chocolate.
Similar to the impeccable, refined approach to dining in New York’s theater district with classic French cuisine in a serene setting, Claude and Nicole’s wonderful chocolate shop is a masterpiece of fine European chocolates sprinkled with the quaint historic ambience of St. Augustine. Keeping with years of tradition, Claude crafts his chocolates by hand in small quantities, using only the purest ingredients. No detail is overlooked by either of the Franques...the chocolates are a delight to the eye and their petite shop is filled with the fresh, deep aroma of rich Belgian chocolate!
Claude’s passionate appreciation for achieving the proper balance of flavors between the aromatic and flavorful ganache (interiors) and the dark or milk chocolate coatings, results in a flawless little mouthful of heaven. From pecans to hazelnuts, Claude painstakingly roasts all of the nuts in his repertoire. The exotic flavors are numerous... from passion fruit and espresso to fresh coconut and lime. There are 24 varieties, one more uniquely designed than the next. Together they tease anyone to just try one!
When you walk up the 3 steps to Claude’s Chocolate from brick-paved Hypolita Street, only a block from St. Augustine’s bayfront, it’s easy to forget you’re in Florida. The ancient brick fireplace (circa 1912-1915) resembles, not surprisingly, the fireplace in Rene Pujol. The shelves are laden with an abundance of visually stunning confections that have already brought their patrons back daily for a chocolate indulgence. Claude also makes a full-bodied luxurious Belgian chocolate cocoa and the most decadent double chocolate mudslide cookie.
Slowly bite into any of Claude’s Chocolate and you could forget that he is a classically certified Chef and pastry chef who has worked in many of the finest hotels and restaurants in France and New York. But there is nothing ‘snobby’ or pretentious here. His techniques and resulting chocolates are pure. The glamorous confections are sophisticated, stylish and absolutely the finest; and when Nicole strolls you through the various signature assortments, she brings an added pleasure to Claude’s world-class gourmet chocolates.
Each Friday evening, from 5:00-8:00, the petite chocolate shoppe hosts chocolate & wine tastings, with a sampling of the season’s most beautiful creations, paired with wine, port and bubbly!
Hint: Because of the intensity of the flavors and aromas, most people can easily be satisfied with one or two pieces, making Claude’s fine chocolates one of life’s affordable luxuries!