California & the West

12 Las Vegas sweet spots for National Chocolate Month. Chocolate burger anyone?

There’s nothing quite like chocolate to tempt the taste buds, and February is the perfect month to celebrate.

Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, but all 29 days are lauded as National Chocolate Month, also called National Chocolate Lovers Month. Las Vegas is overflowing with palate-pleasing possibilities; check out the photo gallery to see sweet spots.

Whether it’s a too-big-to-finish sundae or a pricey but satisfying piece of fine French chocolate — handmade just off the Strip — Sin City can surely satisfy any craving.

For example, at Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar at The Linq, the celebrity chef serves up a Jack Daniels chocolate cake ($15). The decadent dessert features seven layers of whiskey-infused cake with Crème Anglaise and chocolate truffles.

Anyone up for a chocolate burger? It’s chef Hubert Keller’s unique offering at his Burger Bar at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.

The dessert version of an American classic has a “burger” made of Nutella mousse sandwiched between two warm doughnut “buns.” Instead of lettuce, tomato and pickle, the toppings are kiwi, passion fruit and strawberries. It’s priced at $6.25.

While the cake and “burger” are available year-round, some other delights are on menus only for Valentine’s Day. Like the Melt Your Heart dessert ($24) at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. The concoction includes chocolate ganache, hazelnuts, ivory chocolate and poached pear. Lovers can indulge Feb. 12 to 14 at the hotel's Mozen Bistro and Mandarin Bar.

Various resorts have shops selling their signature brands of chocolates.

At one, Jean-Philippe Patisserie at Bellagio, potential customers are lured by what the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as the world’s largest chocolate fountain.

Melted chocolate flows through this eye-catching, floor-to-ceiling tower, created by pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury.

What may be Las Vegas’ most expensive chocolates are created by former Bellagio pastry chef Jean-Marie Auboine. He founded his own company, Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier, after realizing the need for fine French chocolates extended well beyond the Strip.

Auboine and his team now produce dozens of chocolates in a truly mouth-watering array of flavors.

They include his award-winning Quessan, a caramel ganache enrobed in dark chocolate; Jaipur, with a ganache made from raspberries infused with jasmine tea covered in milk chocolate; and Tapas, a dark chocolate creation with a filling of almond praline, crunchy bacon and pretzels.

All the sweets are handmade, without preservatives, in a “cocoa bean to chocolate bar” kitchen a couple of miles west of the Strip at 4780 W. Harmon Ave., Las Vegas. Samples are offered in a small retail shop.

A 19-piece box sells for $40.

“Everything is so fresh, you can taste the difference,” sales director Chanelle Bautista said. “There’s value in that.”

Auboine’s chocolates can also be purchased at Le Macaron in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian.

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