Iâ€™m lucky to be living near Busy Bee Chocolates, a minuscule but substantial chocolate shop in my São Paulo neighborhood of Vila Madalena. Wood-paneled and discreet, Busy Bee opens into a candy box of surprises. The truffles are what keep customers addicted, with delicate and intense flavors such as candied orange, cognac and cashew covered in dark, white or milk chocolate.
Luciana Baptista learned her craft decades ago in France and brought back her art to the shop, which initially started as just a workshop. It explains the size of the place, where the closet-sized front functions as the place for the cash register, coffee bar (they only serve espresso and water, with hot chocolate absent from the menu) and chocolate tasting area. Behind the register, separated by a glass door, is a magical areaâ€”the kitchen, where one person makes all the sweets by hand.
Another Busy Bee popular item is the â€œCroc,â€ a crunchy bit of heaven packed with candied cashews surrounded in chocolate. And for those with more traditional but unafraid to experiment, a tablet of chocolate in caramel or dried fruit is divinity without religion.