Food lovers who once fetishized obscure French Camemberts have found another obsession: chocolate, the new cheese. But what explains the cheese in the chocolates?And the curry?And the chiles?Around the country, chocolatiers are getting creative by stuffing their bonbons with unexpected savory fillings. At Vosges Haut-Chocolat (132 Spring St., New York; 212/625-2929), Katrina Markoff makes truffles out of everything from kalamata olives to Taleggio cheese. If you're looking for heat, try peppery pralines from Garrison Confections (17 Washington St., Providence; 401/277-2462), flavored with Chinese five-spice powder. Cocoa buffs—who scoff at morsels containing less than 60 percent pure cacao—are ordering pieces from the Art of Chocolate (; 888/880-1472) by the dozen. Patrick Coston, the former pastry chef at the Bryant Park Hotel's Ilo, hand-paints his artisanal candies, which are flavored with lavender or brown butter. Chocolate is even turning up before dessert. At Wheatleigh (Hawthorne Rd., Lenox, Mass.; 413/637-0610), in the Berkshires, chef J. Bryce Whittlesey has devised a six-course chocolate tasting menu that includes surprisingly delicious pairings of Gianduja and pheasant or squab with Valrhona Pur Caraïbe. How sweet it is.
—Niloufar Motamed

Wheatleigh Restaurant