A Chocolate Shop in Forest Hills, 80+ Years and Counting
This family-run Austrian chocolate shop has been in Forest Hills since 1930. Step inside and up to the display case of truffles, fruit candies, and other confections, and you realize that not much has changed since then. Aigner Chocolates is a bulwark of stability and unwavering technique.
Most of the chocolates (about $28 a pound) come in milk and dark variations, both snappy, well-tempered, and refreshingly not too sweet. This is milk chocolate that a chocolate lover can eat without a wince—buttery and mellow—not sugary. The dark carries a slight bitterness but is by and large user friendly.
Malted milk and nut clusters and tangerine truffles call out from the case, but the shop's must-order may be its Honeycomb Sponge, a candy born in the UK that gets little attention in the States. To make it, a thick brown sugar syrup is cooked down until viscous, then sprinkled with baking soda. The baking soda reacts with acids in the syrup, forming little bubbles that become trapped by the thick toffee, which then sets. At Aigner, the bubbles form a tight, neat honeycomb pattern as opposed to the uneven, unstructured view of a Crunchie bar in cross-section.
Despite being pure sugar, the airy, honey-tinged toffee isn't too sweet, so it pairs nicely with the sweeter milk chocolate coating. That said, I wouldn't turn away one covered in the dark stuff. At Aigner it's a great thing both ways.