What does an ethereal peanut butter cookie packing dark rocks of fine chocolate have in common with hot chocolate richer than Paul Allen, with hand-shaken whipped cream and salty-hot swirls of homemade caramel-habanero sauce? Or, for that matter, luxurious cardamom ice cream holding the artful crunch of chocolate-coated sesame candy? They’re all the handiwork of Portland's 6-year-old Alma Chocolate—and you’ve never heard of them.
 
But you will.
 
Come February, the ingenious little bon bon shop (140 NE 28th Ave) will be reborn as a sweet destination. Here, Alma’s best-kept secrets will rise alongside the chocolates and edible gilded icons that make owner Sarah Hart one of the country’s premiere young chocolatiers. Currently, Alma’s under-the-radar baked gems, heavenly hot chocolates, and small-batch ice creams as good as any you’ve tasted are relegated to tiny blackboard notes and hidden corner nooks. According to Hart, the remodeled and expanded space will showcase all aspects of Alma with an up-front pastry case, an ice cream counter, an espresso bar, expanded counter seats, a shine for the famed “chocolate icons,” and, of course, a dedicated bon bon counter.
 
As part of a creative and wholesale account ramp-up, Alma has also secured a 1,500-square-foot production and event space in the American Brush Building at 116 NE Sixth Ave. After the first of the year, watch for classes, Valentine’s Day chocolate-making sessions, and collaborative chocolate dinners with adventurous Portland chefs.
 
Alma will close for renovation in January. Hart and her daughter Hannah Sullivan, fresh from the editing trenches of Bon Appetit, will stage pop-ups throughout the month at Ristretto Roasters’ various locations. Watch Eat Beat for details.
 
Meanwhile, the holiday hotline is open for business. In addition to the usual stockpile of barks, toffees, caramel sauces, gilded squirrels, and terrific cookies from baking talent Ruth Fox comes Alma’s seasonal specials: Fraga Farms Chevre Ganache with Black Pepper (think chocolate goat cheesecake), blue cheese-stuffed figs dipped in chocolate, and not least, pumpkin custard ice cream with candied pecans. Get 'em while they last.
 
Alma Chocolate
140 NE 28th Ave
503-517-0262