If You Love Chocolate, Then You Need To Try Disset Chocolate

The owner, Ursula XVII, truly perfects the art of making chocolate.
Ursula Xvii Disset Chocolate

Disset Chocolate founder Ursula XVII pipes ganache into chocolate bars. Photograph by Doug Young

Ursula Sala-Illa, who goes by the name Ursula XVII, started out as a pastry chef with an impressive résumé, including stints working at Ai Fiori in New York and with Albert Adrià in Spain. But it was chocolate that sealed her fate.

“Early on as a pastry chef, I knew that I liked fine dining, but I always wanted to be the ‘chocolate’ person,” recalls XVII, a native New Yorker whose name stems from her Catalonian heritage. (“Disset” means 17 in Catalan and is her middle name.) A chocolate devotee, she found herself fascinated by the science behind it, intrigued by “the method, the routine. You can’t miss a step, or it won’t work out.”

XVII was working at North Fork Table and Inn when fellow pastry chef Claudia Fleming suggested that she pursue her passion full time, and in January, XVII opened the doors to Disset Chocolate in downtown Cutchogue. In her customized factory nearby, XVII turns out finely crafted bonbons, assorted bars, and cookies, some of them on a Selmi enrober that she likens to “the I Love Lucy conveyor belt.” Once bonbons are covered with molten chocolate, they are quickly decorated, often with the aid of a toothbrush dipped in colored cocoa butter for an artistic “splatter” effect. XVII also applies tempered cocoa-butter “paints” via polycarbonate molds whose cavities are shelled with thin chocolate, then filled.

“At Disset,” she explains, “we don’t paint the bonbon until we are satisfied with the filling, and then I let myself be inspired by how I feel when I’m eating it.” XVII’s pastry background is evident in her milk chocolate bars, some piped with banana ganache, and others featuring a strawberries-and-cream motif, achieved with the help of chef’s tweezers. “In one bite in a little shell of chocolate, I can give you a cheesecake,” she muses. “I think of my chocolates as little vessels of flavor.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Sweet Success.
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