Valentine’s Day is almost here. When shopping for that perfect gift for the love of your life, why stick to the same old truffles? Think outside the standard chocolate box with a few of these tasty treats from New England chocolatiers.
Salt and ayre
This is not your everyday truffle. Harbor Sweets in Salem combines exotic ingredients like Thai ginger, chai, caramel, and Himalayan sea salt in their newest collection, Salt and Ayre. Each bite-sized morsel features exceptionally strong flavors wrapped in bittersweet or dark chocolate, creating different combinations like crystallized ginger, almond buttercrunch, and cafe au lait. The boxes come in 2-piece, 4-piece, 9-piece, and 16-piece sets ($5—$24). All of the chocolates are handmade — according to the company’s vice president Billie Phillips — using copper melting kettles and wooden paddles, and the staff hand mold, fill, wrap, and pack all of the products.
Harbor Sweets also offers a wide variety of treats and collections, their oldest recipe being a Sweet Sloop: almond butter crunch covered in white chocolate, dipped in dark chocolate, and finished off with pecan pieces on the side.
85 Leavitt St., Salem
800-243-2115 , email@example.com
Open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Be mine frog
For a Valentine with a dash of whimsy, the Be Mine Chocolate Frog ($13.50) from Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, Vt., makes a playfully delicious treat. Made from milk chocolate and hand-decorated with dark chocolate accents, the frog sits atop a carefully carved white chocolate lily pad. The family-owned Vermont business prides itself on using fairly traded and all-natural ingredients in all of their products, from local Vermont cream to maple syrup.
Their company also produces a variety of 14 organic bars, including creamy coconut, salted caramel, and dark chocolate peanut butter.
Lake Champlain Chocolates
750 Pine St., Burlington, Vt.
Open Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Inspired by a traditional Mexican treat, Taza Chocolate’s Mexicano discs are hand-carved chocolate millstones bursting with flavors perfect for the adventurous eater. From cinnamon to chipotle chili to spiked eggnog, the discs have a gritty texture that explodes with the sweet, savory, and spicy ingredients. The Somerville chocolatier specializes in stone ground, organic chocolate, made from hand-ground, direct trade cacao beans and cane sugar that make their products taste natural, not processed. The discs come in 2.7 ounce sets ($5) or by the case ($55). They are also available in a range of sample sets, which provide a taste of each distinct recipe ($11.50-$28).
Aside from the discs, Taza offers a variety of Mexican-inspired chocolates and candies. Tazitos crunch ($22) is another favorite, made with crispy brown rice and 65 percent dark chocolate in almond, coconut, crispy, hazelnut, and peanut.
561 Windsor St., Somerville
617-623-0804 (x 10), firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Next
This more traditional treat might look like a truffle. But in the center is a sweet cherry surprise. Come Valentine’s Day season, Bridgewater Chocolate in Brookfield, Conn., makes their cherry hearts: Amarena cherries marinated and covered in rich dark chocolate, molded into heart-shaped morsels, and placed on a base of decadent milk chocolate. They come in 6-piece ($17.50) and 12-piece (30.95) sets and are sold in a beautiful wooden box with wired ribbon — an easy gift with no wrapping required.
559 Federal Road, Brookfield, Conn.
Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Sunday. Next
Down by the sea
For the ocean-lovers, this quirky collection from the Chatham Candy Manor includes a variety of chocolate flavors, all handmade, in the shape of favorite sea creatures: lobsters, scallop shells, fish, and crabs. The Candy Manor Clambake box ($13) has candy-coated chocolate “magic rocks” and a solid white chocolate ear of corn. The Shell Assortment ($12) is also solid chocolate, including 30 intricately designed seashells.
Currently owned by Naomi Turner and David Veach, the business started in 1955 by Turner’s mother, Naomi L. Turner, who set up card tables with her daughter where they made and sold homemade fudge and chocolates. They continue to sell their fudge, incorporating fun flavors like rocky road, penuche walnut, and fantasy chocolate turtle.
Chatham Candy Manor
484 Main St., Chatham
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sending s’more love
This is Beacon Hill Chocolate’s take on the traditional s’more. Giant gooey marshmallows are covered in Belgian white chocolate, decorated with red nonpareils, and carefully placed between two graham cracker cookies dipped in Belgian chocolate. Buy them individually ($4.50) or by the box ($19.50, includes four).
Known for artistically crafted treats, owner Paula Barth and her team sources artisan ingredients from around the world to make their one-of-a-kind creations. Their legendary chocolate truffles include passion fruit, fleur de sel, raspberry blush, and red velvet rapture, to name a few.
Beacon Hill Chocolates
91 Charles St., Boston
617-725-1900 , email@example.com
Open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday noon to 5:30 p.m. Next
Chocolate dipped maple candy
A new take on a timeless New England Favorite, Laughing Moon Chocolate in Vermont hand dips mouth-watering maple candy in the customer’s choice of milk or dark chocolate. Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville, Vt., provides the 100 percent pure candies straight from their sugar maple trees, all made by hand and shaped to look like maple leaves. The chocolate adds a touch of extra sweetness to the earthy undertones of the candy. The gift boxes are sold in half pounds ($14.50).
They use local and locally sourced products and their store features an open kitchen where their products are made on display for customers to watch. Along with the basic truffles, another popular item on the menu is their salted caramels ($17—$34) with sea salt sprinkled on top. The handmade caramel is buttery, not sticky or chewy, with a hint of salt in every bite.
Laughing Moon Chocolate
78 South Main St., Stowe Village, Vt.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As supporters of the MSPCA, Laughing Moon Chocolate will be providing some of their treats at the organization’s annual Valentine’s Day Sale.
These colorful flowers are entirely made out of chocolate. Wilbur’s of Maine handcrafts roses and tulips with petals made from milk chocolate in a variety of colors. The tulips are foil wrapped and roses are bagged and tied with a ribbon. They can be bought individually ($3.75).
Located in Freeport, the small shop caters to a year-round mix of tourists and locals, offering a variety of Maine goodies from maple syrup to scotch kisses: homemade caramel made with heavy cream then melted with marshmallow.
Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections
74 Lower Main St., Freeport, Maine
Open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Who can resist these little faces? What started as a means to use up leftover chocolate ganache and yarn — and to amuse local children — has grown in to one of L.A. Burdick’s most famous inventions. Made from a variety of whipped ganache and chocolate, the creatures are hand-piped and hand-decorated with little chocolate-covered almonds for ears and a colorful string for a tail. The dark chocolate has an orange filling, the milk has a mocha filling, and the white has a cinnamon and port filling. They come in 16-piece ($48) and 9-piece ($32) wooden boxes, samplers ($3.50-$13) and are also included in a number of the bonbon assortments.
The mice have become so popular that the shop now offers seasonal animals including penguins, bees, bunnies, ghosts, and turkeys. For the winter months, the penguins combine dark and white chocolate filled with a dark whipped lemon ganache with limoncello. They are available in 9-piece wooden boxes ($32) and samplers ($3.50—$13).
L.A. Burdick Chocolate
220 Clarendon St., Boston
Open Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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