For the Love of Chocolates
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we want to help you keep the embers burning with your sweetheart. Chocolate is just one way to keep things hot, though flowers and jewelry work well too! With so many new Seattle area artisan chocolates available, I ran an informal poll with my (bffs) best foodie friends. For every vote that perennial favorites like Fran’s Chocolates (their salted chocolate caramels are to die for!) and Theo Chocolate’s (yummy bread and chocolate bar) received, there was a vote for yet another artisan chocolatier in the Puget Sound. Here’s a rundown of Seattle’s top chocolatiers and some undiscovered gems:
Amore Chocolates, on Main in Belleveue, has been crafting confections for nearly ten years. Popular flavors include their Seriously Dark and Mudslide truffles. Many of the chocolatier’s confections are also gluten free which makes it possible for everyone to enjoy a sweet treat this Valentine’s Day.
When you are thinking about West Seattle’s Bakery Nouveau it’s about their wonderful pastries, desserts and coffee but their handcrafted chocolates warrant another look. Owner and pastry chef William Leaman has been named one of the Top Ten Next Generation Chocolatiers so you know he means business. The bakery offers more than 30 different chocolates from hand-dipped fruits, caramels and more.
Inspired by European confections, Cadeaux’s chocolatier, Janet Shimada, crafts each chocolate by hand. Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Notter School of Pastry Arts, Callebaut Academy and L'Ecole du Grand Chocolat, Shimada lends an elegant touch to her confections. Cadeaux Chocolate will be the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day (cadeaux means “gifts” in French).
Opened in 2008, the Port Orchard based chocolate shop specializes in all things sweet from truffles to candies and more. Their wide array of chocolates (we counted more than 30), including traditional caramel, ginger and raspberry flavors is truly a site but it’s their use of Pike Brewing Company beers that truly impresses us.
Handcrafted with organic products and with social consciousness in mind, Fiori Chocolate has created Italian inspired confections. The Balsamico e Fragola (with organic strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar) is a standout confection.
Specializing in chocolates, caramels and barks and more, the Mount Vernon based chocolatier also offers wedding and party favors, sculptures and even pantry essentials to make your own chocolates at home. Are you hesitant to take on chocolate making by yourself? Forte offers private chocolate making classes in your home (where you learn how to work with, taste and temper artisan chocolates). This would make the perfect date night in with your loved one (add another couple for a fun double date).
George Paul Chocolates handcraft their artisan chocolate bars and other confections in their Ballard kitchen. The attention to detail and quality ingredients is highlighted in their Inclusion bars, where chunks of pineapple, mango and peppermint bits are front and center. The bittersweet chocolate bar with habanero and pineapple especially intrigued me; it’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
This small batch caramel company uses organic and locally sourced ingredients to make some of the most delectable sweets in the city. Hand-wrapped in parchment paper, these caramels are only available in Washington, Oregon and soon British Columbia. These would be the perfect gift for friends and loved ones outside the Northwest. It’s good to share the wealth of these treats.
A trip to Orcas Island is worth it just to visit this chocolate shop. Working with local organic products from the island, the chocolates from Kathryn Taylor are wonderfully and lovingly crafted. The setting and surrounding community make this chocolate shop the perfect example of Island living.
With three storefronts in the Seattle area (Mercer Island, Madison Park and Bellevue), Oh! Chocolate creates wonderful seasonal truffles and caramels. This is family run business with three generations and counting. Their current “romance” seasonal treats include Pink Champagne and Kir Royale.
Get a sweet taste at these upcoming events:
Pike Brewing Company Chocolate Fest
Gear up for Valentine’s Day at the annual Pike Brewing Company Chocolate Fest. Benefiting FareStart, the event let’s you pair imported and local chocolates with wine, mead, spirits and of course beer. Select local restaurants and specialty food products will also be on hand at the event. Invited breweries will be serving their own version of beer made with chocolate, including Pike Brewing Companies XXXX Cocoa Cherry Porter.
Experience everything culinary and wine at the fourth annual Seattle Food and Wine Experience. More than just food and wine, the event will also feature a beer and cider exhibit, distillery row and an artisan food shop, where guests can sample and purchase products from small batch purveyors including George Paul Chocolates, JonBoy Caramels, Forte Chocolates and more.