If you have a sweet tooth that only fine chocolate can cure, look no further than one of the many delectable chocolate shops in the Triangle. For intoxicating aromas and pure unadulterated goodness, treat yourself—or a significant other—to one of these sweet spots.
This downtown Cary shop is known for its handmade premium chocolates and a variety of treats such as truffles, snappers (turtles), almond toffee, nut clusters, sea salt caramels, mint melt-a-ways and more. Chocolate Smiles also specializes in dipped items such as Oreos, graham crackers, marshmallows and strawberries, which are a favorite for Valentine’s Day.
“I would say our handmade truffles are our signature item,” said owner Melanie Williams. “During the holidays and whenever inspiration hits, we add to our standard 14 flavors. This Valentine’s Day, we created some special flavors such as Apricot Rose, Fiori de Sicillia, Cherry Blush, Black Forest, Salted Caramel and Pistachio.
“We make people happy from the time they walk into the shop and breathe in the wonderful chocolate aroma, to taking the first bite, to watching someone’s smile when they open up a gift of our chocolates,” said Williams. 312 W. Chatham St., Cary. 919-469-5282.
As the first bean-to-bar chocolate shop in the South, Escazu Chocolates offers a selection of 25-35 continually evolving flavors of confections and truffles, plus house-made ice cream, 10 types of drinking chocolates and coffee drinks, all made using local dairy.
“We are two ex-chefs who approach the craft of chocolate making from a culinary perspective as opposed to manufacturing a product,” said Hallot Parson, Escazu’s chocolate maker.
Parson says the shop is known for its goat’s milk chocolate bar and the historic drinking chocolates, which are based on recipes created in 1631. Parson’s favorite truffles include Brown Butter Vanilla, Yuzu, Lemon & Cayenne and Dulce de Leche. 936 N. Blount St., Raleigh. 919-832-3433.
Miel Bon Bons
Miel Bon Bons’ hand-crafted chocolates feature an eclectic mix of international flavors, giving customers the opportunity to try new flavors. Enjoy French macaroons, toffee, custom cakes, tarts, tea-infused caramel and chocolates, and a variety of gourmet chocolates such as the Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch bar, one of the shop’s signature items. For Valentine’s Day, the store also created a port-infused dark chocolate ganache.
“Everyone calls it a ‘party in your mouth’,” said Bonnie Lau, who opened the store in 2008.
Lau says the store’s chocolates are made with fresh and fine ingredients to create intense flavors and unique artistic designs. 2514 University Drive, Suite 101, Durham. 919-360-3332.
Videri Chocolate Factory
Chocolate is made daily at Videri, a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in downtown Raleigh that also sells chocolate bars, bon bons, hot chocolate and has a full coffee counter.
“Our sea salt bar is our best-seller, but I would say our Single Origin 90% Ecuador dark chocolate bar is our signature [item],” said Starr Sink, co-founder, noting that the bar is a Good Food Award winner.
Videri also offers a tour if you are curious about the chocolate-making process, and its location in the warehouse district makes the factory a must-visit for chocolate lovers. 327 W. Davie St., Sweet 100, Raleigh. 919-755-5053.
Chef Matthew Shepherd emphasizes the flavor, texture and aroma of his handcrafted artisan chocolates. Using essential oils and extracts, Matthew’s Chocolates offers a variety of clusters, truffles and chocolate candies. The store, located in downtown Hillsborough, also serves Hot Choca in a variety of flavors such as Spicy Aztec or Mexican with cinnamon, and also gelato, cakes, coffees and more. Shepherd attended culinary school at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, and his background as a potter and water colorist shines through in his artistic culinary creations. 107 N. Churton St., Hillsborough. 919-732-0900.
Myra Wright is a North Carolina-based travel writer.