This sign, spotted in front of Matthew’s Chocolates in Hillsborough, aptly sums up my feelings for chocolate. I suspect that many of you reading this post share a similar sentiment for the traditional Valentine’s Day sweet. Whether heart shaped, formed into a bar, wrapped in foil, or nestled in a paper cup and boxed, chocolates are a perennially favored gift each February 14th (though personally, I’m open to giving and receiving delectable chocolate gifts any day of the year).
We are most fortunate to have access to several local chocolatiers in the Triangle and I’ve saved some of the brick & mortar shops, and a few chocolate crafters that deliver their treats locally, on this map should you be compelled to seek out your nearest local chocolate shop this Valentine season… or any season.
Miel Bon Bons – Carrboro
Don’t be distracted by the amazing cakes on display at this locally owned bakery cafe in Carr Mill Mall. Focus instead on the chocolate truffles that will delight your sweetie, or ask about other Valentine’s Day specialities available. Miel Bon Bons is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm.
The Chocolate Door – Chapel Hill
Chocolate pleasures abound behind the chocolate-colored door at this West Franklin Street business. Ask how you can customize a special Valentine gift box and read more about The Chocolate Door on the blog Discovering the Southern Part of Heaven. Business hours are 11 am to 8 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
Cocoa Cinnamon – Durham
You’ve probably read about bikeCOFFEE, or patronized the mobile coffee business at the Durham Farmers’ Market, Motorco or various other locations around Durham (that not-so-little bike does travel well!). Cocoa Cinnamon is bikeCOFFEE’s “alter ego”, kind of. Presently, the brick & mortar location for this Durham business is in planning stages (look for a Kickstarter proposal in the near future), but Cocoa Cinnamon is taking Valentine’s pre-orders only until Monday, February 6th!
Matthew’s Chocolates – Hillsborough
I observed, during my brief stop in at Matthew’s Chocolates on Churton Street in downtown Hillsborough, that kids do indeed flock to a candy store. As the tallest patron in the shop at the time, I had a clear view over the heads of the younger clients eyeing the delicious looking chocolate barks in the display case. I chose the Pandora’s Bark, dark chocolate surrounding various nuts and dried fruits, lightly sprinkled with a coarse salt.
Matthew’s Chocolates is now taking Valentine pre-orders. Call 919-732-0900 for more information or stop by the shop, open most days from at least noon until 8 pm.
Azurelise Gourmet Chocolate Truffles – Raleigh
Take some time to read the story of Azurelise and you begin to appreciate the art of crafting just the right flavor balance in a single truffle. Online orders for custom assorted boxes (9 to 30 pieces) can be picked up Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons in Raleigh (see the online order form for complete ordering instructions).
Elemental Chocolate – Various Triangle Retail Locations
I was introduced to Elemental Chocolates at The Saturday Market in downtown Raleigh last summer. The bare-bones, 70+% cacao dark chocolate coating, surrounding a crunchy, roasted cocoa bean center, delivers a powerful chocolate punch. If you know a chocolate lover that prefers their chocolate “straight up”, seek out Elemental Chocolates in any of the retail businesses listed on the company’s website.
Escazu Artisan Chocolates – Raleigh
This 2012 Good Food award winner is located on North Blount Street, adjacent to Market Restaurant, in Raleigh, and offers tours of their workshop the first Friday and Saturday of each month (though tours take a hiatus in February, due to higher demand during peak chocolate season). The store is open 11 am to 9 pm, Tuesday – Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday (closed Mondays).
The Chocolate Boutique – Raleigh
This new, European-influenced chocolate shop opened in December 2011 in North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village, and the owner crafts the confections using fair-trade Belgian and Peter’s chocolate. Not only can you purchase chocolate delights, you and your friends can schedule a party and learn to make your own ($15 per person).
Videri Chocolate Factory – Raleigh
Another “newbie” chocolate shop opened in Raleigh recently. Videri Chocolate Factory can be found in The Depot in downtown Raleigh and issues an open invitation to all who desire to see how chocolate is made (and it’s not as depicted in Willy Wonka, I assure you). The “factory” is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 am – 7 pm.
Red Light Chocolates – Various Triangle Retail Locations
Four of Red Light Chocolates most popular flavors are available in limited quantities in a special four-piece Valentine “Sweetheart Box”. One of those four flavors features Starrlight Mead’s semi-sweet Blackberry Mead, and can be pre-ordered for pick up at the “Mead and Your Honey” event at the meadery in Pittsboro, scheduled for February 11th. If you can’t wait until the 11th, you can try Red Light Chocolates tonight (February 3rd) paired with wines at Sip… A Wine Store (Cary) from 5 – 8 pm.
Now, if you’ll pardon me. I have some dark and lovely, crunchy and chewy, sweet and slightly salty bark that’s been calling my name. I hope you find a locally crafted chocolate to sweeten your life too.