Best Chocolates - 2009
Last year saw the closing of not a few chocolate shops in Phoenix, which meant we had to cast the net a bit wider for this year's winner. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we might not otherwise have made the trek to the Northwest Valley and found Chocolate Surprise, a delightful gem on Bell Road. Out front, hand-drawn pastel-colored cocoa beans chalked on the sidewalk prepare you for the thick chocolaty smell that hits when you walk through the door. The chocolatiers behind Chocolate Surprise were trained at the prestigious École Chocolat, a school for "chocolate arts" in Vancouver. They're professionals, and it shows. Chocolate Surprise sells dozens of artisanal truffles in fun flavors such as orange Dreamsicle, rose, sea salt caramel, and crème brûlée, in addition to safe classics like caramel squares and chocolate turtles. And at only $1.60 apiece, you can nibble on several different kinds if you have a long drive home.