Still haven't gotten your significant other a gift for Valentine's Day? Don't worry, there's always the fail-safe option of a nice box of chocolates to honor the date. You could just pick up something brown and sweet from the grocery store, but let's be honest, if you want to really win some points you should probably head to one of these spots. The selection at these eight local sweet shops runs the gamut from imported Belgian sweets to hand-crafted bean to bar chocolate.
You can thank us on Sunday.
Chocolade van Brugge
For high quality European chocolate, your best option in town is Chocolade van Brugge in Scottsdale, a shop owned by a former Belgian who's since relocated to the Valley. The shop imports all their chocolate directly from Belgium, which means you can count on high quality flavor and a delicate texture that's unlike most American chocolates. On the downside, imported candy doesn't come cheap. Valentine's Day deals include a box of six chocolates and a bouquet of flowers for $40. For more information check the Chocolade van Brugge website.
This west side bakery comes courtesy of pastry Chef Gerald Cretton, who was born and raised in Switzerland. In addition to a variety of beautiful pastries, Cretton stocks a whole case of handmade Swiss chocolates and truffles at Napolean Bakery (formerly, La Napoleon). For more information check the Napoleon Bakery website and Facebook.
When it comes to bean to bar chocolates there aren't many players in town, but Nutwhats has been offering this specialty for years. The signature candies are called Scribbles that combine chocolate, brittle, and usually nuts, but the company also makes six single-origin dark chocolate bars ranging from 75% to 92% cacao. You can find these rare creations at Phoenix Public Market Cafe and Bodega in Scottsdale, while AJ's Fine Food stores stock the Scribbles candies. For more information check the Nutwhats website.
Karl's Quality Bakery
Though Christine Boener of Baker's Daughter no longer has her own storefront, you can still find her handmade chocolates at her family's bakery, Karl's Quality Bakery in Sunnyslope. It takes three-days for Boerner to make truffles from start to finish, so you can bet these are going to impress your boo. For more information check the Karl's Quality Bakery website or The Baker's Daughter website.
Cerreta Fine Chocolates
This Glendale spot is a Valley institution that has been making candy and chocolates for more than 40 years. Founded by Jim Cerreta Sr., who learned to make chocolate at Ben Heggy's in Canton, Ohio, Cerreta Fine Chocolates offers a variety of old fashioned confections that be be ordered online and picked up in store. Valentine's Day offers include chocolate roses for less than $5 a piece. For more information check the Cerreta Fine Chocolates website.
Looking for a chocolate alternative -- or just something cool because it's already nearly 90 degrees outside? Head to Sweet Republic in Phoenix or Scottsdale, where you can pick up a pint of handcrafted Belgian chocolate ice cream. A pint includes about five scoops of ice cream and costs $7.50. For more information check the Sweet Republic website.
Julia Baker Confections
Though it's located in a mall, this sweet shop is anything but run of the mill. To the contrary, Julia Baker Confections is the flagship store from local celebrity pastry chef Julia Baker, who's known from her Cooking Channel show Sweet Julia. The Biltmore area shop has all kinds of confections, including boxed chocolates, truffles, and more. Valentine's Day sets start at $16 for six chocolates. For more information check the Julia Baker website.
If you've got a real chocolate nerd on your hands this holiday, then you'll probably want to hunt down a bar or two from Stone Grindz. This Scottsdale company also offers bean to bar chocolates and in some pretty interesting flavors -- think, Cinnamon Cayenne, Mint and Cashew, and Salty Almond. Bars cost about $7 each and can be found at several locations around town including Phoenix Public Market Cafe, Tempe Farmers Market, and Wedge & Bottle. For more information check the Stone Grindz website.
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