Chocolate shops in SLO County: A handful of Valentine sweet spots

Handmade chocolates and other sweet treats are the specialty of these four businesses, which are sure to have the right box for your special someone

Special to The TribuneJanuary 24, 2013 

Valentine’s Day is on approach, so that means you can justify doing “research” on a favorite food group — chocolate! Here are some local sweet spots to get you started.

Gerald’s Olde Tyme Chocolates

1741-A W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach | 489-3468

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday

The “Olde Tyme” in the name here isn’t a gimmick. Gerald Reed not only learned his craft more than 40 years ago from a third-generation English chocolatier, but also purchased the time-tested recipes.

After owning and operating several local businesses having nothing to do with sweets, Reed and his wife, Bea, opened their retail business about six years ago. They moved to their current location on West Grand Avenue three years ago, where Gerald makes everything from fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Among the "tymeless" favorites are not only the chocolates, but also nut brittles and whipped cream fudge. Bea noted that the copyrights on most of these recipes date back to 1927, by the way, so this isn’t the place to come for sugar-free treats. That concept didn’t exist back then!

The Truffle Garden

788-4688 | www.trufflegarden.com, please allow at least three days for orders

Patty Mena rolled out The Truffle Garden over a decade ago. Her personally handcrafted chocolate truffles are “made to order with fresh cream and butter,” she said. “They’re super fresh, and taste that way, so they’re meant to be eaten within a few weeks.” (If you’re able to resist them that long, Mena noted that you should keep them in a cool, dry place, but not the refrigerator or freezer.)

Currently, The Truffle Garden has a lineup of about a dozen flavors, from hazelnut to Mexican chocolate to lemon chiffon. Boxes of various quantities are available, including special-occasion favor boxes. The fresh truffles can also be found at Claiborne & Churchill Winery and Saucelito Canyon Winery, both located in the Edna Valley.

Herrmann’s Chocolate Lab

712-7800

To enjoy some chocolate and wine pairing in Paso Robles, head to Changala Winery for delectable bites from Herrmann’s Chocolate Lab. All were created to match perfectly with the wines, such as pink peppercorn dark chocolate to go with the label’s slightly peppery Syrah, but they’re pretty darn tasty on their own as well. Chocolates are available for purchase at the winery.

Just Baked SLO

242-5948 | www.justbakedslo.com

For a different riff on sweet tooth satisfactions, check out the treats available from Just Baked SLO. Owner Annie Farrell translated her “passion for food” into this custom dessert and catering company in 2010.

Typical offerings include chocolate chip cookies and spiced oatmeal raisin cookies, coconut pecan bars and salted caramel brownies, plus salted caramel dessert sauce and seasonal lemon curd.

For Valentine’s Day, Farrell “will probably be offering whoopie pies or a selection of desserts with the theme of ‘perfect pairings’ — peanut butter and chocolate, etc.”

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

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