I appreciate emails from readers asking where to locally source something that is easy enough to pick up at any drug store. In my inbox this week, a request from a reader asking where to buy locally made/produced chocolate for Easter baskets.
I’m a big fan of chocolate (wouldn’t you be suspicious of any food writer who wasn’t?), and locally, I can think of three businesses that craft chocolates worthy of a gift or Easter basket. My chocolate loving mind instantly goes to the Johnson Candy Company, which has been a longtime staple in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, and the producer of candy here for more than 80 years.
I stopped by Johnson Candy to peruse the Easter inventory and I was flabbergasted by the array of Easter candy in the store now. Turn a circle in the store, and you’ll find something handcrafted and special to tuck into any Easter basket. Click “more” to see what I found at Johnson Candy, and to read the e-mail from a reader explaining why she wants locally sourced chocolate for her child’s Easter basket.
I am trying to have a less-commercial Easter. When I grew up, my mom would never buy us candy from the grocery store for our Easter baskets because, as she used to say, the Easter Bunny made candy so the Hershey labels on my chocolate would ruin that illusion.
So here I am trying to find chocolatiers in the Olympia/Tacoma area and it’s really difficult because a lot of the little shops don’t have Web sites. And, as I am not from here, I don’t know where to go and I don’t know what the reputations are for shops. See’s is the obvious answer, but there have to be more shops than See’s.
Alyssa, indeed there are more shops than See’s, which does make great chocolates, but isn’t exactly Tacoma centric.
What does come to mind for locally sourcing Easter chocolates are three stores: Johnson Candy Company, Affairs Café for homemade truffles and other candies, and the retail stores for Brown & Haley candies.
For traditional Easter candy, Johnson Candy carries a full inventory of choices dressed up in pretty pastel Easter colors. I found everything from chocolate dipped marshmallow Peeps to coconut chocolate bird nests ($1 each) to Easter themed chocolate lollipops and sugar suckers in pastel hues (prices vary). By the cash register, I found chocolate covered peanut butter smidgens in adorable little bunny shapes for $2.85 a bag. I think my son will love the chocolate covered cream center eggs ($2.90 each) I bought him in flavors of coconut cream, divinity, fudge, peanut butter and vanilla fudge. Johnson’s carries more than 15 different flavors of chocolate covered eggs, which are too big to eat in one sitting, although I gave it my best shot today (and had the sugar crash to prove it).
Beyond the Easter offerings, Johnson’s sells a wide range of candies, but I appreciate the truffles most, and I buy them year round. They’re small enough to be a modest indulgence, and big enough to satisfy a serious chocolate craving. They come in a wide range of flavors.
In University Place, Affairs offers grown-up confections in the form of sinfully rich, large truffles. I’ve also seen other handcrafted candies in their display case. At Brown & Haley’s retail outlet stores, you can find the usual assortment of candies from the iconic Tacoma candy company known for its signature candy, Almond Roca.
YOUR TURN: Where do you buy your locally made chocolates? Please share with readers your local favorites.
Johnson Candy Company
Where: 924 Martin Luther King Jr Way
In stock: A wide assortment of homemade chocolates, ranging from more than a dozen flavors of milk and dark chocolate covered cream eggs ($2.90 each) to chocolate bunnies with peanut butter centers ($2.85 per package) and other items like jelly beans, coconut nests ($1 each) and chocolate covered marshmallow peeps.
Where: 2811 Bridgeport Way W., University Place
Read here about new truffles debuted last November: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2009/11/23/three-new-truffles-meet-eaters-at-affairs/#ixzz0jiCB0fir
In stock: An assortment of high-end homemade truffles, as well as other homemade candies that would serve as beautiful Easter gifts, as well as high-end chocolate gifts for any occasion.
Brown & Haley retail stores
Where: 110 East 26th St, Tacoma; 253-620-3067
Where: 2105 Frank Albert Road, Fife; 253-926-0240
In stock: An assortment of the usual Brown & Haley products.