Coastal chocolatiers recommend these Valentine’s Day gifts

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When it comes to Valentine’s Day, there’s a universally enjoyable gift: chocolate. You practically can’t go wrong, especially the locally made chocolate. Whether it’s for your darling, your mother, your grandmother, your friend or your child, it is sure to bring a smile.

“Chocolate has a profound sensory impact no matter who eats it,” said Enna Grazier, chocolatier and owner of Enna Chocolate in Exeter. “It’s a special way to give a sensory experience of feelings and affection.”

Her pick for a Valentine’s Day gift is a bar she developed just for the celebration of romance. It’s the Love & Roses bar, made with 74% dark chocolate with cherry peppers and real rose petals.

“It’s Haiti chocolate, which has notes of cranberry, coffee and honey,” Grazier said. “It has a top note of rose petals and the spicy punch of cherry bomb peppers, this pepper has a fruity note.” It’s also vegan.

His inspiration was to give the Valentine’s Day bar “the warmth of midwinter and the romance of roses, all in one bar.”

The Love & Roses bar, $13, is available at the cafe at 152 Front St. in Exeter or online at ennachocolate.com.

Enna Chocolate in Exeter offers the Love & Roses bar for Valentine's Day, made from 74% dark chocolate with cherry chillies, rose petals and palm sugar.

Another romantic suggestion is to make a date with the Drinking Chocolate for 2 served in his cafe. “It’s an overflowing platter of marshmallows, whipped cream and little cocoa cookies served in a silver pot to share,” Grazier said. “It’s also a decadent treat for yourself, if you’re solo.” Local restaurants like Botanica and the Black Trumpet serve her chocolate drink for 2 on their Valentine’s Day menus.

The choice for Valentine’s Day gifts at La Cascade Au Chocolat, with locations in Portsmouth and Exeter, is the Bon Bon Valentine’s Day collection.

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Master chocolatier Samantha Brown begins brainstorming flavor ideas for the Valentine’s Day collection in August, then shapes each bon bon in the collection, designing them with rich colors and luxurious flecks of gold that make this unusual box of chocolates.

Brown, who co-owns the artisan chocolate business with fellow chocolatier Tom Nash and their wives, combines fine chocolate with specially selected ingredients for this year’s eight candies.

Samantha Brown, owner and master chocolatier owns one of the Valentine's Day shopping choices at La Cascade du Chocolat in Exeter.

“I think of all the gifts we give, the Bon Bon collection is the most interesting,” said Andy, Brown, Samantha’s husband and co-founder. “The flavors are inspired by Valentine’s Day. New this year is the passion fruit bon bon; the popular favorite is Spanish hot chocolate. We have refined the collection over time so that it is different every year.

The Bon Bon Valentine’s Day 2022 Collection includes The Power of Love, a passion fruit chocolate ganache in a dark chocolate shell; Roses, a rose with a white chocolate ganache in a white chocolate shell; Strawberry-Covered Chocolates, a dark chocolate ganache in a strawberry chocolate shell; Spanish Hot Chocolate, a dark chocolate ganache rolled in cinnamon, sugar and a hint of cayenne paper; and Midnight Truffle, a dark chocolate ganache dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in 100% cocoa powder, among others.

You can choose an 8, 12 or 24 piece box ranging from $28 to $84, or you can also create your own box and purchase from their stores at 109 Water St., Exeter and 214 State St., Portsmouth or on the chocolate waterfall .com.

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Chef William Poole, a 35-year-old chocolatier who opened his Wm Poole Confections shop in Somersworth last fall, has a favorite Valentine’s Day gift suggestion.

“We have a special treat from our Valentine’s Day collection,” Poole said. “A one pound chocolate heart box with lid that contains three of our new confections. A liquid central caramel, a champagne flavored truffle and our new Livorno truffle, which contains spices such as anise, cinnamon, vanilla, juniper and cherries in dark chocolate.

This box of edible chocolates includes chocolates with a liquid caramel heart, champagne truffles and chocolates based on anise, cinnamon, juniper, vanilla, orange and sour cherries.  The one pound edible box is made with 100% Venezuelan semi-sweet chocolate.  The box can be pre-ordered and pre-paid for $69.  Only 30 boxes of edible chocolate will be made.

The limited-edition box is made from a vintage production chocolate mold — yes, the heart-shaped box is also made of chocolate you can eat and contains a dozen truffles, Poole said. The giveaway costs $69 and can be pre-ordered in store at 58 High St., next to Somersworth Town Hall, or at wmpoole.com.

Sally Baybutt is a chocolate consultant and owner of La Belle Chocolat, a division of Chocolate by Sparrow, the family chocolate distribution business where she has worked for 25 years. In recent years, she has established the La Belle Chocolat chocolate museum on Middle Street in Portsmouth. With many chocolate-themed artifacts and historic prints, the museum is also a chocolate tasting room where it features programs and events. And like any good museum, there is a gift shop where you can find something for your valentine.

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Baybutt suggests giving your Valentine her Cocoa Bombs, which are dark chocolate spheres filled with hot chocolate and decorated for the Valentine’s Day holiday at her shop at 591 Middle St. or Chocolatebysparrow.com. Museum hours vary, so check the website before you go.

Sally Baybutt recommends Cocoa Bombs for a great Valentine's Day gift at her store, La Belle Chocolat, in Portsmouth.

“Chocolate is one of those special things in life,” Baybutt said. “Almost everyone loves it, and a lot of people love it and are passionate about it. It’s a fascinating product, it has so many angles and don’t forget, it’s also healthy.

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