Authentic family recipes offer unparalleled freshness along Greater Niagara's 'Chocolate Trail'by jmaloni
Cayenne pepper, Grand Mariner or a dash of French salt spice up traditional faves
Looking for the freshest candies this Easter and upcoming Mother's Day? Steer clear of the drug store and hop on the Greater Niagara Region's delicious "Chocolate Trail," which features outstanding confections made the old-fashioned way by local chocolatiers and sweet shops.
Created with all-natural ingredients and crafted to perfection, Western New York's specialty chocolate shops produce quality freshness that cannot be found in the "big box" candy aisles with prepackaged confections. Many of these family-owned sweet shops are run by third-generation candy makers, and have been serving up sweetness for decades.
Another bonus to buying straight from the source is you can ensure your Easter basket includes some dark chocolate. Science Daily calls it a "super fruit," because of its rich source of antioxidants, while the Cleveland Clinic reminds us this does not apply to all chocolate, as "most commercial chocolates are highly processed."
Oliver's Candies in Batavia, circa 1932, manufactures its candy in small quantities to ensure freshness. With more than 200 varieties of Easter bunnies alone, you'll fill every family member's basket with a trip to Oliver's. Oliver's uses natural ingredients such as honey, butter and lemon zest. Vice President Jeremy Liles said spicy chocolate is an up-and-coming trend and Oliver's is hopping on it by making peanut butter and caramel corn with cayenne pepper. (https://www.oliverscandies.com)
Heading toward Niagara County, you'll experiencePlatter's Chocolates in North Tonawanda, founded by Carl Platter in 1938 in the basement of his home. Known for its orange chocolate and orange fudge, Platter's was purchased by Rodger Urban in 1972. He had been a neighbor of the Platter family. Under his guidance, Platter's added crèmes, caramels and jellies. His children, Sherry, Bruce and Joe, carry on his tradition, introducing iconic local shapes such as buffaloes, chicken wings and even pizza slices. (http://www.platterschocolates.com)
In Orleans County, Dan and Sue Fuller have been in business as Della's Chocolates in historic Medina since 2011. They specialize in handmade chocolates, including truffles and chocolate patties made with milk, dark, white, or sugar-free Chocolate. (http://dellaschocolates.com)
Another charming newcomer in the Village of Perry: Sweet Sarah's. Sarah Schmitter opened her store in July 2009. Specialties include sea-salt caramel, giant peanut butter cups, and sponge candy. If you're looking for some unusual shapes, Sarah's fits the bill. "Our shotgun and deer-head molds are very popular for the dads' baskets," she noted. (http://www.sweetsarahschocolates.com)
Erie County is home to several renowned chocolate makers, including Fowler's Chocolates, Watson's Chocolates, Choco-Logo and newcomer Oh Pour L'Amour Du Chocolat.
Joseph A. Fowler came to Buffalo to experience the Pan American Exposition. There, he sold a small variety of chocolate. He founded Fowler's Chocolates in 1910 and was an instant success. His chocolate shops have been a Western New York staple ever since. Fowler's is well known for its sponge candy -35,000 pounds is produced every year. Fowler's shops in the GNR stretch from Buffalo through Tonawanda, East Aurora, Cheektowaga and Hamburg. (http://www.fowlerschocolates.com)
Watson's Chocolates is another local favorite, dating back to 1946, and spanning three generations. Guaranteeing satisfaction and quality, Watson's makes everything from fudge to sponge candy and jelly beans. Its bunnies and chicks can be found in East Amherst, Kenmore, Buffalo, Orchard Park, Lancaster and Niagara Falls. (http://www.watsonschocolates.com)
Choco-Logo, operating for two decades, provides upscale chocolates and popcorn to some of the country's most sophisticated retailers, as well as charities and businesses. It boasts a wide variety of truffles, salty caramels, and other sweet/salty combos. In 2005, it opened its picturesque factory to the public. Choco-Logo has four- and eight-month "Perpetual Plans" that mom will enjoy after Mothers Day has passed. (http://www.chocologo.com)
Oh Pour L'Amour Du Chocolat on Main Street in Amherst makes artisan chocolates using local products and ingredients. Some of its chocolatiers have studied in Paris and others have gone to local culinary schools, but all have mastered making chocolate in their own way. Described as "a mix of Parisian style with a 1920s soda shop feel," Oh Pour L'Amour Du Chocolat will fill your basket with sophisticated treats like truffles filled with Grand Mariner and champagne, and classic Parisian macaroons. (http://www.ohpourlamourduchocolat.com)
So, this year, start a new tradition and visit the charming chocolate shops that dot the Greater Niagara Region. These shops offer a variety of tastes and shapes to please chocolate and candy lovers of all ages, and products are freshly made with natural ingredients and authentic family recipes.
The Greater Niagara USA Region offers unique agricultural features and diverse culinary destinations stretching through its five diverse counties. The GNR's bounty of farms, markets, breweries, wineries and restaurants provide both day-trippers and vacationers with unforgettable experiences. For a listing of what there is to do and see in Greater Niagara USA, visit www.greaterniagara.com or call 1-800-622-2686.