Handcrafted chocolates are a treat any time of the year. But, New Hampshire might not be the first place you think of as a chocolate-lovers haven, but a surprising number of fine chocolatiers dot the landscape of every region–some on main streets in town centers, others tucked away in more rural corners of the state. All boast the hallmark of fine confections: handmade by experienced chocolatiers with the best of ingredients. Some shops have carried on a family chocolate-making tradition for generations; several have gained national and even international reputations for their confections. What could be more romantic than a handcrafted chocolate, a full moon’s light, and a warm fire in a picturesque country inn?
SUMPTUOUS ON THE SEACOAST
The Chocolatier has been an Exeter institution for years. Located on Water Street in the center of town, the shop makes chocolates in small batches to ensure freshness. The Chocolatier is known for its large selection of unique molds–they’ll even custom-make one for you–and they offer over 50 varieties of handcrafted chocolates. Specialty items include a miniature tool set with dark chocolate saw, hammer, and wrench; chocolate-covered marzipan; truffles; and whimsical molded turtles (they sell the standard variety, too!)
Fine confections and chocolates line the walls of Byrne & Carlson Chocolatier and Confectioner on State Street in Portsmouth. Chocolate seashells, cashew brittle, Australian apricots dipped in chocolate, delicate nut wreaths, and their specialty–the pansy bar, made of Belgian chocolate topped with a crystallized real pansy–are among the dozens of candies to choose from. Husband and wife candy makers Christopher Carlson and Ellen Byrne hand-make each confection. They import blocks of chocolate from Belgium, France, and Venezuela, and use fine liquors, fresh cream, marzipan, and fresh-roasted nuts for the fillings. Byrne & Carlson has gained national recognition and made this year’s USA Today list of "10 Great Places to Dip into Luscious Chocolate."
Sanborn’s Fine Candies offers handmade chocolates and candies at two locations in Hampton, and also makes them available through its on-line store. Choose from an assortment of chocolate-covered fruits and nuts, caramels, barks, or cream-fillings; sugar-free varieties are also available.
CHOCOLATE IN THE HEART OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Jeff Bart, co-owner of the Granite State Candy Shoppe, is the third generation in his family to make fine chocolates and candies from this 19th century storefront on Warren Street in Concord. Granite State offers fudge, turtles, cordial cherries, cream and nut- filled chocolates, and even a dark chocolate heart-shaped box.
MAGNIFICENT CHOCOLATE IN THE MONADNOCK REGION
Larry Burdick began making chocolates in New York City over a decade ago for a small number of fine restaurants and caterers. Now located in Walpole, L. A. Burdick Chocolate delivers weekly to New York and ships internationally. Burdick’s uses the best ingredients: mostly dark chocolate–which has higher than usual concentrations of cocoa butter–imported from France, Switzerland, and Venezuela. They don't use extracts, concentrates or flavorings, instead deriving flavors directly from their sources: brewed coffees and teas, cooked fruits, squeezed oranges and lemons. Add to that local honey, milk, cream, and butter and it’s easy to see why Burdick’s chocolates are a connoisseur’s delight. Specialty items include champagne truffles, chocolate cigars, mice-shaped chocolates with ribbon tails, nougats, marzipan, and shaved chocolate for the most delicious cup of hot chocolate you’ll ever taste!
Ye Goodie Shop in Keene is housed in a brick building opposite the Colony Mill Marketplace, on West Street. The shop has a wonderful assortment of individual and boxed chocolates–all hand made–and you can even watch the process through big glass panels as you revel in the aromas and browse the selections. Ye Goodie Shop’s array of fine confections include dipped chocolates filled with maple, coffee, butter, or raspberry creams; nougat; butter crunch; nuts and fruits; and of course, truffles.
LUSCIOUS CHOCOLATE IN THE LAKES REGION
Kellerhaus in Weirs Beach is New Hampshire's oldest candy maker. Its tradition of creating fine chocolates and candies began in 1906 with Otto G. Keller, and has been passed down through four generations. Now owned by Jeff and Bettina Potter, Kellerhaus uses the same candy-making techniques, recipes, and equipment–much of it dating to the turn-of-the-century– to this day. Their delicious handmade treats include gold coins, hedgehogs, thin mints, turtles, peanut butter cups, pecan bark, and clusters. Kellerhaus operates an extensive gift shop, restaurant and candy shop–where you can watch the candies being made. Chocolates and candies are available year-round on-line and the store is open from late spring through the Christmas season.
CHOCOLATE WONDERS IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS
What could be better than homemade fudge and hand-dipped chocolate amidst the stunning scenery of the White Mountain National Forest? In North Conway, chocolate-lovers head straight to the Bavarian Chocolate Haus for an array of delectable treats. One of their specialties is a flat, cookie-like cluster of hazelnuts on a butter toffee base, drizzled in dark chocolate. In addition, there are the dipped and molded chocolates, and several delicious cream-filled favorites.
GREAT CHOCOLATE IN THE GREAT NORTH WOOODS
French owners Marc Ouinis and Verlaine Daeron serve delicious baked goods, Belgian chocolates, and light meals at Le Rendez-Vous, a newly-opened bakery and chocolate shop in a charming, historic setting on Main Street in Colebrook. Couches and dining tables overlook a glass partition where customers can watch the baking in progress. Two years of remodeling efforts returned the interior of the 1888 building to its historic appearance of over a century ago.
27 Water Street, Exeter 03833
Byrne & Carlson Chocolatier & Confectioner
121 State Street, Portsmouth, 03801
Sanborn’s Fine Candies
Route 1, 293 Lafayette Road, Hampton 03842
Granite State Candy Shoppe
13 Warren Street, Concord
P.O. Box 593, Main Street, Walpole 03608
Ye Goodie Shoppe
222 West Street, Keene 03431
259 Endicott St N, Weirs Beach, 03247-5337
Bavarian Chocolate Haus
Route 16, North Conway 03860
Main Street, Colebrook 03576