The smell upon walking in the door of is enough to solidify a craving.
Chocolate wafts in the nostrils, but so do notes of fruit, spice and coffee. The shop’s décor is simple yet inviting. It’s a modern take on an old-school candy shop, mature enough for adults while still succeeding to create that kid-in-a-candy-store kind of anticipation.
With flavors like salted caramel, Tahitian vanilla, and peanut butter and jelly, it’s tough to make a choice. Especially when the chocolates are “painted” beautifully with their own distinct design according to flavor. A seasonal artist series is offered, featuring special designs and flavors.
Overall, the presentation is gorgeous and adds to the allure of making a choice. Luckily, they have several customized box options: You can choose to buy pieces individually, or gather four ($8), nine ($17), 15 ($26) or 30 ($48) candies that meet your fancy. All candies are cuddled up together in a gold box and tied with a dark red ribbon – again, a presentation that feels both mature and exciting, creating the chance to go home and relive the joy of opening the box to enjoy your indulgence. (That is, if you even make it home before you crack open the box.)
After much deliberation, I chose my four candies: lavender-honey, caipirinha, chipotle chile, and malted milk (the personal favorite of the woman who helped me). After my next four meals, I looked forward to the tiny chocolate treat that I knew would be packed with huge flavor, each one different and fun. And they did not disappoint.
The lavender-honey was subtle and light, not soap-like and overly fragrant like some herb-based foods can seem. Neither lavender nor honey overpowered the flavor. Of all the pieces I sampled, I actually would have wanted a little bit more of a distinct flavor from this one. But, it was well balanced, almost fruity, and certainly creamy. It seems like this candy would make a nice pairing with port for an after-dinner sweet.
I couldn’t pass up caipirinha. An Argentine cocktail in a piece of chocolate? Yes, please. This little piece of wonder was painted in greens and creams to reflect its ingredients of lime, mint and rum, just like the cocktail. I could taste each element and it hit my tongue with lots of tangy flavor. Now I realize that bartenders would be wise to incorporate some chocolate in their caipirinha for the perfect compliment.
Chipotle chile was phenomenal and provided that kick you expect from a spicy chocolate. Chile-based chocolates have become more popular recently, with companies like Lindt and Ghirardelli producing varietals that can be picked up at most grocery stores. Artisan’s version is a juiced-up edition of the trend, packing a lot into a little.
It’s no wonder that the woman’s favorite selection was malted milk. It had a classic, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth flavor to it, but in a richer, more refined way then say, a malted milk ball. It was like tasting perfectly creamed coffee; you know when it’s just right. I enjoyed it with a glass of cabernet, and it seemed to make a great pairing.
Artisan Confections also offers classes for tasting and making chocolates. Classes fill up quickly as chocolate tasting is gaining popularity along with wine and coffee.
After you enjoy a meal in the neighborhood, head over to finish off strong with your choice of the perfect sweet treat.
Artisan Confections is located at 1025 N. Fillmore St. in Clarendon.