Discover Vermont Chocolates

May 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Regional specialties

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Photo Credit: Paul Rogers.

Known for culinary delights such as maple syrup and specialty cheeses, Vermont also has its share of superb chocolate makers.

Lake Champlain Chocolates
The state’s largest chocolate producer, based in Burlington, started small. In 1983, restaurant owner Jim Lampman began making hand-rolled truffles for his staff and select patrons. Demand was so great he soon turned to chocolate full time.

The company now owns three shops and cafés in Vermont, and sells its wares – truffles; raspberry, orange and cherry creams; hazelnut pralines; peanut butter cups; and Chocolates of Vermont (Belgian chocolate combined with rich local ingredients) – in over 1,200 independent specialty stores across the country.

The selection is diverse and delicious, but don’t take our word for it. Watch their chocolates being made, and enjoy discounts on factory “seconds” – slightly imperfect chocolates – at their factory store in Burlington.

In winter, the cozy, sweet-smelling café is THE place to sample the company’s four varieties of hot chocolate. And don’t worry, there’s a comparable summer ritual: locals and visitors welcome warm weather with a scoop of their sublime chocolate ice cream.

Laughing Moon Chocolates, Stowe
Owner and chocolate maker Leigh Williams has been creating artisan chocolates and old fashioned sweets in Stowe for over fourteen years, with an increasing commitment to local ingredients and the environment.

Hand-rolled truffles incorporate all kinds of rich liquor: Boyden Valley Wines, Green Mountain Distillers Sunshine Vodka and Maple Liquor, Flag Hill Farm Pear and Apple Brandys, and Rock Art Vermonster Beer. Their popular chocolate cookies, covered with milk, dark and white chocolate, come from the Sweet Crunch Bake Shop in Hyde Park.

And Laughing Moon makes more than chocolate – they recently started to candy fresh organic orange slices in Honeygardens of Vermont honey.

Tom & Sally’s Handmade Chocolates
Tom and Sally (yes, those are their real names) arrived from Manhattan nearly 20 years ago to live their dream of making chocolate in beautiful southern Vermont. Their line of sweets includes hand-crafted Luxury Chocolates; chocolate bars wrapped with vintage art; and old time pleasures, peanut brittle and almond toffee.

Our favorites are the 100% Organic Skinny Bars – rich in flavor, low in fat. These single serving size dark chocolate bars, made from 100% organic dark Belgian chocolate, with cocoa contents ranging from 66 to 78%, are infused with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, ginger root, peppermint leaves, and raspberry.

The yummy confections weigh in at 1.5 oz, and average about 200 calories a bar – which you can burn off in the one-hour guided factory tour in their Brattleboro headquarters.

Touring the state?
Visit these other Vermont chocolate makers, located a bit more off the beaten path:
Snowflake Chocolatiers, in Jericho
Daily Chocolate, in Vergennes
Vermont Chocolatiers, of Northfield
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, of Grand Isle
Nutty’s Steph’s Chocolate Factory, of Montpelier

And last but not least, discover these fine chocolate makers – and others – at the Chocolate Festival, the 3rd Annual Festival of Sweets, Nov. 21-22, 2009 at the Doubletree Hotel in Burlington.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Vermont

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is about great food and family fun. For this festive time, we’ve tried to find some fun things to eat and to do in Vermont. Here are our top choices:
1- Forget all the hard work and try one of these restaurants… if you are in Southern Vermont. I am relying on this article of Suzanne Donahue, who is suggesting three local restaurants with nice food and wonderful settings: the Four Chimneys Restaurant in Bennington; Arlington Inn in Arlington and the Ye Olde Tavern in Manchester Center. Let us know what you think!
2- Discover the 19th century traditions of Thanksgiving at the Billings Farm and Museum. Enjoy a visit with costumed guides and watch their demonstration of the preparation of a traditional 19th century Thanksgiving meal in the 1890 Farm House.
3- Sunday November 30, 7 pm, at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. Attend a Gospel Choir concert in Montpelier… in the spirit of the Holidays. “The gospel choir and band combines soul, jazz, original and traditional gospel music to produce an exuberant sound”, they promise us.
4- Saturday November 29, 11 am in Randolph. Be kids again… or bring your grand-children to a delightful marionette show. The show “The Hobbit” is the newest production of the No Strings Marionette Company. The reviews are great!
5- Indulge with chocolate turkeys (for something new): Lake Champlain Chocolates has them for you.
6- Personally I prefer cheese to chocolate! Why not make your Thanksgiving supper special and discover some of Vermont artisan cheeses for the occasion? See our recent article for a list of Vermont award-winning cheeses.
7- And if you are in Putney, take part in the 30th annual Putney Crafts Tour, which happens there every Thanksgiving Week-end. The Vermont Shepherd cheese company is just one of the 27 participating “artists”!
8- And last, but not least, get some special wine for this Thanksgiving celebration. It seems that this “poor girl gourmet” blogger knows her wine and she is recommending the Apple Maple Wine and Cassis Wine from Putney Mountain Winery for Thanksgiving. Why not try it?

And on this note, happy, happy Thanksgiving to you all!