Find out which sweets to get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day! Self-proclaimed chocolate lover Sonja Hansen will review three local shops leading up to Feb. 14.
Le Grand Confectionary
To be honest, I was a little nervous walking to Le Grand Confectionary (2580 Fair Oaks Blvd.). I pass the shop often because it is next to Yo Yo Yogurt, which my family frequents, but I had never gone in.
It looks like a refined shop only for high society and chocolate aficionados, and I feared I would quickly be seen as an uneducated chocolate peasant and be turned away.
But this time I worked up some courage, bringing sophomore Molly Gherini as back-up.
The store was empty when we arrived except for a lady who warmly greeted us and made small talk as we browsed the shelves. While I was wrong about my expectation of prim and proper staff, I was right about the store and chocolate being super sophisticated. The clerk told us that all the chocolate in the store is Belgian.
Around the room were tidy tables with perfectly arranged, classic red, pink and black heart-shaped boxes, wrapped in shimmering black-patterned paper. The largest box ($36) had a flawless array of 36 truffles, nut clusters and chews.
There was an enormous range of truffles. According to Le Grand’s website, they offer 26 flavors with incredibly fancy titles, like Amaretto, Black Forest, Grand Marnier and White Decadence. Boxes have as few as three truffles ($8.60) or as many as 25 ($39.50).
I chose the six-piece box ($10.65).
While I was eyeballing them, the lady warned me about how rich the truffles are and that I might want to take it slowly. I rolled my eyes.
“I’ve eaten chocolate before!” I thought. “This can’t be any different!”
But it was.
After one bite of the spicy tiramisu truffle, which tasted exactly like coffee, I wanted to go take a nap. It was so rich and was such an incredible flavor overload that I was exhausted.
Just the sight of these full-flavored truffles sends chills down my spine. These truffles aren’t kidding around.
The milk chocolate truffle is also well worth the expense and obviously not your average grocery-store junk. However, I would avoid the caramel truffle at all costs. Biting into one of these gooey candies is like eating a stick of fruity lip balm.
If your sweetheart enjoys fruity treats and would like an alternative to classic chocolate-dipped strawberries, I’d recommend Le Grand’s chocolate-dipped dried apricots or peaches ($1.25 apiece).
The treats don’t look as perfect as all the other sweets in the store, slightly resembling messy bath bombs, but the juicy fruit and rich chocolatey taste make up for the appearance. The fruits aren’t overly sweet, but more tart instead.
In the back of the room, Molly and I found a sample bowl of what looked like milk chocolate shavings. They tasted fantastic. Molly took four more immediately.
They tasted like thin vanilla cookies dipped in chocolate, but the clerk revealed that they were actually chocolate-covered potato chips! Chocolate-covered potato chips are generally expected to be sweet, salty and a little greasy. It’s the perfect fatty state fair or trailer park food and now it’s trending in upscale boutiques like Le Grand.
But this was the very last batch! They would no longer be sold because it takes too long to dip the chips into chocolate twice and they aren’t as popular as the other sweets, she told us.
Wide-eyed and heartbroken, I grabbed two bags before leaving.
Check back for the next review on Candy Heaven!
—By Sonja Hansen