Find out which sweets to get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day! Self-proclaimed chocolate lover Sonja Hansen will review three local shops (Le Grand Confectionary, Candy Heaven and Ginger Elizabeth) leading up to Feb. 14.
Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates
It was difficult trying to herd my rowdy group of chocolate tasters into Ginger Elizabeth’s tiny shop (1801 L St.). I had brought with me my little sisters, freshman Bianca and second-grader Morgan, freshman Eivind Sommerhaug and his sister, seventh-grader Elise.
As we entered the shop, Morgan tugged at my arms and bombarded me with questions about the chocolate and if she could get ice cream while Elise started begging for tastes of flavors. Morgan was so excited about her prospective sugar rush that she kept jumping around and getting in the way of other customers.
We were so disorganized with our orders that I kept letting people in line pass us. The struggles of being a big sister!
Within minutes of entering the chic, bright store, a line had formed out the door, forcing me to hurry up with my chocolate selection. Luckily, the sweet attendant told me to take my time choosing.
Ginger Elizabeth offers 22 kinds of chocolate squares ($2 a piece). Some flavors are exotic, like the Palet D’or from Venezuela or the Maya Chile. The Palet D’or had small gold shavings and was bittersweet.
Others are fruity, like the Wildflower Honey Yogurt, Buttermilk Lime, Lemon, or Raspberry Rose.
The Raspberry Rose’s outer coat is a thin sheet of vanilla with what looks like a mist of raspberry sauce on it. It’s beautiful to look at, and Elise loved the fresh fruity taste.
The Lemon was too overwhelming and wasn’t chocolatey enough for me, but Morgan enjoyed the sour punch and asked for another.
There are also several variations of caramel chocolates, such as the Vanilla Bean Caramels, Lavender Caramels and, one of my favorites, Caramelized Milk & Coffee.
I also strongly recommend the crispy Peanut Butter that tasted like a PB and J and the creamy and slightly caramelly Crème Brȗlée.
Ginger Elizabeth also makes nine flavors of macarons ($2). When we were checking out, an employee told us to eat the macarons within three days and to keep them in a refrigerator because the fresh ingredients spoil quickly. We didn’t have to worry about that because with the help of my hungry sisters, we finished all 10 of them within minutes of our car ride home.
The Almond Vanilla macaron was slightly nutty, had whipped vanilla ganache and made me wish that we had gotten more than just two.
The Chocolate Brioche and Chocolate Ganache taste like ordinary bland chocolate croissants and definitely aren’t as exceptional as the Coffee Caramel.
Coffee and caramel complement each other perfectly. Neither overpowers the other, which makes it an outstanding cookie.
In addition to chocolate and macarons, Ginger Elizabeth offers hot chocolate ($4) and a variety of espressos ($1-5). I refused to buy my sisters either drink because I decided they didn’t need the extra energy boost.
I also decided against getting any ice-cream sandwiches ($6) or pints of ice cream ($10) because Hansens are notoriously messy eaters, and Dad would lose his mind if we ruined his new car.
Ginger Elizabeth has three types of stunning cakes: Opera ($6 per slice and $42 for a cake), Gianduja ($6 per slice and $42 for a cake) and Gateau Maison ($4.50 per slice and $32 per cake).
The Opera and Gianduja have creamy, colorful layers of chocolate, caramel and biscuit.
The Gateau Maison is a circle of plain European chocolate. (Customers must pre-order these beautiful cakes at least 24 hours in advance.)
Ginger Elizabeth is open on Valentine’s Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers and also accepts orders on its website.
—By Sonja Hansen