In case you’ve been living under a rock, Valentine’s Day is Friday. So consider this your warning: back away from the Whitman’s Sampler. Here are our top six places to buy your sweetie chocolate or other sweet treats in the Tampa area.
William Dean Chocolates, 2223 N. Westshore Blvd. (International Plaza), Tampa or 2790 West Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs, (727) 593-0656 - Chocolates (and macarons) so beautiful, they’ve made on-screen cameos in both “Hunger Games” films. Maybe take a picture before you begin biting into flavors such as Grand Marnier caramel, creme brulee, banana’s foster and Mexican mango. The newly-opened Tampa location means you won’t have to travel so far. (Order online at www.williamdeanchocolates.com)
Qachbal’s Chocolatier, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813) 223-5919 - Tucked away in the entrance corridor of Channelside Bay Plaza since 2005, Qachbal’s creates its preservative-free chocolates on-site in small batches to ensure freshness. They’ll fill a fancy box with an assortment of truffles in flavors from peanut butter cayenne to bacon, or with their big strawberries dipped in three types of chocolate, starting at $5.99.
Toffee to Go, 3251 W Bay to Bay Blvd, Tampa, (813) 831-6247 - Started by a one-time stay-at-home mom, Toffee to Go’s popularity exploded when “O” The Oprah Magazine featured it as one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things,” and for good reason; their delicious toffee bears little resemblance to the often teeth-shattering variety sold in grocery stores. It crumbles easily when bit, and is much more buttery than versions from industrial kitchens. They keep it simple with bags of milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate covered toffee.
Tampa’s Chocolate Delight, 11751 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 933-7377 - The veritable candy wonderland (formerly Debbie’s Chocolate Delight) satisfied chocolate lovers for more than two decades at its old Busch Boulevard location. They’re in Carrollwood now, but there are still so many choices, you’ll be hard pressed to pick one: Handmade turtles and almond bark, bon-bons, chocolate-covered pretzels, caramels, butter creams and more. And they can turn your heart’s desire into confection from more than 4,000 molds (including naughty ones).
Schakolad, 408 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, (813) 259-1099 - A place so sweet, you may need insulin just driving by. Build your own box from assorted chocolates and signature truffles made on the premises. For Valentine’s Day, they offer a chocolate champagne bottle with chocolate champagne glasses filled with cherries, 3D chocolate roses or heart boxes made of chocolate and filled with chocolate. (Order online at www.schakolad.com)
Ashworth Artisan Chocolate, 1605 Snow Ave., Tampa, (813) 251-6764 - Handmade chocolates call to those who walk by this shop in Hyde Park Village. Fudge, truffles, chocolate-dipped pretzels and flavorful barks such as cherry pecan and sea salt almond will delight your Valentine. Definitely consider a box of artisan chocolates with flavors such as the tart key lime sunset and cocoa caliente with a hint of ancho chile pepper.