It’s that time of year people scramble for Valentine’s gifts, whether for their loved ones or themselves…or, why not both? Florida sweets go beyond citrus-flavored candies, salt water taffy and our beloved Key lime pie. Have a look at some of our favorite Florida chocolatiers and purveyors of fine Sunshine State sweets–terrific spots to check out for February 14th, or any time you get a craving, for that matter.
Cupcake Sushi – Key West
Key lime pie hogs the spotlight in Florida—and that’s particularly true in Key West. But one of the best made-in-Florida sweets I’ve ever been regaled with is Cupcake Sushi, a made-in-Key West treat that’s revelatory both in presentation and taste.
Instead of rice, moist chunks of cake are the filling for chocolate-laden “sushi rolls.” The decorative roe and sashimi are (thankfully) made of colorful candies as delicious as they are pretty.
The Cupcake Sushi is sliced and presented just like real sushi rolls in a festive little gift box (if you order it for delivery, it comes packed in dry ice to keep it as fresh as possible).
I literally gasped with delight when I opened them—then proceeded to squirrel my sweet little sushi rolls away from my family, they’re that decadent. ~Terry
Garcia Nevett – Miami
When a box arrived in the mail, I carefully opened it to find a gorgeous array of chocolate confections and truffles from Garcia Nevett, chocolatier de Miami. There wasn’t a note to tell me who sent such a generous gift, but that didn’t stop me from sampling.
After biting into tangy passionfruit, vanilla rum ganache, and dark chocolate and salted caramel, and generously (I thought) sharing with my husband, I knew I’d found a new favorite chocolate shop.
The gift was made even more special when I learned a dear friend had sent it to me as a “thank you,” knowing how much I’d appreciate it. ~Susan
Oh My Gosh! Brigadeiros – Miami
We can thank Florida’s ever-increasing population of Brazilians for this divine little shop selling brigadeiros in Miami.
Fudge balls made with condensed milk and cocoa powder and rolled in sprinkles, brigadeiros first entered my lexicon when a neighbor from Rio de Janeiro brought me a plate for my birthday last year (they’re typically served along with cake for birthdays in Brazil).
You can eat them in situ with resident and visiting Brazilians, alongside a strong espresso drink, at Oh My Gosh! Brigadeiros, right along Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami’s MiMo district. ~Terry
Norman Love Confections – Fort Myers/Naples
Norman Love Confections had me at “chocolate” and “salon.” After all, I can’t think of anything more decadent than nibbling gourmet chocolates in a space designed to do just that.
Gourmet dark, milk and white chocolates, along with truffles and the Black collection (single-origin dark chocolates), take center stage in Norman Love Confections’ four Southwest Florida salons, beckoning you to have a look.
One look turns into a taste, and all of a sudden, if you’re anything like me, you’re leaving with a box of flavorful chocolates to enjoy at home. ~Susan
William Dean Chocolates – Belleair Bluffs
Sometimes chocolates are so exquisitely decorated that they wind up looking like works of art, nearly too beautiful to bite into. Nearly.
Artisan chocolates, impeccably decorated, are what Bill Brown, founder and Chief Chocolate Officer at William Dean Chocolates, makes by hand and in small batches every day at his shop in Belleair Bluffs, south of Clearwater.
Florida-inspired flavors like Key Lime, Pina Colada, or Tropical Caramel are on the menu, as are refined tastes like Port with Fig & Plum, Pear & Ginger Caramel and Rosemary Caramel. I, for one, always opt for a taste (or two) of Espresso. ~Susan
Peterbrooke Chocolatier – Jacksonville
Fans of salty-sweet treats find perfection in the milk chocolate-covered popcorn that’s the cult favorite at Peterbrooke Chocolatier.
I first discovered this little addiction while living in Jacksonville many moons ago (there’s the sweetest little shop there, just a few blocks from the ocean in Atlantic Beach). It’s a go-to Valentine’s Day gift in those parts.
And even if you’ve tried chocolate-covered popcorn before, this stuff stands apart for the buttery saltiness of the popped kernels and rich mouth-feel of the brand’s made-in-house milk chocolate. ~Terry
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