The Niagara Chocolate Road Trip

All I have wanted to do this week is eat chocolate.

It’s not really my fault, though. My house is overflowing with delicious, locally produced chocolate.

Mmmm-hmmm. Locally produced chocolate.

After working on my Niagara Presents post, I’m making a concentrated effort to find more locally made stuff. Thanks to Niagara Presents, I now have a local option for my hot sauce, salsas, jams and such. But as Easter is almost upon us, my thoughts have naturally been turning to chocolate. I wondered just how many Niagara producers of chocolate there might be?

So far I’ve found eight.

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After my discovery, I knew it was time for a road trip. One day last week, Ken and I made a big loop around the region, to visit all of them. I was a little worried we couldn’t get to them all in one day, but we did. It seems like chocolate gives you lots of energy to move quickly. Not only did we taste some fantastic chocolate produced right in our region, we met some of the warmest, friendliest people.

There’s gotta be something in the chocolate.

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Our first stop was Sweet Thoughts in Ridgeville.

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Now this wasn’t my first visit to Sweet Thoughts. I came across them last year on a road trip in the Pelham area. I was thrilled to discover some lovely shops in Ridgeville. When you go there, make sure you stop at Nature’s Corner for some of their delicious food. Great sandwiches, soups, desserts. Really good coffee too.

Anyway. Back to chocolate.

When you enter Sweet Thoughts, you will see a charming shop filled to bursting with chocolate specialties. They are also known for their chocolate bouquets, but I think you could get anything you wanted in chocolate here

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I think it’s a brilliant idea to have edible baskets for candy.

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I left with some bunnies, and could happily have browsed even more. But we needed to get to our next destination, Marshville Chocolates, in Wainfleet.

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What started as a home based hobby for its founder, Elaine Malowany, Marshville Chocolates has grown into a bustling family business. Elaine’s daughter Mary Beth now carries the chocolate torch, offering a variety of chocolates, fudge, specialty items and gift baskets.

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When we arrived, a luscious chocolatey aroma greeted us. I assumed it was coming from the place where the magic begins – the chocolate production area.

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Lots of customers were there getting their Easter treats, and they had quite the selection to choose from. I loved the boating bunny myself.

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And oh goodness the staff were lovely. They all so graciously posed for this gorgeous picture.

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Loaded with more eggs and bunnies, we headed out to Port Colborne, for a stop at Heavenly Chocolates.

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One of the things that I really was impressed by was their selection of sugar-free chocolates. Ken is diabetic, so this is a bonus for him. I also like the taste of sugar-free chocolate, so Ken just has to share his.

They had the classic Easter treats, and more.

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I was particularly partial to this minion. It’s egg-shaped, so I think that counts for Easter too.

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Then we were back in the car, off to our next destination

You know I love my road trips, and that was the other enjoyable part of our chocolate tour. I love driving – and walking – around Niagara. There’s always something new to find, something new to see. This day it was sunny and clear, perfect for spotting those rambling old farmhouses, or just enjoying the wide-open scenery. Which we certainly did.

Nigh’s Sweet Shop was a welcome sight on our drive.

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I had heard of Nigh’s before, but had never had the chance to stop in. I am so glad I did this time. From now on, whenever I am in Stevensville, I am making a stop, no matter what I have scheduled.

Nigh’s is a family-run business, with roots going all the way back to 1958. You can read all about their story here.

Personally, I love hearing the stories behind these businesses. It is amazing to see that both Nigh’s and Marshville Chocolates are now being run by the next generation.

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There are so many bunnies to choose from at Nigh’s, and thought it was adorable that they all had special names. My favourite was Sir Hops-a-Lot, but you could also choose from Eddie, Pierre, Chubby Bunny or Bongo, to name just a few.

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They also had the necessary supply of carrots. Just for the Easter Bunny, you know.

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Though I think he’d be happy with this huge chocolate sucker too

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We met Rebecca, the owner, and several of her staff. We felt so welcome here, I’d want to stop in just to see these smiling faces. Oh, and buy some chocolate.

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Though this was already a great way to spend the day, what made it even more special was the people. Truly.

The welcome just kept on coming in my next two stops. The first was Criveller Cakes in Niagara Falls. Though they are well known for their incredible cakes and pastries, they are also known as “The Chocolate Craft Store”.

Look at this beauty.

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A 10 kg chocolate egg is the stuff of dreams, is it not?

But if 10 kilos is too much, they have smaller options too.

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When I asked if we could take pictures, our hostess couldn’t have been more obliging. She even went to get Giovanni, one of the owners, to say hello to us.

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But that’s not all. He sat down and chatted with us over a perfect espresso and some of their delicious pastries.

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The pastries were wonderful, the espresso excellent, the company enchanting.

I think I’m doing this chocolate tour every weekend.

We left with more pastries, and some of their beautiful inscribed Easter eggs. Now if you want to do something extra special, Giovanni told me that they can do a special order where a gift is placed inside the egg. Think engagement rings, gift cards, anything really. Apparently lingerie can fit in one of their eggs too.

Not that I know from experience, however.

After saying our good-byes, we were off to St. Catharines, to Chocolates Etc.

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I have driven by this store many times since I’ve moved to Niagara, and I’d never stopped in. This, my friends, is shameful. How could I have wasted three years of my life without Chocolates Etc?

Such beautiful craftsmanship.

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This bunny is a work of art. Yes, it is made of chocolate.

And below, a chick hatching out of an egg.

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Once again, we were so touched by the super friendly owners and staff.

This is Cindy. We have a special bond, both being girls from Etobicoke

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She also sat down with us, and shared some of the story behind Chocolates Etc. We had one of their excellent coffees, and sampled more delicious chocolate.

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I must admit, I was buzzing by this point. Really good coffee and really good chocolate in large quantities makes Jo an extremely energetic girl.

But that’s a good thing, right?

I had to buy the chick hatching out of the egg, it was so creative. I don’t know how I’ll have the heart to eat it. Well, I’ll try.

By this point the day was quickly coming to a close, and I still had two stops to make in my home turf of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

First, I made a brief stop at Chocolate F/X. Lots of Easter pickings, and some I hadn’t seen yet. Like these Bunny Tails.

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They also had a selection of baskets and other treats.

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Our final stop was Willow Cakes and Pastries.

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One of the best things about living at Highbrook, is that Willow is a five minute walk from my house. I am a lucky girl, indeed. Beautiful breads, desserts, chocolates and more. They have a good selection for Easter too.

Now I know it’s not chocolate, but these Easter cookies look so pretty.

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They have some beautiful looking eggs and other chocolate goodies.

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And after visiting Willow, our chocolate tour was complete. Eight absolutely scrumptious stops in one day, all around the region.

You can imagine I accumulated quite the stash from my chocolate tour. Here is the result of our travels.

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Well, only about half of this is left by now. What can I say. We make mighty fine chocolate in Niagara.

The great thing is, it’s not just for Easter. All of these shops make beautiful, decadent indulgences year round.

I hope that this post inspires you to do your own chocolate tour. Spectacular chocolates (and pastries, in some locations), beautiful Niagara scenery, and some of the friendliest people I’ve met made this a super way to spend the day.

If you know of any other chocolate spots in the region, please share them with me! Always willing to do Chocolate Road Trip #2 – The Sequel.