“Happy Valentine’s Day” sounds hollow without an accompanying card and box of chocolates…
Hallmark has trained us well.
Before swinging by the supermarket for a predictable, shrink-wrapped box, consider the alternative. Show your sweetheart you really know and love her (or him) with the perfect box of chocolates selected from one of these First Coast chocolatiers.
For the Foodie
French chef Claude Franques makes distinctive chocolate in St. Augustine. He makes caramel by color, not by temperature. He fills many of his 30 chocolates with time consuming French praliné. He is a master.
“In France, you have chocolate every day,” Claude shared, his French accent thick even after four decades in America. He remembers his favorite bon bon shop and is happy to bring that experience to three neighborhoods on the First Coast: Palencia, St. Augustine’s Market on Granada and Avondale’s Green Man Gourmet.
A Jacksonville Classic
Renee Livengood is a Registered Nurse and sixteen years ago with the encouragement of her colleagues she started Heavenly Chocolate Creations on Lenox Avenue. Many of the doctors and nurses she works with were her first customers. Renee shared that her mom and kids help in the store making Heavenly “a true, local, family business.” Heavenly’s biggest seller is “Sweet Dreams,” a chocolate with a creamy inside modeled after the Annaclairs Jacksonville locals remember from May-Cohens downtown department store.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier was named after the founder’s children, Peter Behringer and Brooke Joyner, who remember their mom bringing home chocolate covered popcorn. Brooke stayed in the business, buying the Atlantic Beach Peterbrooke franchise. She loves Valentines and shared, “I go through about 70 flats of strawberries…thousands of them! We get in at 3:00 a.m. and dip all day long for 3 days straight. It’s so much fun. I love it!”
For the Adventurous
“There are three types of chocolates in our case,” 3 Sisters Chocolates owner, Jeff Guy, shared. “Truffles, made with ganache centers, and assorted chocolates which are made with our velvet or meltaway centers.” Mandarin residents likely drive by 3 Sisters daily – their location near 295 on San Jose Blvd. makes this an easy stop for Valentines’ treats. And with unique combinations, like Basil Lime Truffle, a visit is always an adventure in taste.
For the Health Conscious
Brooke’s brother, Peter Behringer, also continued the family chocolate legacy by opening Sweet Pete’s in Springfield. I tried his vegan, gluten-free, all natural line and enjoyed every bite – Jacksonville’s health-conscious crowd can indulge guilt free with a trip to Sweet Pete’s! The store is magical like Willy Wonka’s factory and carries everything from cherry cordials to chocolate meltaways.
Amelia Island’s Sweet Spot
Fantastic Fudge has been the sweet shop in Amelia Island since 1988. Turtles, coconut clusters and peanut butter cups are some of the treats you’ll find for your sweetie…if you can resist the fudge boiling in the copper kettle!