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Food + Drink

Seattle’s Killer Chocolate Scene

Coffee? Check. Dungeness crab? Check. Chocolate? Wait, what? Seattle’s present-day reputation has been built on the caffeine fix, impossibly fresh seafood and a flourishing microbrew scene. But now, add the luscious byproduct of the cacao tree to the culinary mix as over 50 chocolatiers are creating handcrafted sweet treats throughout the city. Here’s where you can find our favorite Seattle chocolate shops.

The Trailblazer

Fran Bigelow opened her first Fran’s Chocolates shop in 1982, kick-starting a regional trend towards artisanal Seattle chocolate that she later fueled with delicate, salt-capped confections. Stop into her flagship store just south of Pike Place Market, or her store in Georgetown, for a sample. You’ll get the full effect of that perfect sweet and salty yin-yang balance by placing it salt-side down on the tongue, which keeps the flaked, crunchy salt from dissolving too quickly. Fran’s locally-made dessert sauces, like sweet caramel or dark chocolate, make great gifts. Better yet, take them home as a personal indulgence, especially when poured over some fresh fruit or ice cream.

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The Trail

Chocolate lovers rejoice. With so many options and only so many hours in the day, the Chocolate Indulgence Tour offers a two-hour exploration of the Pike Place Market area which includes plenty of samples from the stars of Seattle’s chocolate and dessert scene. A pink umbrella toting chocolate connoisseur leads the way, starting at Cupcake Royale, known for its daily, from-scratch baking and use of local Seattle ingredients like sweet butter and bacon. You also swing by Dahlia Bakery for a taste of their famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie. Ok, not chocolate, but owner Tom Douglas’ warm macaroons or seasonal cakes filled with dark chocolate mousse will appease the purists. The bakery is small and there’s usually a crowd, but you can always take your dessert items to go. Feeling a sugar buzz en route? Don’t worry, you get a bag to take home to devour later.

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Photo by Ed Anderson

Off-the-Beaten Path

Chocoholics shouldn’t leave Seattle without heading four miles north to the Fremont neighborhood, home of Theo Chocolate, which churns out award-winning bars made with organic, fair trade cocoa from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The talented chocolatiers produce organic, fair-trade chocolate exclusively, the first to do so in the nation. Housed in a 100-year-old red-brick building, Theo Chocolate roasts raw cacao beans on site, and offers tours of the production process, from the laboratory to confectionery kitchen seven days a week. Samples? You bet. Plus, you get to keep the snazzy blue hairnet.

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Read the original story: Chocoholic? Good Thing There’s a Seattle Chocolate Scene by Kathleen Gossman, who is a regular contributor to Marriott Traveler