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Something Sweet for Your Sweet

Rule number one when making chocolate treats is to use good quality chocolate. “You can really tell the difference in taste” explained Linda Lewis, owner of BeachCastle Sweets in Anacortes. Lewis sells her chocolates in a handful of local stores and online, but she is also known for her interactive chocolate dipping parties where guests learn about chocolate, dip their own treats, and leave with about two pounds of sweet pieces. Adventurous chocolate lovers should try the BeachCastle Sweets Limoncello ganachelled white chocolate. Those afraid of leaving comfort zones should taste Lewis’s milk chocolate almond toffee. Adventurous and non-adventurous will love her sea salt caramels, a perfectly balanced sweet and salty, rich and creamy bite.

Lewis has been making chocolate treats since childhood. Her mother, whose portrait hangs in BeachCastle Sweets, taught young Lewis her signature almond toffee recipe. In 2006, Lewis began making batches of that recipe and sold them at farmers markets. The following year she decided to turn her hobby into a small business. Her two sons joined Lewis in the kitchen making boxes for the treats, with her son David now in charge of making nut clusters, dipped Oreos, and CastleCorn, a gourmet caramel corn with bits of toffee and drizzled with dark chocolate. Lewis speaks fondly of working alongside her sons. “You develop a relationship that you wouldn’t otherwise.” Making chocolate brings people together.

Chocolatier DIY

If you want to make chocolate treats at home there are some things Lewis advises, beginning with high quality chocolate. “If you want to make a really good chocolate product, you should use real chocolate.” It’ll require tempering, but it’s well worth the effort. Tempering means getting the chocolate crystals to align. Greyed chocolate and chalky-tasting chocolate isn’t tempered properly. Lewis says the best way to temper chocolate is to microwave two-thirds of the chocolate you plan to use at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each interval. When it’s smooth, add in the remaining one-third finely chopped chocolate. The result is a fool-proof tempered product.

It’s best to make chocolates on a dry day. Never refrigerate your creations. That means those decadent chocolate-dipped strawberries should be eaten right away. Humidity and cold creates condensation which ruins chocolate’s look and taste. Store non-fresh fruit chocolate in a cool, dark cupboard. Pair your chocolate (especially dark chocolate) with a not-too-sweet red wine like a Shiraz or blend. If it’s not an appropriate time for wine, drink a warm mug of coffee with your chocolate.

If you’re stumped for Valentine’s Day plans, consider a chocolate dipping party with girlfriends or a group of couples. It’s a sweet way to strengthen your relationships.

Want other sweet ideas, visit our Dine-Dessert section.

1715 L Ave., Anacortes

360.293.5897 | beachcastlesweets.com

"If you want to make chocolate treats at home there are some things Lewis advises, beginning with high quality chocolate. 'If you want to make a really good chocolate product, you should use real chocolate.' "