Savor that classic Valentine gift in many forms at these local shops.
February is chocolate season. If there’s ever a time to indulge in a sweet treat, it’s the month of enduring love, snow and cold. There are so many ways to enjoy one of the world’s favorite flavors—from Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes and fluffy macarons to warming winter hot chocolates and flaky chocolate croissants. And with a plethora of area shops selling locally made chocolate treats in a variety of forms, there’s nothing stopping us—or you.
To get you in the chocolate mood (if it’s even possible to not be), we’ve put together a list of some standout bakeries, cafes and chocolatiers that you should put on your radar this year.
— Edelweiss Bakery —
For 17 years, Edelweiss Bakery has brought European-style baked goods to the corner of Dakota and Main streets in Prior Lake. This award-winning company, known around town for its caramel rolls and lemon blueberry scones, doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to chocolate. The chocolate croissants are painstakingly crafted layer by flaky layer each morning, with bakers coming in as early as 2 a.m. to hand-make Edelweiss’ classically made goods for the morning rush.
“I never shy away in telling anyone, this is a really hard job …but I just love it,” says owner Laurie Lin. “There’s just something about working with your hands, creating something, watching people come through and enjoy it, and it brings a smile to their face. Especially with everything that’s going on in the world, just that simple joy of people coming in and getting a great cup of coffee and a pastry and sitting down and having conversation with somebody and knowing that you’re providing that space for them, I really just love it.”
Since Lin and her husband, Joe, took the helm in January of 2019, Edelweiss has kept all of the best of its original menu and mission, with a few updates. Display cases now include rows of colorful French macarons, scones and decadent cakes among a classic assortment of chocolate donuts. Whatever time of day, visitors to Edelweiss will be tempted to sit and stay awhile, partnering its sweets with a latte or savory meal. Edelweiss rebranded in 2022, giving its café space a facelift and expanding hours with an evening wine bar concept that includes small plates, grazing boards, wine and beer. “We have a whole new look and a whole new logo and, yeah, people are really excited about it!” Lin says. Weekend visitors can often be met with lines stretching down the sidewalk. Though those who are in the know order their favorites online at the beginning of the week to skip the line on Saturdays.
— Abdallah Candies —
Each chocolate and confection at Abdallah Candies in Apple Valley holds a legacy of perseverance. For more than a century, family has been at the heart of its operations. Original crafter and Lebanese native Albert Abdallah made his way in Minneapolis through his candies, perfecting recipes and building a lasting business. Today, fourth-generation family owners Karen and Steve Hegedus continue in Abdallah’s legacy with small-batch candy making, pure ingredients and a few of Abdallah’s original copper kettles—all found at the factory and gift shop in Apple Valley.
From its home base, the Abdallah staff craft and sell more than 200 varieties of candies to locals and fans nationwide. Even after 42 years at Abdallah, gift shop manager Judith Florio is still as much a lover of chocolate as ever. “I honestly don’t have a favorite,” Florio says, “I used to say there’s one that I don’t care for, but since that time, I’ve decided that’s ridiculous, and
I have gotten to love and appreciate it, too.” Some of the shop’s top sellers include whipping cream truffles, nut clusters and sea salt caramel chocolates. Visitors can choose from a selection of candies and assorted boxes. Abdallah also offers hand-packed boxes where customers may select pieces from the display case to fill a box of their choosing. Come Valentine’s Day, Abdallah will offer heart-shaped boxes as well. And gift-wrapping is always complimentary.
“One of the favorite sayings that came down from Mr. Abdallah through the generations is that it’s delicious on purpose,” Florio says. “… Everybody that’s involved with it—whether it be the owner or his family or the people that are working at it—they all realize that where they’re working is pretty special, and they work hard to produce something
that is a quality candy.”
— Bakery at Mason Jar Kitchen & Bar —
Enjoying a chocolate cupcake is just one way to experience the Bakery at Mason Jar Kitchen & Bar (formerly known as Cupcake Bakery) at Thomas Lake Center in Eagan. With a quaint setting and modern décor, Bakery patrons can enjoy a coffee and conversation along with a sweet treat.
When it comes to sweets, cupcakes are the main event. Since 2004, the bakery’s artisanal cupcakes have been the talk of the town, garnering many local and national awards, including the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Some chocolate standouts include cup o’ mud, a rich chocolate cake topped with chocolate mousse and rolled in Oreo crumbs, and handle caramel, a chocolate cupcake filled with caramel sauce, topped with caramel mousse and dipped in dark chocolate ganache. The bakery also offers an assortment of gluten-free and vegan options, including a gluten-free raspberry chocolate cupcake and vegan grasshopper cupcake. “We try to ensure we always have something for everything,” says Ryan Mayer, chief marketing officer at Mason Jar Kitchen & Bar. “We offer five flavors of vegan cupcakes, four flavors of gluten-free cupcakes and all 15 flavors of our French macarons are always naturally gluten-free.” Cupcakes can be purchased in-store or ordered ahead of time for store pickup or local delivery. Other options for chocolate lovers will come in the form of French macarons (including a white chocolate lavender flavor), mousse cups, Sebastian Joe’s ice cream and rotating pastries.