On a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, in May 2010, we checked out the very small local chocolate scene. We found one local institution and an artisan chocolatier, leaving us lots of time to wander the beaches, hike around Point Lobos, and marvel at the gorgeous weather.
Cottage of Sweets: A Carmel institution, in business over 40 years and housed in one of Carmel’s iconic cottages. They carry their own fudge, truffles and chocolates, plus British and novelty candies, and licorice from all over the world.
We tried a variety of their handmade dark chocolates, including the most expensive item on their menu: Giant Peanut Butter Cups (approx. $4 ea.). This was a case of bigger is not better; the chocolate was hard, had a bit of a bloom, and was so thick it was almost impossible to bite through to the peanut butter inside, which disappointed too as it didn’t taste very peanut-butter-y.
We also tried their Orange Peel (excessively sour), S’mores (better, but like See’s Scotchmallow, no graham cracker), and Honeycomb (if you want to try one of their chocolates, this is the one I’d recommend).
Cottage of Sweets, Ocean Ave. btw. Monte Verde & Lincoln. Plus mail order and a limited selection (fudge & licorice) online.
Lula’s Chocolates: The only artisan chocolatier we found in the CA Central Coast area, Lula’s makes their chocolates in Monterey.
We liked the Dark Aloha Rocky Road (artisan marshmallows and Hawaiian, house-roasted macadamias, also available in milk chocolate), although it was a little too sweet for most of our tasters. The California Toffee (caramelized butter, almonds and milk chocolate) is good with lots of nuts, but I’m not much for milk chocolate.
No storefront of their own, on our trip we found Lula’s at Nielsen Bros. Market and Earthbound Farm Produce Stand. Lula’s is available in SFBA. Full list of locations on their website. Online store has more extensive selection than we saw in stores.