Here, in the Pacific Northwest, there is a vibrant chocolate culture that, while not as well known as the city’s contribution to coffee drinking, is no less enthusiastic with a list of chocolatiers worthy of any important regional producer. By way of endorsement, Fran‘s salted caramels are reportedly President Obama’s favorite chocolate. Of the local companies, I’d wager that Theo’s has gotten the lion’s share of recognition.
Known mostly closer to home and sold at quality Seattle-area supermarkets, including Whole Foods and PCC Natural Markets, Moonstruck Chocolate Company, based in Portland, Oregon, produces a range of truffles and chocolate ganaches that are hand-crafted in limited quantities. All are of excellent quality. What captured the imagination of fans are what the company calls critters, ganaches that have been whimsically shaped into bite-sized animals, then individually hand-dipped in chocolate and decorated with facial and other features. The seasonal critters are quite popular and, despite being priced at just south of $4 a piece, sell well enough to return annually during holidays and other seasonal observances. This includes Valentine’s Day when the love bug critters make their appearance, both in raspberry and strawberry ganache flavors. They make cute gifts that also happen to appeal to chocolate lovers, to which my wife attests. She received both bugs from yours truly for Valentine’s Day.