Looking for sweet treats? Stop by one of these local artisanal chocolatiers, bakeries and other purveyors of locally made goodies.
Let’s start this sugary tour off on Sweet Street, a stretch of locally owned and operated shops along Bannock Street in Downtown Boise.
The Chocolat Bar
805 W. Bannock St., Boise
Remember the romantic movie “Chocolat” about a chocolatier in a small French village?
Well, The Chocolat Bar is not in a French village (Boise is a derivation of a French name, though), but this artisanal chocolatier on Sweet Street is a haven for chocoholics who file into the shop for handcrafted truffles, barks, turtles, clusters, dipped fruits and other chocolaty treats.
Owners Chris Preston and Kristi Echols-Preston show their romantic side by offering ornately designed chocolate high-heel shoes, solid chocolate hearts and assorted Valentine’s Day gift boxes.
Spoil your sweetheart with a white chocolate high-heel shoe adorned with colorful tulips.
The Chocolat Bar also celebrates the holiday with specialties such as champagne truffles, port truffles and aromatic pistachio-rose bark made with white and milk chocolates.
You can order these items online or stop by the shop, but keep in mind that placing orders in advance is well-advised considering this is one of the busiest times of the year for chocolatiers.
“Each shoe takes me at least an hour to make, so it’s a good idea to call ahead on those, but we usually have enough chocolate hearts and other stuff on hand,” Echols-Preston explains.
City Peanut Shop
803 W. Bannock St., Boise
It will be business as usual on Valentine’s Day at this old-time peanut shop — next to The Chocolat Bar — which has been wildly popular since it opened in 2009.
Owner Dan Balluff goes above and beyond with his selection of small-batch, handcrafted nuts. Here you can score assorted roasted and candied nuts, crunchy nut brittles and yummy caramel corn. The shop also puts out a line of Brewers Series nuts made with craft beers from Payette Brewing Co.
City Peanut Shop offers decorative gift tins that are perfect for Valentine’s Day. You can order gift packages online or swing by the shop.
A Cupcake Paradise
813 W. Bannock St., Boise
This cupcakery can be found a few doors down from The Chocolat Bar and City Peanut Shop.
The bakery turns out a gamut of freshly baked cupcakes that get piped with rich buttercream frosting, in addition to big brownies, cinnamon rolls and cookies. On Valentine’s Day, expect to find flavors such as strawberry-champagne, chocolate-salted caramel, red velvet, super-chocolaty black forest and more.
Make sure to call ahead for large orders.
Here are some other spots around town to get sweet indulgences for a loved one. Artisan-made doughnuts? No problem. Romantic French baked goodies? Got you covered there, too. And you can never have enough cupcakes on Valentine’s Day.
928 W. Main St., Boise
Guru Donuts has stepped up its game since moving into the historic Idanha building last year. The popular and quirky shop, with a motto that exclaims “We Make Donuts Holey,” follows the seasons and holidays closely with a variety of inventive yeast-raised doughnuts, cream-filled bismarcks and old-fashioned cake doughnuts.
The shop doesn’t plan to get too gushy this Valentine’s Day, but co-owner Angel Moran and her crew certainly have a few romantic ideas up their sleeves.
“Valentine’s Day is definitely a huge day for us. We will have a few pink-hued doughnuts to keep everyone happy,” she says.
How does a Berry White doughnut sound? This white chocolate-glazed raised doughnut with a bright berry drizzle is a soft-pink shout-out to the sexy soul singer Barry White.
“His songs are so romantic. We just figured it would be an appropriate doughnut,” Moran says.
Other doughnuts for Valentine’s Day, which are also available throughout February, include a vegan raised doughnut with a local strawberry glaze and a raised doughnut with a fragrant raspberry and lavender glaze.
The shop will also be showing its cynical side with the Gold Digger, an old-fashioned cake doughnut with a Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps glaze flecked with little gold flakes. “It does have a blush hue to it,” Moran quips.
1754 W. State St., Boise
This big-city-style patisserie has been a hit since it debuted in Boise’s North End in 2013.
Owner Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas, who grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, and went to the Estella Kitat Oman baking school there, has grabbed the attention of the James Beard Foundation in recent years for her aptitude in the kitchen and impeccably polished operation. She was a 2015 semi-finalist in the Outstanding Baker category.
The bakery is not doing anything out of the ordinary for Valentine’s Day, but it always has a plethora of freshly baked goods. Stop by and pick up some delectable patisserie items (croissants and such), chocolate éclairs, puffy macaroons, little petit four cakes and French-inspired sable cookies.
217 S. Roosevelt St., Boise
Pastry chef and co-owner Aimee Wyatt has earned a stellar reputation for her delicious gluten-free and vegan specialty cakes and cupcakes, which she produces in a separate kitchen away from her other kitchen that contains wheat-based flours. Now, that’s going the extra mile to prevent cross-contamination. And her loyal, gluten-free customers have rewarded her by keeping her busy year after year.
Amaru Confections focuses on custom-made cakes for special occasions (weddings, birthdays, corporate events and such), but you can purchase cupcakes without a pre-arrangement at the small bake shop in the Boise Bench neighborhood. Don’t be surprised to find plenty of Valentine’s Day-themed cupcakes displayed in a glass case right inside the front door.
3651 W. Overland Road, Boise
Gaston’s Bakery has come up with some special sweet treats for Valentine’s Day. Owner Mathieu Choux and his bakers are making ganache-covered chocolate cake (offered whole or by the slice) and palmier cookies.
“The palmiers are a nice, flat cookie that are folded into the shape of a heart,” Choux says.
These traditional French-style cookies will melt in your mouth with buttery goodness thanks to layer upon layer of flaky puff pastry dough. The bakery is making a sugar-sprinkled palmier cookie and one that’s partially covered in dark chocolate.
“We’ll have them ... probably through the end of February,” he says.
You can find Gaston’s goods at coffee shops and specialty stores around the Valley, but the palmier cookies and chocolate cake only are available at Gaston’s Bakery retail shop on Overland Road in Boise.
Besides these sweet offerings, folks can always get flaky patisserie goodies such as croissants (chocolate, Nutella, cherry and almond), raspberry Danish, apricot squares and tasty apple bear claws.
304 E. 42nd St., Garden City
Wildflour Bakery started out with humble roots back in the early ’90s in Boise’s North End. At first, the bakery primarily sold wholesale cookies and other baked goods at the Boise Co-op and to coffeehouses around town. But all that changed about a year ago when owner and head baker Mary Cogswell went all in by opening a retail shop near bustling Chinden Boulevard.
The attractive, modern-looking bake shop and coffeehouse keeps its display cases packed with freshly baked, small-batch cookies, scones, muffins, baked doughnuts (apple, pumpkin and cinnamon-sugar) and more. Cookie flavors include salted chocolate chip, butterscotch chocolate chip, chocolate-chocolate, gingerbread, snickerdoodles and hearty oatmeal-studded cookies. The chunky oatmeal cookies pocked with cranberries and walnuts are especially yummy.
Wildflour Bakery also puts out apple coffee cake, flourless chocolate cake and lemon-glazed cake.
For Valentine’s Day, the bakery will be making some special sugar cookies and other baked items with sweethearts in mind.
If you can’t make it to the shop, the bak ery delivers its products daily to both Boise Co-op locations, Whole Foods Market and the WinCo on Myrtle Street in Boise.
Lilly Jane’s Cupcakes
664 S. Rivershore Lane, Eagle
This popular bakery near Bella Aquila just off Eagle Road was well ahead of the cupcake curve. It started selling moist cupcakes swirled high with buttercream frosting long before there were cable TV shows such as Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
Everyday flavors include Super Chocolate, Plain Janes (vanilla with vanilla frosting), Black and White (chocolate with vanilla frosting and vice versa) and Caramel Apple. Popular Valentine’s Day flavors are Red Hot Velvet (oh yeah, baby), Lilly’s Lemon, Cherry Jubilee and Huckleberry Hound, a chocolate cupcake topped with huckleberry cream cheese frosting.
You can also get freshly baked Lilly Jane’s Cupcakes at the Fred Meyer store at the corner of Chinden Boulevard and Linder Road in Meridian.
Dream Chocolate doesn’t operate a retail business. Instead, the Boise-based chocolate company wholesales its socially conscious dark chocolate bars and other artisanal chocolate products, which are sold at stores around the Treasure Valley. The Boise Co-op and Whole Foods Market carry a good selection of Dream Chocolate products.
Grab a big bar of dark chocolate (made with 70 percent cocoa) for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate bar flavors from the Artisan Collection include cranberry-orange, banana-raspberry, caramel-pecan with sea salt and dark chocolate with cocoa beans, to name a few.
Sugar Rush Cupcakery
10804 W. Fairview Ave.
If you want to impress your valentine with an exotic cupcake like no other, Sugar Rush has you covered.
The West Boise specialty shop offers more than 45 cupcake flavors, with a few romantic specials for the big day, including strawberry champagne and Love on the Beach. There will be full cakes available, as well, if you want to share the love.
(And if you’ve never tried a tomato soup cupcake, this is the place to do it!) Call in your Valentine’s Day order ahead of time to make sure you get the perfect flavor.
Check out these classic shops, too
840 S. Vista Ave., Boise
The local favorite has been putting out handcrafted chocolates since 1947. Located in the Vista Village shopping center, the shop displays an extensive selection of freshly made truffles, chocolate-dipped fruits, turtles, fudge, caramels and just about everything else in the sweet department. Lee’s Candies also has gift boxes and plenty of Valentine’s Day-wrapped milk chocolates.
1502 N. 13th St., Boise
Treat your honey to a big banana split on Valentine’s Day at the old-timey soda fountain and candy shop in the heart of Hyde Park. A super-creamy chocolate milkshake should do the trick as well. Besides ice cream treats, the longtime purveyor of all things sweet also stocks a large array of handcrafted chocolates and assorted candies. Gift boxes are available.
Idaho Candy Company
Visit idahospud.com for a list of retailers and online shopping. You can also visit the candy company’s retail shop at 412 S. 8th St. in Downtown Boise.
Candy products from this company date back to the early 20th century. Those ubiquitous Idaho Spud Bars were first made in 1901. Now that’s tradition. Idaho Candy Company products can be found just about everywhere you look around here. Stop by a local store and pick up some Cherry Cocktail clusters, Huckleberry Gems and Old Faithful chocolate-peanut cluster bars.
5855 N. Glenwood St., Garden City
The full-service bakery has been a popular fixture near the Expo Idaho fairgrounds since 1983. Here you can score a plethora of freshly baked goods, including cookies, doughnuts, sweet Danishes, cinnamon rolls, dessert breads and cakes galore. For Valentine’s Day, expect to see lots of pink-frosted sugar cookies, sweetheart cakes and more.
Cravin’s Candy Emporium
3064 S. Bown Way, Boise
It doesn’t matter your age, this old-school candy shop, formerly Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, in Bown Crossing will literally have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. Expect to find a profusion of nostalgic candy, artisan chocolates (truffles, barks and clusters), creamy gelato and retro bottled sodas. Cravin’s also has a Valentine’s Day section set up for sweethearts.
3693 E. Longwing Lane, Meridian
This colorful store at The Village at Meridian is known for its vast selection of oversized candy, novelty candy and assorted gift boxes. Need a 2-pound red gummy bear or a 5-pound Hershey’s Chocolate bar? It’Sugar has it all. Or you can get risqué (ooh la la) with an edible candy G-string and other adult-themed candy products.
James Patrick Kelly, the Idaho Statesman’s restaurant critic, is the author of the travel guidebook “Moon Idaho.”