I’m here to help save you from Valentine’s Day doom.
Such as, the doom of taking a 4:30 p.m. dinner seating because you waited too long to score a decent reservation.
Or the doom of buying gas station candy because you forgot it was Valentine’s Day until 7 p.m. on Feb. 14.
It’s on Wednesday, by the way.
Do this instead: Head to a Tacoma-area candy maker or bakery for something sweet, thoughtful and handmade.
Brown and Haley factory stores
Where: 110 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-620-3067 or 3500 20th St. E., Fife; 253-620-3030. brown-haley.com
Find: Heart-shaped tins filled with the candy company’s signature Almond Roca ($9.99), plus other sizes ($4.99 to $18.99). For bulk gift buying, look to the smaller paper boxes in the shape of a heart, filled with five pieces of Almond Roca ($2).
Emily’s Chocolates/AMES International
Where: 4401 Industry Drive E., Fife; 253-235-4866, emilyschocolates.com
Find: Adorable chocolate-covered fortune cookies, coated in dark or milk chocolate, in pretty pink or red packaging ($4.99 a box).
For the low-carb love of your life, find big containers of roasted cashews and other nuts. Also delicious caramels, chocolate-coated nuts and other treats at terrific discounts.
Johnson Candy Co.
Where: 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-272-8504
Find: Tacoma’s finest Valentine’s emporium. This go-to candy maker in the Hilltop neighborhood has truffles and hand-dipped/hand-made chocolates by the pound ($17.50 a pound, but prices vary. Buy as little or as much as you want).
Bring your own Valentine’s box or buy one there.
This is the best choice to find customized Valentine’s gift boxes that can be filled with the candy of your choice. In a hurry? No problem. They stock repackaged heart-shaped boxes galore ranging from $7.75 to $29.95.
Want to splurge big? Get the $53.25 box with a pretty, shiny red bow. Dozens of choices of Valentine’s boxes in many themes at every price range.
Also: Sugar-free candy, honeycomb, butter mints, chocolate-covered nut clusters, sea salt/dark chocolate-coated caramel and all kind of other candies for kids or adults.
Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse
Where: 13608 Valley Ave E., Sumner; 253-863-0422, oldcanneryfurniture.com
Find: In the middle of the giant furniture warehouse is a surprising find: A fudge counter. More than 20 flavors are handmade by candy maker Linda White. Dark chocolate/raspberry truffle is my favorite pick (the stock changes often). There’s also maple nut, rocky road, dark salted caramel, milk chocolate with walnuts, peanut butter chocolate and pumpkin cheesecake. Buy as little or as much as you want. It’s priced $14.98 a pound. Samples are plentiful.
Another fudge find: Find fudge in pre-sliced pieces at Tacoma Boys locations (tacomaboys.com).
Where: 610 N. First St., Tacoma; 253-327-1860, teasechocolates.com
Find: This high-end chocolate company from artisan chocolate makers Julie and Topher Farrell is the only one of its kind in the area. The Farrells turn beans into bars in their Stadium neighborhood kitchen and retail shop. Find a wide selection of handmade chocolates and candies with fanciful flavors, such as the Dark and Stormy cocktail-themed chocolate filled with ginger-rum ganache. The quarter-pound peanut butter cups encased in chocolate are built for the holiday ($4). I covet the chocolates infused with tea from Tacoma’s Mad Hat Tea Co.
Celebrity Cake Studio
Where: 314 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-627-4773, celebritycakestudio.com
Find: This Dome district bakery from cake wizard Odette D’Aniello is an all-purpose cake destination selling everything from elaborate, custom wedding cakes to cake-by-the-slice ($6.95) and pretty mini cakes for takeout ($6.95). Also find hand-decorated cookies ($2.50 to $4), delicate tea cakes dipped in chocolate and decorated with cute endearments ($2).
Where: 602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-5070, corinabakery.com
Find: This bakery right next door to the Grand Cinema is known for its pastries and coffee, plus cake-by-the-slice. For Valentine’s, owner Molly Ott and her pastry crew decorate shortbread with strawberry glaze ($2.25), dip strawberries in chocolate ($2.50) and make mini heart-shaped cheesecakes for two ($7).
Dolce Si Sicilian Bakery and Cafe
Where: 5005 Main St., Tacoma; 253-292-0172, dolcesi.com
Find: Sicilian baker Elisabetta O’Shea has both take-out and special order options at her Point Ruston bakery. Right now, she has heart-shaped pastries or mini cakes filled with flavored creams ($4.75-$4.85 for pastries). Her signature strasburgo cookies are heart-shaped treats dipped in red chocolate and coated in sprinkles this week ($1.85-$2.50 for cookies). She’s also got heart-shaped linzer cookies, plus a long list of special gelato flavors. My pick: Whisky-and-cinnamon swirl gelato. She calls that one “Flirt.”
La Waffletz and Macaron Station
Find: More than a few dozen flavors of the delicate Parisian cookie, the macaron. Those delicious cookies are made from almond flour and egg whites at this Freighthouse Square cookie and waffle counter run by husband-wife team Roger Martinho and Mirtha Sanchez. For Valentine’s Day, you’ll luck out if you see the pretty, rose-raspberry macarons, festooned with a dried rose leaf, in the case. Other flavors range from hazelnut to cinnamon and mango to bubblegum. Priced $1.75 each.