Let me save you.
Save you from the gloom of gas station chocolates.
From the doom of being unprepared for Valentine’s Day.
You didn’t forget, did you? The big day is Thursday, by the way.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
Restaurants can be a zoo on and around Valentine’s Day, but dessert spots specializing in take-away sweets are a solid strategy for those wanting to skip the crowds and reservations mayhem (dinner at 4 p.m.? No thank you!).
Because many of these desserts, especially chocolates, are shelf stable, shoppers can pick them up days before the holiday.
Here’s a tour of everything your sweet tooth could desire — hand-dipped truffles, handmade cordials, cupcakes with fluffy buttercream, cake-by-the-slice, gooey pastries, vegan pastries, gluten-free pastries, ice cream and hand-decorated cookies.
If you have time for only one trip, make it Johnson Candy Co. in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. With a broad selection of hand-dipped truffles and other confections made on site alongside a huge selection of pretty boxes, it’s a one-stop shop for everything Valentine’s Day.
HANDMADE CANDY SHOPS
Brown and Haley factory stores
Contact: 110 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-620-3067 or 3500 20th St. E., Fife; 253-620-3030. brown-haley.com
Find: Tacoma’s famous Almond Roca candies in tins, boxes and super packs, decked out in pink, purple and other Valentine’s Day colors. Find sea salt caramel cookies ($3.99), small heart-shaped boxes of Roca ($4.99) or a big tin ($7.99). Also, an assortment of boxed candies from $3.99 to $18.99.
Emily’s Chocolates/AMES International
Contact: 4401 Industry Drive E., Fife; 253-235-4866, emilyschocolates.com (weekdays only)
Find: This Fife candy factory’s outlet store stocks all things chocolate and nuts. Their “love” or “friendship” fortune cookies come dipped in milk or dark chocolate ($5.49 a box). Spice lovers on your list will appreciate their habanero kissed sea salt caramels ($5.99) and the sriracha seasoned almonds ($9.99).
Johnson Candy Co.
Contact: 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-272-8504
Find: This is the bonanza of all things Valentine’s Day. There’s a broad selection of hand-dipped truffles in more than a dozen flavors, hand-dipped dark and milk chocolate brandied cherries, little heart-shaped chocolates, salted dark chocolate covered caramels, candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate and so much more, including a nice selection of sugar-free candies.
Boxes come pre-filled in sizes ranging from a small heart-shaped box for $8.25 to a two-pound (plus) box that’ll cost you around $82. The best part here is how much fun shoppers can have mixing-and-matching chocolates to hand-selected boxes that vary in size and style. Chocolates in the signature white Johnson candy box range from $9.25 for a half pound to $18.50 for a pound, and up.
Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse
Contact: 13608 Valley Ave E., Sumner; 253-863-0422, oldcanneryfurniture.com
Find: Yes, it’s a furniture store, but it’s also got the area’s best selection of handmade fudge. Chocolate fudge flavors cover the gamut with peanut butter, rocky road, dark salted caramel, milk chocolate walnut and peanut butter chocolate frequently available. There’s also raspberry swirl for those after something with a Valentine’s Day look
Another fudge find: Find fudge in pre-sliced packaged pieces at Tacoma Boys locations (tacomaboys.com).
Contact: 610 N. First St., Tacoma; 253-327-1860, teasechocolates.com
Find: This high-end chocolate maker produces visually stunning chocolate masterpieces and is the county’s only chocolate company that makes chocolate from scratch (call it a bean-to-bar company). This year’s selection includes a special gift box filled with two signature chocolate bars, a cupcake-sized peanut butter cup, a pecan sea turtle, vanilla caramels, the company’s Narrows truffle bar, two “Ninja” turtle candies and 10 kinds of truffles ($57, in limited quantities). Favorites, such as the five-ounce boxed caramels with a bow are available ($15) as are a five-piece box of handmade cordials ($15). There’s also boxed truffles, caramels and more.
Bon Sucre Bistro and Bakery (Clover Park)
Contact: 4500 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood, 253-589-6036, http://tacomaculinary.com/bon-sucre-bistro/ (limited hours)
Find: Clover Park Technical College’s student-run bakery is a treasure where pastry gluttons can find oversized cookies, pastries, cakes and a selection of truffles and molded chocolates (on a limited basis). Did I mention it’s a bargain bakery for high-quality goods? Prices are usually $1.25 to $3.
Contact: Inside Paldo World, 9701 South Tacoma Way, 253-682-3488
Find: This French-Korean bakery inside the Lakewood Korean grocery store Paldo World offers everything from handmade individual portion desserts such as tiramisu and mousse cups ($5.99), a broad selection of cake-by-the-slice ($5.99), handmade macarons sold in packages ($6.99) and other packaged cookies ($7.99). Customized cakes filled with whipped cream also available ($25 to $40).
Contact: 720 E. Main St., Puyallup, 253-200-2342, britishbites.net
Find: This downtown Puyallup British grocery store has a small bakery producing the greatest hits of British pastries, ranging from mini Vickie (Victoria) cakes in raspberry or lemon ($3), buttery crisp shortbread cookies ($1.50), eccles cake ($1.85), banoffee tarts ($5.25) plain or sweet scones ($2.75 to $3.25), cherry bakewell tarts ($2.50), knobbies ($1.50), gingersnaps ($1.75) and typically about a half dozen more choices in the bakery case. Gluten-free diners will find cookies and more ($3.50). Be sure to ask about the tea service.
Celebrity Cake Studio
Contact: 314 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-627-4773, celebritycakestudio.com
Find: This bakery in Tacoma’s Dome District is famous for its elaborately decorated party and wedding cakes, but it also has a take-out counter with oversized slices of cake ($6.50), mini decorated cakes ($6.95), tea cakes (three for $6), small ($2.50) or large ($4) hand decorated sugar cookies, mini eclairs ($3), cupcakes ($3 and up) and a broad selection of gluten-free mini desserts ($3 to $4).
Contact: 602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-5070, corinabakery.com
Find: This St. Helens neighborhood bakery bakes a wide range of pastries, cake-by-the-slice, savory nibbles and espresso. Valentine’s Day brings out all kinds of specials, including the bakery’s famous chocolate-dipped strawberries ($2.50), chocolate-covered cherries ($1.50) and something fun — heart-shaped French macarons in a number of flavors ($2.50). There also will be heart-shaped shortbread cookies ($1.25 to $2.50) and a selection of Valentine’s decorated cannolis, cupcakes, cake balls and more ($2.50 to $3.75).
German Pastry Shop
Contact: 6108 Mount Tacoma Drive SW, Lakewood, 253-588-5777
Find: This Lakewood bakery specializes in cake-by-the-slice in dozens of flavors that are available all the time ($4.40), but there’s also fresh pastry that includes cream puffs or cream horns ($3.40), coffee cake ($2.60), filled puff pastry ($2.40) and cookies ($3.50). Cakes can be special ordered ($44 to $61.60).
Contact: 1740 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-383-7772, hello-cupcake.com
Find: This downtown Tacoma cupcake emporium has a broad range of fanciful cupcake choices and switches up the menu frequently. Through Feb. 12, find strawberry cheesecake cupcakes ($3.50) and starting Feb. 13, the specialty cupcake will be pink champagne topped with edible sugar pearls ($3.50). Mini cupcakes also available ($1.75).
La Waffletz and Macaron Station
Contact: 2501 E. D St., Tacoma, 206-489-9770
Find: One of Tacoma’s broadest selection of macarons, the Parisian cookies made from almond flour with a ganache or buttercream center. Find flavors ranging from rose raspberry to cassis and chocolate ganache, lavender, salted caramel, vanilla, chocolate, birthday cake flavored and so much more ($1.75).
Marvel Bay Cafe
Contact: 301 133rd St. S., Tacoma, 253-267-5159, marvelbaycafe.com
Find: Pastries galore are at the front counter of this European-American bakery and cafe with a broader pastry selection at the sister business next door, Marvel Food & Deli. At Marvel Bay Cafe, find everything from Nutella-filled baklava ($1.99) to buttery croissants ($1.29), mini Danish ($1.29), biscotti, cookies and chocolate truffles (99 cents each). Next door at the grocery store, don’t miss the mini cheesecakes ($1.99) and a few shelves of fresh pastries.
Contact: Inside H-Mart, 8720 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253-582-4884
Find: Like Boulangerie, this Lakewood French-Korean bakery inside H-Mart has a broad selection of European pastries. Don’t miss the oversized French macarons or the wide variety of pastries ($2.95 each).
Pasteles Finos del Angel
Contact: 5102 S. Washington St., Tacoma, 253-448-2649, facebook.com/angels.pastry
Find: This Mexican bakery specializes in all kinds of portable, individually portioned desserts such as buttery cookies (45 cents each), flan ($4.50), slices of tres leches cake ($4), churros ($1.50 to $2) and dozens of other desserts. What some might not know is that this bakery has a secondary specialty in vegan pastries ($2.50 and up).
Susanne’s Bakery and Delicatessen
Contact: 3411 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 253-853-6220, susannesbakery.net
Find: This small bakery and cafe in Gig Harbor known for its pastry case has a selection that changes frequently. Don’t miss the decorated cookies if they’re available.
Contact: 2102 E. Main St., Puyallup; 253-256-5566, wannacupcake.com
Find: There’s a wide selection of cupcakes, including gluten-free options, but don’t miss the pastry case with scones, biscotti, muffins, magic cookie bars ($2.75 and up) and cute hand-decorated sugar cookies ($4).
Bliss Small Batch Creamery
Contact: 3556 Market Place W., University Place, 253-327-1061, icecreambliss.com
Find: This University Place scoop shop has all kinds of flavors, ranging from plain to fancy, and a big selection of vegan ice creams. February flavors include sour cherry amaretto, pink bubblegum, toasted coconut, red velvet cake, strawberry rose and more. Take-out pints are $9.10.
Ice Cream Social
Contact: 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, or 5107 Main St., Ruston, 253-327-1660, icecreamsocialtacoma.com
Find: This scoop shop with locations at Point Ruston and on Sixth Avenue will have pints available with special flavors debuting all month. Check out cherry almond, mocha, earl grey and rose. Take-out pints are $7.50.