If you were the kind of person who planned ahead, you already would have found a recipe, borrowed the molds and purchased the ingredients to make a magical batch of chocolate truffles for mom’s special day this weekend.But you’re just like the rest of us. Off to the store you go for chocolate. Before you settle for a drugstore buy, consider this: South Sound is home to three chocolate makers who specialize in truffles – decadent chocolates made with a creamy ganache center. Two chocolate shops are cafes with a truffle side business; the third is one of the oldest candy companies in Tacoma. All three will sell truffles for Mother’s Day, but you best not delay your purchase because supplies are limited.
The French Hen BistroWhere: 3810 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W., Lakewood; 253-983-1313, frenchhenbistro.com; serving lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, serving dinner 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, closed Sundays
French Hen’s truffles make quite an impression because they’re just so lovely. Several varieties come with pretty patterns painted right onto the chocolates. They’re on the big side for bite-size candies. Stay for lunch at this adorable cafe.Varieties: More than 20, though daily stock is limited to a smaller selection. My favorite is the chai, a milk chocolate truffle painted with a pretty pink flower and a creamy center scented with coconut milk and a heady whiff of cardamom. If it’s in stock, get the port wine truffle. I also like the unexpected flavors: lemongrass, ginger, banana and salted dark. You’ll find traditional favorites, too: lemon, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, raspberry, cherry and mint.By the box: Truffles are $1.40 each, with pre-set box sizes up to 16 pieces. A six-pack ($8) comes in a see-through box tied with a ribbon color of your choice.
Affairs Cafe and ChocolatesWhere: 2811 Bridgeport Way W., University Place; 253-565-8604, affairs-chocolate.com; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays, closed MondaysWhen you bite into an Affairs truffle, you have to be committed to the idea of a truffle. The impressive size requires it. Slightly larger than a golf ball, the truffles are among the biggest I’ve seen. They also are the most expensive of the truffles sampled for this report at $4.50 each. But if you want to make an impression on mom, this is the truffle to buy. Affairs is a lovely cafe with an impressive breakfast menu.Varieties: More than 20. My favorites sampled were: a milk chocolate truffle with a buttery rum flavor, a white chocolate-filled hazelnut praline truffle, a citrusy dark chocolate flavored with Grand Marnier liqueur; and a coffee-tinged dark chocolate truffle flavored with Kahlua liqueur and espresso. Many flavors are liqueur based, but there are traditional favorites such as double chocolate, mocha and almond.By the box: Single, boxed truffles are $4.50. You can also purchase a box of four for $17.50 (including tax) in an elegant gold box tied with a ribbon (you pick the color).
Johnson Candy Co.Where: 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-272-8504; 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m- 4 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays
Johnson Candy Co. long has been a fixture in the Tacoma Hilltop neighborhood. The Johnson family business began more than 80 years ago as a lunch counter and evolved into a candy company at its current location, which opened in 1949. Listen closely and you can hear the chocolate machines squeaking away upstairs in the building with the signature vintage sign still hanging outside. Chocolate truffles are bite-size squares.Varieties: Straightforward truffle flavors: chocolate, raspberry, almond, mint, rum, mocha, peanut butter and strawberry. You’ll find a large selection of hand-made chocolates, too.By the box: Truffles are bargain priced at $14.95 a pound (with about 40 truffles per pound). You can select how much or little to give, from small boxes, up to a pound. They’ll gift wrap the box for you, too.Our pledge to readers: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals.