Thursday, March 20, 2008

QUICKVIEW: Jennifer's Chocolates- +++ / $$

If there is one thing of which Rhode Island could likely never have enough, it's chocolate. And boy howdy, do we have a lot of chocolate. We have the multi-generation/location institution that is Sweenor's, Sweet Twist, Garrison Confections, Ocean State Chocolates, and Hauser rounding out the southern part of the state. Phew! I'm getting fatter just listing them.

We also have an itty-bitty one person operation chugging away down in Wakefield called Jennifer's Chocolates run by, I assume, Jennifer. A quaint, well-appointed retail area gives you full few of the magical workings and the selection. Everything is decorated with care, and the inside is clean with a few tables sitting by the window so you can enjoy your chocolates immediately, if you're actually that desperate.

You have two, primary areas with goodies lined up. Jennifer produces a wide array of things aside from just the chocolate. She has some delicious-looking baked goods, chocolate covered things, biscotti, and cookies. Next to those is a remarkably colorful array of candies. Nothing incredible, but everything looked good enough and makes a decent addition to the overall offerings. I mean, what kind of candy shop would it be without Swedish Fish? She also acts as a sort of mini-cafe, making cappuccino, latte, and coffee. This whole direction seemed a bit half-baked. The machine wasn't commercial-grade and the latte I got wasn't all that good.

Chocolate is the star and her selection is good. Everything is hand-made, I know because I saw the hands making it, and looks good. She sources good chocolate, from Callebaut and Merckens. Merckens is cool because it's local, but I prefer Guittard for commercial-scale chocolate blocks. And if she really wants to wow some people with dark, open up a can of Michel Cluizel Noir Infini on their ass. All-in-all, I can't really criticize her choices of chocolate, since it's how refined her skills are that really make the product, and she does not fail.

I was impressed with her variety. Nothing to blow my mind, but she nails all the requisites. A variety of caramels are gooey, rich, and well-cooked. She's good at tempering the chocolate, which is very hard, so we can at least rest-assured we're not dealing with some amateur. A variety of simple, yet delicious recipes gives JenChoc a real reason for existing. I especially liked the delectable almond toffee chocolates, where the toffee was light, crisp, and easy to chew. Jennifer's Chocolates is reasonably priced. A pound of chocolate hovers around the $20 mark, which is competitive.

Jennifer's Chocolates does a good job of serving up tasty treats to the local area. She has nothing to make herself world-class, but that doesn't stop what she does have from tasting very good. I liked her selection of well-made baked goods, her espresso adds a semi-compelling reason to go, even if it's not that good, and her candy selection will more than satisfy. Sweenor's may be nearby, but that wouldn't prevent me from making an extra stop for some of her recipes that really can't be found elsewhere. The chocolate market in Rhode Island is getting a bit crowded, but I think Jennifer has the chops to remain.

Jennifer's Chocolates: +++
Price range: ~$20 for a pound, which is good, so $$ seems right.

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254 Robinson St
Wakefield, RI 02879

UNKNOWN... I'm checking on that.


Anonymous said...

Her chocholates suck! They are overpriced chucks of flavorless beeswax! Go to Sweenor's instead and you won't be disappointed.

Aaron MC said...

Hi anonymous,

Ohhh. I loves me the Sweenor's. But I also found Jennifer's to be pretty good. I agree that they were a bit on the expensive side, and I don't consider her a must-stop for chocolate lovers in RI, but I think calling her bad is a bit of an overstatement.