Every time I grocery shop here in Tofino, the “High Seas Dark Chocolate Bar” beckons. I can’t resist it. While I stand in line gazing over the latest Hollywood headlines I am compelled to reach for one. More times than not, it ends up through the checkout and into my French-style shopping basket.
The bar never lasts long. I try to savour just one square of the semi-sweet and salty dark chocolate with a mug of chocolate-mint tea. But no. I can’t. It’s seductively addicting. The bar lasts at most two cups of tea.
But. I know where to get more. I also know where they make these delectable bars!
Inside Chocolate Tofino
A mixture of sweet tantalizing aromas engulf me while I stand inside Chocolate Tofino‘s tiny entrance. Chocolatiers busily prepare their latest artisan chocolate creations. One asks me if I’d like to try some gelato and hands me a little wooden spoon of the Lavender Honey.
It’s neat to see production in process right from the counter. A wheel of warm velvety dark chocolate spins at the back propelling a never ending stream of smooth chocolate goodness.
It’s mesmerizing to watch. The machine makes my mother’s old Mixmaster seem insignificant in comparison. I was always there to lick the beaters or the bowl after she poured the batter into a pan. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for staff not to run a finger under the chocolate stream every time they walk by.
Preparing the Chocolate
At night, the wheel is shut off and the temperature turned up. In the morning, the temperature is lowered to begin the important two-hour tempering process. Tempering gives chocolates an attractive satin finish and a hard snap when you bite into them. It also allows for the chocolate to dry quickly, contract, and easily drop out of the moulds.
Top Notch Ingredients
Everything inside Chocolate Tofino is made in-house. The chocolate is sourced through Direct Trade, meaning that Chocolate Tofino deals directly with chocolate producers. Their chocolate is organic and crafted from distinctly fine-flavoured Cacao, mostly from Colombia. All of their chocolate is gluten-free. There are also dairy-free and vegan choices.
Kim and Cam, the owners of Chocolate Tofino, source out only the highest-quality ingredients to make their products, much of which is organic and local. Their products do not contain any artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives.
Hand-Crafted Artisan Chocolates
I was excited to see first-hand how Chocolate Tofino’s chocolates are made!
First, chocolate is poured into a mould.
Then the mould is placed onto a vibrating table to evenly flood it and get rid of any bubbles.
All of the excess chocolate is scraped back into the vat.
Decorative drizzled chocolate is prepared in moulds too and then flooded with lighter-coloured chocolate.
After the chocolate has dried inside the moulds caramel ganache, or filling, is individually piped into the cavities. The trays are again flooded with chocolate and scraped to form the bottoms.
Ta-da! You are left with beautiful delicious chocolates! If you’re out of town and want to order these delights, check out Chocolate Tofino’s online store.
Another delicious chocolaty item that Chocolate Tofino makes is almond bark. A light simple syrup is applied to the almonds as they are being toasted to give them a subtle sweet taste and shine.
I’ll never get enough of seeing the warm smooth chocolate mix in with the candied nuts!
All of Chocolate Tofino’s gelato is made in-house with whole ingredients and blended with natural flavours.
Don’t worry. If you have trouble deciding between Salted Caramel, Hedgehog, Lavender Honey or any of the other enticing flavours, the chocolatiers are happy to provide samples of any that you’re curious about.
Next is deciding whether to have your gelato in a cup or a chocolate-dipped waffle cone.
Eat Gelato Anytime of Day
There are two sides to Chocolate Tofino: During summer months, The Original Chocolate Tofino is open between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm and Chocolate Tofino Express is open between 12:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Hours of operation will change in September.
Either way, you can visit Chocolate Tofino to satisfy your sweet tooth craving most hours of the day. Plus if you’re tempted to have a cold midnight snack you can even buy a half or full pint of your favourite gelato flavour!
The chocolate bars that I love so much, and which support ocean conservation through Sea Shepherd, are a big hit. They are created in the same way that the chocolates are except they are solid and styled to look like logs. The moulds are ordered from a Belgian manufacturer.
Their top artisan chocolate sellers are Blackberry Buttercream, made with Clayoquot Sound blackberries, and Wildflower Honey Ganache. Salted Caramels are always a favourite too.
Gelato top picks are Salted Caramel, Hedge Hog, and Stracciatella.
About Chocolate Tofino
Chocolate Tofino was originally started by Gord and Leah Austin in 2003 when it was known as The Chocolate Shop. Gord was the pastry chef at the Wickininnish Inn and loved chocolate.
Cam and Kim Shaw bought the shop in 2010. They were looking for a change and wanted to do something for a living that they could grow old doing together. They expanded the selection of flavours and continue to adapt.
Chocolate Tofino is open year-round, seven days a week to satisfy your sweet tooth craving. Find them at 1180A Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino, BC in the Live To Surf shopping mall. Visit their website or contact them at (250) 725-2526.