The Best Gators are Chocolate Gators!

“Nine out of ten people like chocolate.

The tenth person always lies.” – John Q. Tullius

 

Dark or milk chocolate gator anyone? The Chocolate Canopy has plenty of both!

One of my favorite foodie-centric things to discuss with like-minded friends are what we believe will be the “next big thing’ in popular foodie culture. Fads and favorites have been all over the place, from bacon to fancy salt (or call it “sel’ in French with upturned nose) to Southwestern food to cupcakes. Recently food truck ‘food’ has taken the top spot as the foodie fad of the year circa 2013. Yes, you can also throw the word ‘artisanal’ in with the name of any dish and it’s a sure-fire hit.

Maybe it’s my Southern upbringing or just plain common sense, but I prefer quality to the flash in the pan style of most food fads. So my best guesses at what will be appearing on the plates of trendsetting foodies next usually fall short… I’m banking on locally grown preserved foods like spicy pickled watermelon rind or smoky heirloom tomato ketchup, not sumac-infused roasted kale broth with truffle oil or some such nonsense.

Believe it or not, these lovely seashells are actually made out of delicious artisan chocolate. Makes a wonderful Hilton Head-themed party favor!

Like the tides that rise and fall in our own Calibogue Sound, chocolate is one food (in my house it is it’s own food group!) that has seen it’s hip factor fluctuate on occasion, but be assured the popularity of quality, gourmet chocolate never wanes. Here on Hilton Head Island, The Chocolate Canopy is the place to go for the absolute best chocolate treats. Hand-made on premise, the beautiful and delicious creations of Kristoffer and Starr Hamby will surely satisfy every chocoholic craving on the Island.

The Chocolate Canopy was opened in 1982 by Ray and Alfreda Degheri, who retired in 2012 after selling the store and handing over their prized recipes to the Hamby’s. Starr and Kristoffer take great care to preserve the fine quality of the candies, caramels, truffles, nougat and all-manner of fantastic chocolate delights that patrons expect at the Chocolate Canopy over the past 30 years.

Tempering the chocolate is an integral part of creating creamy, smooth treats. The Chocolate Canopy makes everything fresh in-house so if you’re a budding chocolatier just talk to Kristoffer!

Kristoffer, who handles most of the candy making, spent many years in the food and beverage industry, both in the kitchen and on the supplier side. “Making fine chocolates takes some skill but mostly it calls for patience and a lot of attention to detail,” Kristoffer told me, as some fabulous-smelling Merckens chocolate began the tempering process in the Chocolate Canopy kitchen.

Trained by the Degheris’ before taking over the store’s reigns and having had this previous F&B experience was important in keeping the integrity of the store’s products. Starr added, “We keep a tight inventory and since our products turn over quickly, every piece we sell is always fresh.” They also utilize local and regional ingredients whenever they can, like the locally harvested pecans in their pecan pralines, for instance.

The Chocolate Canopy has a strong special order business both selling private label items for local and regional businesses as well as producing custom orders for family reunions, corporate events, weddings and the like. “We can fill pretty much any custom order within a week, but more time is always helpful especially if it’s a unique design or a large order.

These ‘baby turtles’ are not endangered but still pretty darn cute!

But we’ve done orders in one day too – we’ll try our best to accommodate our customer’s needs,” she added. The variety they offer is stunning, making the choice of fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, chocolate seashells or maybe some caramel and chocolate turtles, always a difficult, but tasty decision. Hey, somebody has to do these ‘tough’ jobs!

Probably the best known molded chocolate they offer is their alligators, which range in size from tiny to, well, rather large. In Hilton Head Island, the ubiquitous alligator is all ‘round from golf course lagoons (real ones!) to Charles Fraser’s “walking the alligator’ statue in Compass Rose park. Surely a chocolate ‘gator from the Chocolate Canopy must be absolutely the finest kind – and they taste a heck of a lot better too – trust me, this foodie knows!

The Chocolate Canopy is located at 6 Bow Circle on Hilton Head Island. They are open Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 5:30 pm and Saturday from 1 pm – 5 pm. Need more directions, have questions or want to place a special order? Call 843- 842-4567 or email Starr: chocolatecanopy@gmail.com.

Love fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries? You’re in luck because so do the Hamby’s! You can special order them just about any time of year too.