Keeping it Sweet
March – April 2015
Nevada’s chocolatiers and candy makers create a veritable candy land.
A few words to describe chocolate that I used in the course of one interview include evocative, compelling, rewarding, complex, engaging, decisive…and of course, incredible. Our complex relationship with candy—chocolate in particular—can’t be easily understood, but thankfully, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. As we shake off the dust of winter, what better season (or reason) to treat yourself than spring? But before you indulge in a run-of-the-mill confection, consider one of the plethora of Nevada chocolatiers. These craftsmen create decadent nuggets of sweet desire that can’t be found on a chain-store shelf. With ingenuity, creativity, and passion, clever chefs craft the perfect treat. So try one of these local shops, whether for the holidays, special occasions, or just because you know you deserve it.
Sweet Southern Nevada
One bite, and you’ll know how Whoa! Toffee got its name. The Las Vegas-based company began as many do—with a homemade recipe that had friends and family clamoring for more. Suni Chabrow’s family had been making toffee for 25 years, sending it to friends for the holidays. When Suni’s son, Douglas J. Green, was sent to Afghanistan with the Army, Suni would send care packages to him and the troops. Sadly, Douglas was killed in action. Her son’s death left Suni looking for a way to get involved and give something back, and toffee was the unusual and perfect avenue.
Suni and co-owner Julie Ann Littmann started Whoa! Toffee in 2012. Julie helped convince Suni her toffee would be loved by the public, and she was right. The company now sells about 12,000 pounds of candy a year through its website and retail locations. Today, Suni concentrates her efforts on running her foundation—the Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation, which receives a portion of every Whoa! Foods purchase—while Julie focuses on Whoa! Foods. Non-profit and profit come together to support each other as seamlessly as the crispy toffee supports the sweet layers of chocolate and butterscotch. Other flavors include coffee, S’mores, pretzel, cookies & cream, and peanut butter, so it’s easy to satisfy your sweet tooth and support our troops, in one purchase.
FAZACKERLEY’S FUDGE & CANDY EMPORIUM
Sharen Fazackerley and her husband James embarked on their sweet endeavor in 1987, when the couple lived in Canada. What started as a hobby became a family tradition that turned into a business making fudge, and eventually other sweets. The family moved the business to Nevada in 1997. Today, their kids—daughter Corrina and husband Douglas Swenson; son Rodney and his wife Charmayne Fazackerley—run the business, along with Sharen. The small, family run company still specializes in fudge, plus apples dipped in homemade caramel and hard red candy. The Fazackerleys make their candy at the fairs and festivals they travel to each year, all of it by hand. You can buy their delicious nut rolls, candy and caramel apples, and fudge in such flavors as black forest, chocolate orange, caramel, chocolate peanut butter, dark chocolate, and more at fairs (see below), or online.
Northern Nevada Treats
CHOCOLATE NUGGET CANDY FACTORY
Known for the giant prospector statue that guards this longtime favorite in northern Nevada, the Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory was started in Washoe Valley—between Reno and Carson City—by Dan and Caroline Saltzwimmer in 1983. Along with son Danny, the Saltzwimmers hand make more than 100 varieties of chocolate, along with many other confections including the peanut brittle Danny’s grandfather Frank started making during the Depression to generate extra money. The family makes most of its treats at its second location in nearby Mound House, which opened in 1989. A sweet stop during any roadtrip, the two shops carry taffy, brittles, fudge, chocolates, caramel corn, and small gifts. You can also custom order sweets for special occasions, and can order online.
DANIELLE’S CHOCOLATES AND POPCORN
For generations, Joyce Lee’s family has been candy makers. Carrying on that tradition, Joyce and her husband Calvin brought their business to southern Nevada in 1987, eventually establishing their shop in Mesquite in 2004. Still family run, Danielle’s serves up delectable handmade creams, truffles, nuts, chews, caramel-and-nut tortoises, in addition to their best-selling snowy popcorn—flavored popcorn with a white chocolate coating. Along with their store in Mesquite or online, you can find their treats at various Nothing Bundt Cakes and Sam’s Club locations.
SIERRA NEVADA CHOCOLATE COMPANY
What do you get when you cross an ex-cop, history buff, and a candy lover? You get Tammy Borde, owner of Reno’s Sierra Nevada Chocolate. Tammy’s family goes back in Nevada for almost five generations, and when she acquired the Sierra Nevada Chocolate Company, her mother was already making chocolates for her other business—The Chocolate Walrus. Whether by serendipity or sheer force of will, Tammy dove into the world of chocolate, and her knowledge and passion about chocolate is as full as her dazzling store cases. From glitter-enrobed truffles, to more than 38 varieties of chocolate bark, her quaint shop will insinuate itself into your culinary sweet tooth. Her chocolatier can create almost any design; if you doubt that, consider there are more than 14,000 molds in the kitchen. They do about half their business through wholesale sales, and the other through retail. The shop caters to educating customers about chocolate, even offering tastings of various blends of cacao. From everything being hand-rolled and homemade, and the choice to use a cream base in their truffles, Sierra Nevada Chocolate prides itself on offering the finest chocolates around.