A Taste of Marblehead: Creative confections at Stowaway Sweets

 I’ve driven by Stowaway Sweets enough times now on my way into Marblehead that when tasked with coming up with an idea for this week’s edition of “Taste of Marblehead” I sprang at the opportunity to dive into the world of dessert. Entering Stowaway is like stepping into a homier version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, even upon entering the gate I felt as though I was transported into a different world. For this exercise, I selected a half-pound box to fill with different delectable creations from nearly every row of chocolate inside the store, which left me with 14 pieces of chocolate to sample. I sampled: a milk chocolate meltaway (said to be Stowaway’s specialty), a dark chocolate meltaway, a white chocolate peppermint truffle, a wicked dark, a dark chocolate caramel ball, a milk chocolate salted caramel, a dark chocolate praline, a milk chocolate goldie, a dark chocolate almond turtle, a milk chocolate peanut butter ball, a dark chocolate peanut cluster, a figaro dark chocolate and hazelnut, a maple bourbon pecan meltaway, and a milk chocolate french mint fudge truffle. In all, a beautifully wrapped box of 14 chocolate truffles (a half-pound box worth) ran me $30.

I began my tasting journey with the dark chocolate peanut cluster, which I got two of in my box. The chocolate was thick and firm, but then quickly melted in my mouth and while the flavor of the peanuts got lost (I thought they were almonds until I went back to consult the list of what I had purchased) they added a nice crunchy texture. Speaking of almonds, I next sampled the dark chocolate almond turtle, which was, as its name suggests, shaped to appear almost like a turtle, with a chocolate shell and almonds acting as fins. A layer of chewy caramel sat in between the mound of almonds and that chocolate shell, though it got lost behind the immense amount of almond I was tasting. Here again the chocolate was nice and firm, before quickly melting away inside my mouth. Dark chocolate and almonds are a difficult combination to beat, and this was no exception.

From there, I methodically worked my way through the rest of the box, beginning with the meltaways, which the very kind woman who assembled my box for me said was Stowaway’s most popular item. The milk chocolate was too sweet for my taste (a sentence I never thought I’d write, but here we are) while the dark chocolate provided better balance, with the bitterness of the chocolate helping mellow out some of the sweetness of the filling. These truffles also appeared to be coated in sugar, which didn’t add much beyond making them look pretty, though I’m never going to complain about effort in presentation.

Next I sampled the peppermint truffle, and was almost taken aback by the intense peppermint flavor. As a big fan of peppermint, I was pleasantly surprised, though any flavor provided by the white chocolate was drowned out by the minty center. This truffle came with pieces of crushed peppermint on top, which provided a nice added crunch factor. I would have come back to this truffle for a second bite if I didn’t have so much additional chocolate ahead of me, just because the mintiness was so perfectly spot on.

The wicked dark, which I had to select solely based on its name, may have been my favorite of the entire box. It was rich, dark, and intensely chocolatey in the best way, with a crisp exterior giving way to a slightly gooier center. This was perfection in chocolate form, and I would happily take home a half-pound of exclusively wicked darks on my next visit to Stowaway (and there will certainly be a next visit).

The milk chocolate caramel made me quickly forget about the wicked dark, as the sea salt atop this truffle paired beautifully with the chewy caramel interior and the sweet milk chocolate exterior. This was another highlight of the box for me, and certainly one I would return to.

I next sampled the peanut butter ball, which was a real change of pace from the rest of the truffles I tried, with chocolate ceding the stage to peanut butter here. The exterior, a layer of chocolate covered in peanuts provided a nice texture and I was met with lovely peanut butter on the inside. The peanut butter ball was almost salty, and as such became a real outlier among the rest of the chocolates I tried, especially considering the next chocolate I sampled was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever tasted.

The milk chocolate goldie, adorned with a pecan on top, is filled with vanilla caramel, and in the interest of honesty this was not a favorite for me. I love a pecan, but it could not compete with the overwhelming sweetness of the caramel and the milk chocolate. I suspect this was an error in selection, as a dark chocolate goldie would be much more my speed I think, considering the sweet-on-sweet factor of the milk chocolate and the vanilla caramel.

At this point I took a short break to get a drink of water as I was pretty quickly growing tired of chocolates. But, I plowed ahead and sampled the dark chocolate caramel ball, which contained a fun surprise in the form of a more liquid form of caramel tucked inside. The firm dark chocolate shell gave way to a creamier layer of chocolate before I got to the caramel, which combined nicely with the chocolate to create an excellent truffle.

From there, I moved on to the figaro – a chocolate/hazelnut combination that provided me with the Nutella-Esque sensation I was hoping for when I selected it.

Next up was the maple bourbon pecan meltaway, which I had high hopes for but didn’t quite deliver for me, though there was a nice maple flavor tucked inside the filling here.

The dark chocolate praline was another highlight for me, because of its simplicity. The praline added a nice crunchy sweetness to balance out the dark chocolate, and this was easily one of the best things I tried.

Last but not least was the milk chocolate french mint fudge (try saying that 10 times fast), and while I didn’t encounter nearly as much minty flavor here as I was expecting after the peppermint, this was a nice way to close out my Stowaway experience, with a nice fudgy, chocolatey experience giving way to just a hint of mint.