Grand Haven sweets boutique offers scrumptious handmade chocolates with a healthier twist

Like many things that are decadent and alluring, the debate rages on about the health benefits, or lack thereof, of chocolate. But Grand Haven chocolatier Chocolates by Grimaldi has tipped the scales in favor of downhome goodness by making its handmade sweets preservative-free, with no artificial ingredients and just enough wax to make the chocolate behave.

The 2,500-square-foot shop in a former roller rink at 219 7th St. was pretty sparsely filled when the chocolate production began in 2012, says owner Molli Laham. Now the display floor has chocolates galore and a bar for enjoying the luscious house-made drinking chocolate and homemade marshmallows.

And while the hand-mixed, hand-rolled, hand-dipped customer favorites are the gourmet truffles and caramels, the shop's chocolate-covered potato chips are also in demand.

"We make our Chips 'N Chocolate using Better Made chips made in the Detroit area," Laham says, adding that she uses as many Michigan products as she can. "We tried several different chips, but they had too much grease. Better Made had the least amount of grease and the right amount of salt. The chips go through the enrober (to coat them equally on all sides), then 20 feet of cooling tunnels, so the chocolate and the chips stay crispy."

Valentine's Day specialties abound! The orange-cranberry truffle infuses the flavors of orange zest and fresh cranberries into the truffle cream. The Bailey's truffles and the Amaretto truffles feature the popular liqueur flavors without the alcohol. And for lovers of dark chocolate, there's Grimaldi's Dark Dark Chocolate.

Chocolate "lips" lollipops, chocolate-dipped strawberries, seafoam, and chocolate-covered cookies are just a few of the other offerings.

Laham has her eye set on opening a shop in Grand Rapids, perhaps one in Traverse City, and offering chocolate making classes, but doesn't have any timelines set for those expansions.

In the meantime, she's grown her product line with a new focus on online sales, and says that side of the business is growing steadily.

Regular hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat.
Valentine's hours: Feb. 13 and 14, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Chocolates by Grimaldi
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