Susan Fuller and her son, Robert Fuller sell handmade chocolates from their ice-cream store on Wharf Street. They learned their trade in candy stores in New England, and they have come up with some crowd-pleaser.


Giant truffles, as big as a ripe plum, are made with chocolate and heavy cream and flavored with liqueurs like Grand Marnier before being dipped in chocolate. The Fullers use chocolate blends from Peter’s Chocolate, a company started by the Swiss inventor of milk chocolate, Daniel Peter, which later became part of Nestle and is now owned by Cargil. “When you temper it right, it has a wonderful shine to it,” Susan says. The texture and high quality of the semisweet has earned the Fullers loyal customers; people who prefer more bitter chocolate fare look elsewhere.

Fuller extols her thin and delicate almond English toffee or “butter crunch.” “It’s an art to make it thin without wrecking it,” she says. She spreads it out on a big table to cool, then coats it with melted chocolate and crushed almonds. The thinner it is the faster the flavor of the buttery, silky sugar can spread in your mouth.

S’mores are confected with tender homemade marshmallow on a quarter of a graham cracker dipped in chocolate. Turtles are made with almonds, cashews, and pecans. Susan and her son roast large cashews, and makes fruit gels, chocolate-dipped apricots, and cherry
cordials. Clusters, or “haystacks,” are made of chunks of fudge dipped in chocolate. All these specialties make the store a delightful stop during a stroll in Portland’s Old Port, where the Fullers started business on Fore Street in 2002 and, in the spring of 2006, moved to
their current address.

43 Wharf Street
Portland 04101
Susan Fuller, owner
Open in April, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; summer hours are 11 a.m.
to 10 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.


Monica’s Chocolates operates out of a small white house near the bridge to Camponello Island, and is open all day, everyday. Inside two retail rooms flank the small kitchen, which you can peer into from the shop.

Chocolates are a late-life passion for Monica Elliot, who started her business in Lubec following her movethere with her husband, who came to work in the salmon-farming industry. Until 1998, she had made wedding clothes in Peru, and moved around a bit before finallyfeast_monicas_seacucumbervertical_w.jpg making Lubec her home, in 2000.

Elliot uses the finest chocolate from Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Ghana, which is processed in Massachusetts. Most of what she sells—95 percent of her business is done over the Internet—is made with bittersweet chocolate, but she sells white chocolate and milk chocolate too. Still, it’s what’s inside the candy that distinguishes Monica Elliot’s inventions. She makes a particularly sensuous caramel, softer in winter because of the lack of humidity but always just this side of liquid. That caramel is the stellar flavor of her sea urchins, wide, flat candies draped with crisscrossed bittersweet chocolate. Also folded inside are toffee, pecans, and Peruvian filling, a confection of
milk and sugar that is cooked for many hours until it achieves a “melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Sea cucumbers, a short cylinder of rolled caramel, hold peanut butter within a chocolate coating. Big, fat bonbons are made with apricots or plums, or pecans, are stuffed with Peruvian filling and dipped in chocolate. The pineapple, peach, and apricot glace come from Australia. “The Australian fruit is fantastic,” she says. “In the United States the fruit is beautiful but it doesn’t have any flavor.” Orange peel from Spain and organic pistachios, hazelnuts, and marzipan from Sicily are also inside her chocolates. The walnuts come from good old Ohio.

56 Pleasant Street
Lubec 04652
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
PHOTOGRAPHY Benedetta Spinelli


On the eve of her third Maine Bar Exam—she’d failed the first two—Susan Tuveson encountered her future: its name was “Cacao.”
Tuveson had worked as a lawyer in Minnesota, but she’d also moonlighted on weekends at a friend’s chocolate shop, gradually learning the trade. At home she even made chocolates as gifts, but when she and her husband moved to Maine in the late 1990s she never expected that chocolate would take over her workweek, much less her life. Then suddenly, in January 2000, chocolate revealed itself to her in, as she puts it, a “classic epiphany.

Tuveson called and canceled her spot at the bar exam, forfeited the $500 fee, and devised a plan to transform her house in Kittery into a shop. “The very first truffle I made was orange and chocolate,” she says. “It’s still the most satisfying combination.

cacao---2-orig_w.jpg Tuveson uses essential oils for flavoring, infusing the chocolate ganache of her truffles with brilliant flavor. Chinese five spice with cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cloves, and Szechuan pepper was another early flavor, along with peanut butter and espresso. Cherry with chipotle, which had started as a game sauce, became the basis for a truffle, as did the taste of the fennel ice cream she enjoyed at Arrows, a celebrated restaurant in southern Maine that delights in novel food combinations. “I was going to serve a Gorgonzola truffle with salad, but it turned out to be great with red wine,” Tuveson says.

Cacao is not on the Web, and though they will ship (from October 15 through April), they prefer to take orders by phone or in person. Tuveson has turned down every request for sales elsewhere—even from Bloomingdale’s in New York. “The American business idea is to get bigger. Ours is to get better.”

A top seller is the sea-salt caramel; buttery caramel dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt from Warren, Maine. Others seek out the chocolate caramel: “Like a Tootsie Roll if it was made with heavy cream and butter and good bittersweet chocolate minus the birthday candles melted in.” The 24-karat gold foil on the Mayan truffle might be cut a little smaller this spring, with the rise in the price of gold.”

64 Government Street
Kittery 03904
Susan Tuveson, owner
Open Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4
p.m; closed Sunday and Monday, and the month of August.

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