Chocolate shop prepares for the sweetest day of the year


The most romantic of all holidays is rapidly approaching, and the team at Peterbrooke Chocolatier has been hard at work to make sure Valentine’s Day 2021 is the sweetest ever.

“We’re doing everything we can possibly think of,” said Rosemary Duggan, director of training at the store in the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center. “It’s our Super Bowl.”

Indeed, the shelves are lined with elegant gift baskets, heart-shaped boxes and much more. In one corner, wine-and-chocolate pairings promise an enchanting evening for two.

“Our chocolate-covered strawberries are our biggest seller,” said Duggan. “And, of course, we have our chocolate-covered popcorn.”

The latter is a year-round favorite that, for holidays, becomes a tasty filler for hollow chocolate molds. At Christmastime, these might be shaped like snowmen. Around Valentine’s Day, they are molded into hearts.

But popcorn isn’t all that can be concealed inside these sweet vessels.

“You can hide a ring if you’re planning on asking your sweetheart the big question,” said Duggan. “We can put that ring in there for you.”

Special arrangements like this are possible because many of the delicious treats sold at the shop are actually created there. Behind the scenes, there is a whole kitchen devoted to making high-quality chocolate products.

In fact, customized options are one of the hallmarks of the shop. A customer may want company logos or loved ones’ names written on the candy in chocolate script or something special dipped in chocolate. And the Peterbrooke staff is pleased to do it.

“We love customization,” said head chocolatier Amy Myhre. “Whatever you’re thinking … you bring it to us, and we’ll try to make it work.”

Myhre recommended that customers wanting something special simply give the shop a week’s notice.

For those who don’t consider themselves chocolate aficionados, it is important to understand that every brand has its own recipe. Since its founding in Jacksonville in 1983, the focus of Peterbrooke Chocolatier has been hand-crafted, European-style chocolate.

“We use very high-quality cocoa in our chocolate, which means it’s very smooth,” explained Duggan. “We use real cocoa powder, real cocoa butter, and that’s what makes it taste very good.”

In addition to in-store sales, the team at Peterbrooke Chocolatier offers catering. They can put together platters of chocolate-dipped fruits and other treats and chocolate tables for weddings and corporate events.

Among the selections are chocolate fountains and centerpieces, strawberry trees, wedding favors and more.

The shop also has a portable gelato machine, which can be brought to events.

For customers who are concerned about the coronavirus, the shop offers curbside service. For Christmas, it transitioned from its traditional platters to those with individually packed items. Staff members wear masks 100% of the time, and sanitizers have been made available for people to use.

Myhre said they are very grateful for their customers, whom they think of as family, for remaining supportive throughout 2020.

“As a small business, this past year has been a strange time,” said Myhre. “And I think we have seen nothing but great, sweet people coming into the store and trying to support us.”

Whatever 2021 brings, one thing remains clear: celebrating love isn’t going away. And where there is romance, there is chocolate.

“Valentine’s is a sweet time to express love, a little extra love,” said Myhre. “We all need that this year in particular.”