Quality ingredients, intense flavors, and a delicate touch in dipping all combine to make Sweet Mona’s a real chocolate lover’s find.
Sometimes you stumble on a culinary find that takes your breath away and that’s exactly our reaction to Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique in the quaint little village of Langley on Whidbey Island in Washington state’s Puget Sound.
Owner Ramona “Mona” Newbauer, who makes fine chocolates using high quality Ecuadorian chocolate, never intended to become a chocolatier. “We always talked about chocolate in our household and, in Ohio where we lived, we always had Esther Price Chocolates at Christmastime,” says Mona. “After we moved to Whidbey Island, my son, who was 22 at the time, went down to the local bakery and told them I was interested in making truffles for them.”
Mona was horrified. “The guy at the bakery called me up all excited so I decided to make a few truffles. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
She gave it a try and her truffles sold well. A new career and passion was born.
Over the past 10 years, Mona has educated herself in making fine chocolates and now carries a full line of chocolate candies.
One of the first delights that RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I experienced was Sweet Mona’s Peanut Butter Cups, delicate, half dollar sized chocolate cups filled with an intense and silky peanut butter filling and drizzled with creamy chocolate. With just the right chocolate-peanut butter balance, these are some of the best chocolate peanut butter cups we’ve ever tasted.
Their signature Salted Caramels are equally impressive. Thin chocolate shells (dark or creamy milk) surround a lovely soft, buttery caramel that’s accented with just the right amount of blue Hawaiian sea salt. A note about tasting Mona’s caramels: if the chocolates have become cool, let them warm up to experience their true soft silky texture and buttery flavor. Or, if you can’t wait, allow the candy to melt on your tongue.
Being a Sea Foam fan, I was pleased with the golf-ball sized chunks of the whipped, airy goodness surrounded by a thin layer of chocolate. Their Turtle is a two-inch puddle of chocolate (dark or milk) encasing a chewy, almost stiff layer of butter-scotchy caramel. The chocolate-covered Marzipan, not this reviewer’s favorite (and I’m a marzipan lover), had a smooth texture not usually found in marzipan, but a flavor that was far too subtle for my taste.
Mona also makes a full line of petite Truffles made with milk or her signature 70% Ecuadorian chocolate and larger “dessert truffles” made with single source chocolate from a variety of chocolate-producing countries. Her Loganberry Truffle has a distinct raspberry flavor that’s not overly sweet. Her Espresso Truffle, chock full of intense espresso flavor, is sure to please serious coffee lovers. Her Tahitian Vanilla Truffleis complex with the vanilla softening the intensity of the chocolate flavor.
The dessert truffles are big, two-inch domes that many of the local restaurants like Prima serve. They’re made with “place” chocolates that come from a single source and reflect that area’s terrior (soil, sun, rain, etc). The signage on the truffles describing the flavors such as “coffee, plum” for the 65% Venezula truffle or “wood smoke” for the 64% Costa Rica chocolate helps consumers make the right choice for their taste.
We sampled several of Mona’s dessert truffles, including the Ecuador Truffle, RFT Editor Anne Weaver’s favorite, melts easily on the tongue without any sharp flavor edges. The Bolivian Truffle is clean-tasting with a soft chocolate flavor. The truffle made with chocolate from Paupa New Guinea is smooth and deeply rich.
Mona’s also sells all of her Ecuadorian chocolate by the pound and offers espresso drinks and gelato from Gelatisimo in Seattle.
Real Bottom line: If you’re on Whidbey Island, make a trip to Langley to enjoy this picturesque village and stop into Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique for a taste of some really excellent chocolates. Not going to Whidbey? No worries, Mona offers many of her chocolates online. – Review BH and AW