Paula Barth waited six years for the stretch of Biscayne Boulevard between 63rd and 64th streets to improve before opening an outpost of her Beacon Hill Chocolates shop from Boston in October.
She lives in nearby Belle Meade, and when a Starbucks opened next door to a former motel, she knew the moment was right.
The shop has pale mint- and milk chocolate-striped walls, white-painted wood flooring and glass cases filled with bonbons, roasted nuts (try the sweet and sassy mix of almonds and cashews coated in sugar, chili powder and garlic powder), and locally made gelato in flavors like maple bacon, mango, pistachio, peanut butter and coconut.
Note the collection of vintage Florida boxes with mermaids, starfish and shells as well as plenty of cupid and Valentine-themed boxes to fill with truffles.
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Barth grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and is Italian-American. She studied political science at Fordham University and then moved to Italy and ran a bakery just outside of Rome for five years before moving to Miami and becoming a wholesale food distributor. She met her husband two years later, when he was on a business trip from Boston, and she moved with him to the Beacon Hill area of Boston.
Barth said she noticed that there were no artisan chocolate shops in the neighborhood, so she opened her own in 1996, honoring the history and flavor of handmade chocolates made by European and U.S. chocolatiers.
The cacao beans she uses are the Criollo from Venezuela (considered among the best in the world), Forastero, the hardy and “bulk” bean from West Africa and Brazil, and the crossbreed of the two known as Trinitario from the Caribbean. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus rightfully named the plant Theobroma cacao, meaning “food of the gods,” long before the ancient Mexican elite drank it, unsweetened and spiked with chiles.
Fill a heart-shape red box to give to your sweetie. Choose from more than 60 varieties, like all sorts of chocolate ganache in chocolate shells; the Vienna with vanilla cream layered between dark chocolate rounds topped with cacao nibs; a salted caramel jewel with a creamy liquid center and a hint of salt encased in a chocolate gem; a fish-shape Zinfandel balsamic truffle; and pistachio praline layered with dark chocolate, olive oil and sea salt ganache.
Other truffles include the milk chocolate peanut butter cream cone, marzipan enveloped in dark chocolate, lavender milk chocolate dipped in white chocolate, Bailey’s Irish cream, banana foster caramel and caramel sushi (caramel and marshmallow swirls dipped in dark or milk chocolate).
It is a sweet world here — perfect for picking up a box of chocolates for your Valentine, or for yourself.
If You Go
Place: Beacon Hill Chocolates.
Address: 6318 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
Contact: 305-560-5300, beaconhillchocolates.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Truffles $2.50-$3.75; candies 30 pieces for $64, 12 pieces for $36, 4 pieces for $18.