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Whetstone Chocolates Factory Tour

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Mr. Beet and I spent the weekend up in St. Augustine for another one of our 5K races- but I think the highlight of the trip for both of us was touring the factory of Whetstone Chocolates of St. Augustine.

The Whetstone business started as a small ice cream store in 1967 in the Old Town district of St. Augustine before they ventured into fudge and chocolates.  Now, the factory is one of the premiere tourist destinations for this charming city located on the northeast coast of Florida.

There seemed to be quite a sprinkling of chocolate shops around the historic town but none were raved or talked about as much as Whetstone.  As I was doing research for our little weekend getaway I discovered Whetstone offers tours of their factory.  Well, since it was Mr. Beet’s birthday and he LOVES chocolate I called to make a reservation for one of the three tours they offer daily (highly recommended as our tour filled up pretty quickly).

a large chocolate brown and cream colored sign reading Whetstone Chocolates of St Augustine against a bright blue sky

When we first arrived, we were escorted into a small room with plushy chairs and tables while we waited for the tour to begin.  We quickly realized that the walls were all the color of chocolate – light chocolate, dark chocolate, creamy chocolate………we were ready for some sampling!  We didn’t have to wait long- as soon as the tour began we were offered fudge- peanut butter fudge and dark fudge with walnuts.  Awesomeness……

We sat in a room and learned about the beginnings of the cacao tree with its fruit pods (did you know chocolate is actually a fruit?) and its separation of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter (it’s not alcoholic liquor- that’s just the name given to what is basically raw chocolate).  We learned that milk chocolate doesn’t actually have real milk in it but rather powdered milk – we learned that good chocolate will contain at least 35% cocoa (most mass produced chocolate contains less than 7% cocoa).

Anyway, it was time for the factory tour- first we had to put on hair nets……and then we got to go into the actual factory…..

an exterior shot of a yellow brick one story building very plain with a door to the chocolate factory

The factory is very small – it is located just next door to one of the Whetstone Shops – however, this is where they make all their truffles, fudge, candies, gelato, hot chocolate etc……

a view of the industrial kitchen at the Whetstone Chocolate factory

We saw lots of  candy molds lying around….

a stack of clear plastic candy molds shaped like a gator

a shelf of transparent chocolate molds on an industrail white iron table

I found my dream mixer…..

a white and copper industrial mixer on the factory floor

I found my dream open kitchen space……..

the stainless steel kitchen with shelves of bowls and baking sheets at Whetstone Chocolates

We got more samples……

a tray of white chocolate squares

I even had a chance to help Lucy Ricardo on the production line………

the author in a hairnet standing next to Lucille Ball statue on a chocolate belt line

…which was really going great until Mr. Beet wanted to join in and got us into trouble…….

Mr Beet in a red shirt with a hairnet and the author in a hairnet caught eating a chocolate with puffy cheeks standing on either side of a Lucille Ball statue on a chocolate belt line

Tours are offered three times daily……I would recommend going on a weekday when they are actually making the chocolate – we went on a Sunday and all the chocolatiers were off!  Tours are $8.00 pp – but then you get a $2 coupon to use at the shop after.  Plus you get plenty of samples on the hour long tour and they allow you to sample anything in the shop.

It was very informative as well as entertaining (and yummy).  We learned about all the benefits of eating chocolate (besides happiness), especially dark chocolate which is full of anti-oxidants.  (The higher the percentage of cocoa the better!)  Also, be sure to check the ingredients in your favorite chocolate- some of the companies with the best reputations will use paraffin wax instead of cocoa butter to save on money but still charge you more (yes- WAX).  I think Mr. Beet and I have officially become chocolate SNOBS!


a box of various chocolates in a black background from Whetstone Chocolates

Helen Corbin

Tuesday 1st of May 2012

This is all very interesting. I love your new mixer and pantry :-)

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