Explore the sweeter side of the borough

By Merle Exit

Valentine’s Day connotes visions of hearts and chocolate.

Is it because of chocolate’s reputed aphrodisiac qualities, or just a way for candy companies to sell more sweets between Christmas and Easter?

Giving chocolate to represent this day of love can be accomplished two ways in Queens.

You can purchase sweets at mom-and-pop candy-making shops or head off to a place that supplies everything you need to create your own.

Schmidt’s Candy, located at 94-15 Jamaica Ave. in Woodhaven, has been at the same location since 1925.

The shop still has that old-fashioned look passed down to the founder’s granddaughter, Margie. You can actually peer in the back and watch Margie and the staff fashion the bite-size ecstasies.

Jump back to the year 1930 when Aigner Chocolates opens in nearby Forest Hills at 103-02 Metropolitan Ave. under the name of Krause’s Candy Kitchen. This company has been inherited by the third generation, whose member Christopher Aigner is the vice president.

Aigner said that they use a combination of Merckens, one of the largest makers of bulk chocolate in North America, and an Italian chocolate blend for their sweets.

Look inside the glass showcases as you may want to personalize by choosing the exact one or two bite-sized gourmet pieces with various centers of solids, gels, or creams that are made from scratch.

Options include raspberry cream, mocha truffle, orange peel, pistachio marzipan, cherry cordials made with real cherries, Viennese truffles and chocolate covered ginger.

If, however, you are feeling creative, you may drop into a store that sells melting chocolate — this kind substitutes vegetable oils for some of the cocoa butter and makes it much easier to work with.

One such store is Fun Stuff located at 75-22 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village where you discover hundreds of molds as you enter the store.

Owner Janet Falcone said people tend to purchase her high quality melting chocolates because, “most people do not know how to temper chocolates or have the equipment to do so, especially when creating in quantities.”

Using a double boiler, place hot water in the bottom pot, the chocolate in the top one. As the chocolate melts, stir it until all of the chocolate is liquid. Remove from heat.

Foil cups and bags of chopped ingredients such as malted milk, tiny rice crispies, toffee crunch, chopped or whole nuts, and dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries can be combined with the melted chocolate or used to top the confections.

Personalize the box by buying red wafers that you can melt and place into a simple pastry bag to spell out a Valentine greeting.

Other stores that sell everything you need to make your own Valentine treats are Meadows Chocolate and Cake Supplies, located at 101-16 Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park.

There is also Dip, Pour and Drizzle located at 169-02 Crocheron Ave. in the Auburndale section of Flushing.

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