business: Dean's Sweets
owners: Dean & Kristin Bingham
location: 82 Middle Street, Portland ME
hours: Sun- Thurs 11-6; Fri-Sat 11-7
phone number: 207.899.3664
Husband and wife team Dean and Kristin started making hand-dipped chocolate truffles in their home in 2004, a side distraction for Dean from his job as an architect. Following fantastic success, Kristin and Dean decided to grow their operation and opened a storefront in Portland's East End last year.
I met this kind couple at an East End Shops meeting, a collaborative effort among local shop owners in my studio's eclectic neighborhood, and was hooked when Dean pulled out a Tupperware container of his favorite treats to share with the group. They are as delicious as they are beautiful, and come in a variety of flavors like mocha, coffee, cayenne and peppermint. All are nut-free, most are gluten-free and some are dairy-free made from the finest imported chocolate. So if you're looking for a traditional wedding favor that will appease both culinary critics and sensitive eaters, stop in and try a few for yourself!
Kristin and Dean, and their storefront tucked between The Pepper Club and Rabelais Books on Middle Street.
Truffles are sold in packages of multiples, left, but be sure to head in and try the samples to find your favorite flavor, right.
Dean works diligently in the back room, dipping fresh blueberries in melted chocolate. Yum! The smell was absolute bliss!
Dean shows me what he calls "truffle guts," the insides of the truffles.
Once dipped and cooled, truffles sorted on racks to be transferred to air-tight containers for storage.
The shop has received some fantastic local press, with recent recognition in Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe and, here, the Portland Phoenix.
Dean says he creates a unique piece of art with each truffle, paying careful attention to proportion, texture, hue and taste.
Word is definitely out as there were plenty of chocolate seeking customers that came in during the brief time I was there.
Salivating yet?! Let me know what your favorite is when you visit. Dean's Sweets is also part of the new Maine Foodie Tours, a great item to add to your out of town guest recommendations!