I’ve often been curious about the chocolate shop at Lake Anne Plaza. It’s always great to see a locally-owned business succeeding in Reston, but this one is particularly intriguing to me, because it’s such a charming little neighborhood store. And let’s be honest: anything involving chocolate is going to catch my attention. Probably yours, too. I’ve bought several treats and gifts at Chesapeake Chocolates over the years, but I’d never stopped to get to know the owner until recently. With the holiday shopping season here, I thought now would be a perfect time to get to know Chesapeake Chocolates.
Doris Tyler has owned and operated Chesapeake Chocolates since 1998. She started the business out of her home, and moved into her current space at Lake Anne in 2007. Her professional background is in special education, but she was inspired by her sister to make chocolates for a living. Her sister runs a popular chocolate shop in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where she employs people with disabilities. Doris learned the art of chocolate-making from her sister, and as her business grows, she hopes to be able to offer employment for people with special needs.
Chesapeake Chocolates got its name from Doris’s love of the Chesapeake Bay. Her husband is from Crisfield, Maryland, and they spend a lot of time on the Eastern Shore. One of her most popular products is a bushel of chocolate crabs — crab-shaped chocolates packaged in wooden baskets.
Doris makes chocolates in a huge variety of other shapes, too. Seen here is an arrangement of chocolate flowers displayed in handmade pottery that is also sold in the shop.
This time of year, Christmas-themed chocolates are especially popular. I watched as Doris poured chocolate into a Christmas tree mold to create holiday gifts. She also creates reindeer, snowmen, nutcrackers, and “gingerbread” cottages made out of chocolate.
Customized chocolate shapes are available all year round, with something to suit just about anyone’s interests. The shop offers a list of available themes that include animals, sports, milestones, and numerous other novelties. While I was there, Doris had recently prepared several favors for a construction company’s annual party, with chocolates shaped as concrete trucks and tools.
I think these molded chocolates are a fantastic, customizable gift idea. Give chocolate comedy/tragedy masks to a teenage thespian. Or musical instruments to a band teacher. Or a baseball bat and glove to a Little Leaguer. Or an assortment of sand dollars, lighthouses, and seashells for a beach-loving grandparent.
If you would like to order customized chocolates as a gift for this Christmas, contact Chesapeake Chocolates right away to make your reservation.
Chesapeake Chocolates also offers a large array of speciality chocolates, including truffles, nut clusters, and caramels. They are available to purchase individually or as part of a boxed assortment. One of the most popular specialities is Go-CoNut Bark, which is dark chocolate with ginger, orange peel, and coconut. My personal favorite is the dark chocolate Mint Truffle, but everything I’ve tasted has been delicious.
I watched as Doris created some milk chocolate truffles. I especially appreciated the careful, swirling motion of her spoon at the top of each truffle.
In case you’re wondering, yes, my mouth was watering as I watched her make chocolates. And the intoxicating scent! Divine! I asked Doris if she is tempted to eat the chocolates all day long, because I know I would eat the inventory faster than I could make it. She smiled and said effortlessly that no, it’s not a problem for her. Clearly she’s tougher than I am, because that chocolate is delicious.
Chesapeake Chocolates is located in Lake Anne Plaza, and 11426 Washington Plaza West Reston, VA 20190, inside the Lake Anne Florist shop. For more information, visit the website at www.cheschoc.com.
For more holiday gift ideas, check out our gift guide for people who love Reston.
For more stories about food, drinks, and restaurants, be sure to see our EAT category.