Have you tried this chocolate shop voted Dayton’s ‘Best Hidden Gem’?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What to know about Bellbrook Chocolate Shoppe, winner of Dayton.com Best of 2016 "Hidden Gem" award

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It's easy for a candy shop to slip under the radar in the Miami Valley — we've got a slew of them, after all, and there's that Big One that everyone associates with Dayton — but Bellbrook Chocolate Shoppe is stepping out from the shadows.

The family-owned-and-operated shop in the Cross Pointe Shopping Center in Centerville was voted the winner of the Dayton.com Best of 2016 “Hidden Gem” award, and its owners are justifiably proud.

“It’s a huge honor, and I think it means that our hidden gem is going to be discovered,” co-owner Laura Blose said.

Bellbrook Chocolates is no candy-come-lately. Betty Blose founded Bellbrook Chocolate Shoppe in 1984 in the heart of Bellbrook, and moved the business to the Cross Pointe Centre in 1999. She decided to keep the “Bellbrook” name despite the change in zip code.

Betty’s son Marshall Blose and his wife Laura joined the company in 2000. Their 21-year-old daughter Emily, a nutrition major at the University of Cincinnati, also works for the business when classes aren’t in session.

In 2014, the Blose family opened a second location in the 2nd Street Market in downtown Dayton, where they had operated a booth briefly in 2002-03. That decision also is helping to remove the “hidden” tag from the gem.

“We’ve been able to introduce our chocolates to a whole new audience,” Marshall Blose said. “Our business at the market was up 20 percent again in 2016, and we’ve seen some of those customers become customers of our Cross Pointe shop.”

Each piece of Bellbrook Chocolate Shoppe candies is hand-made and hand-dipped, and the Blose family isn’t interested in outgrowing that characteristic.

Another distinguishing component of Bellbrook Chocolate’s candy is its use of a single blend of light and dark chocolate in all of its chocolate candies. Betty Blose created the blend at the urging of her late husband, and it seems to effectively bridge the divide between light-chocolate enthusiasts and dark-chocolate lovers, she said.

The chocolate is featured in a full array of creams and caramels; in seasonal double-dipped strawberries first dipped in white, then blended dark, chocolates; and in chocolate-dipped pretzel rods and dried fruits, among other items.

A few years ago, the family started selling their own Aunt Laura’s Shortbread Cookies, which were warmly received by customers.

“Our shortbread cookies have been our highest-growth item,” Marshall Blose said. “They’re the real deal, made entirely in-house.” There are seven different flavors, such as butter, white chocolate toffee, chocolate pecan, and chocolate chunk.

The Blose family realizes their shop is not the first chocolate producer that comes to mind for many Daytonians.

“Esther Price has a lot of name recognition,” Marshall said of the 90-year-old chain that operates seven stores in southwest Ohio. “But we think the more people who try our candy, the better off we’ll be.

“Try them side-by-side, and see for yourself who makes the best chocolate.”

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