Waterfalls of chocolate… Cubes of caramel… And trays of turtles. There’s certainly something sweet happening at Hilliards Chocolates.
Located in an old white Victorian farmhouse, standing grandly on the corner of Washington and Main in North Easton, Hilliards is a family owned chocolate company that’s been crafting gourmet confections for nearly a century.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “It dates back generations to about 1924. My grandfather started this location in 1950. And it’s just turned into like a wildly successful, great adventure.”
Erin McCarthy is part of the fourth generation of the Hilliard family now running the business. And to say she grew up here is almost an understatement.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “The building and the business is big part of part of my childhood. Almost all my childhood memories involved in some part, the store. And it was really fun. I was a kid in a candy store.”
In fact, people from all over have warm memories of Hilliards. From the inside of the shop always filled with rows and rows of sweet treats, to the outside of the shop, topped with a particularly memorable box of chocolates.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “Yeah, the box of chocolates on the roof. My grandfather did that. It was one of my uncles I believe that actually handcrafted the chocolates. The box itself used to be on the porch down here, but interesting story, some people thought it would be fun to steal some of the chocolates, so we put it up on the roof, and that’s what people really think of when they think of this building.”
For generations, all of the Hilliards candies were made right in the shop. But as the business grew, so did the need for more space. So a few years ago, they built a giant production facility right next door. And even though they’re now working in a brand new, state of the art building, most of the candy making is still done using old work techniques, and old school equipment.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “Some of the equipment we have is very old, but it’s still wonderful. We have the copper kettles. And copper is important in the tempering of the candy. We have these cooling tables that have been around longer than the business itself. The caramel cutting machine and the caramel press have been around forever, at least since the early 1900s. Our enrobers in the other room, my grandfather actually invented. And then he continued to sell them around the country, and to this day you’ll Hilliards enrobers and dippers all around the country.”
And of all the deliciousness being made at Hilliards, nothing is more popular than their Almond Toffee Crunch.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “I really think our signature item would be our almond toffee crunch. That’s one of the recipes we’ve had since the beginning. It’s a thin layer of our toffee with almonds mixed in. And then we coat each side with dark chocolate and raw crushed almonds also on each side. It just has a really great texture, crunch, but it’s also buttery and tender. So it’s really delicious. Most people who try our almond toffee crunch say it’s one of a kind.”
The chocolate options are almost endless at Hilliards, especially when it comes to truffles, because the display case is always filled with all kinds of flavors.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “One of our newer truffles is a cookie and cream. That one’s delicious. We have some of the Oreo cookie sprinkled on top and mixed within. We also have a peanut butter truffle which is delicious, and pistachio. And I don’t know if I can pick a favorite between those three.”
So if you can’t decide, just grab a bunch of bite sized truffles. But if you really want to indulge, get some of the decadent dessert sized ones.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “The dessert size truffles are about the size of a golf ball. And they’re really delicious. They really can replace a dessert, they’re meant to be savored, cut in half, definitely don’t eat them in one bite. They’re really a special treat.”
Another special treat — that’s chewy, crunchy, salty, and sweet — are Hilliards Cashew Patties.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “We start on a bed of the cashews and those are good because they’re roasted and salted and that salty and sweet really, is a great combination. We have a nice soft caramel that goes on top. It’s a very smooth buttery caramel. And then on top of that we have our signature chocolate.”
Other great choices here include classic Chocolate Covered Oreos. And creamy Peanut Butter Delights, featuring two great tastes that taste great together.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “Our peanut butter delights are for any peanut lover. The peanut butter filling is a special recipe. We’re not gonna give it away. And of course, peanut butter with chocolate is just like an amazing combination anyways.”
Another amazing combination, chocolate covered Sea Salt Caramels, each one topped with just the right amount of salt, sprinkled on by hand.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “Even though we do have the equipment that runs through the enrober, it’s still important to hand sprinkle the salt on. A machine just couldn’t do it to give you that perfect amount of salt in comparison to the sweet. Sometimes there’s no replacement for machinery. You really need the people there.”
And it’s the people who make all the sweets here so special.
Erin McCarthy – Hilliards Chocolates, Creative Director: “Because it’s a family business, and it’s gone back generations, there really is truly a sense of love. And it might be cliche but you know when things are made with love it shows, and I think everything we have here really is made with love.”