Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale: a great way to spend the day

In my previous post, I shared information about the Desert Botanical Garden and the natural topography and flora of the Sonoran Desert. In this post, I want to tantalize you with the various chocolate offerings you’ll encounter as a participant in the Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale.

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Gwendolyn McKay (left) is a chocolate enthusiast and owner of the Chocolatour Tour of Scottsdale company.

Owned by Gwendolyn McKay, this company takes you on a two-mile walking tour of downtown Scottsdale, that my friend Laverne equated to The Amazing Race for Chocolate. We were indeed on a mission to get to as many chocolate hot spots that our two-and-a-half hour tour would allow.

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The beautiful artistry of Zak’s Chocolate bonbons.

We had the privilege of a private tour with Gwendolyn and loved every minute of it. Her love for chocolate and admiration of cacao shone through with every step of our delicious journey that began at Paul’s Salon and Spa. (Don’t be misled by the name. Paul’s has a terrific boutique that is worth exploring if you arrive early for the tour.) We began with a patio tasting of an Earl Grey and Lavender bonbon from Zak’s Chocolate, located too far from the centre of Scottsdale to be included in the walking tour, but too good not to include. (I’ll share the experience of our private tour of Zak’s in a future post.) This award-winning company produces the finest bean-to-bar chocolate in Arizona, and also makes some dynamite truffles, bonbons, and confections.

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See’s Candies opened in Los Angeles in 1921, and later in Scottsdale in 1973.

Our next stop on the tour was See’s Candies. This confectioner uses Guittard Chocolate of California to create their playful chocolate treats, and has been in business since 1921. Their motto is “Quality without compromise.” See’s products are preservative free and sell for the single price of $20.50 per pound. That makes it easy to mix and match anything you like into a single order.

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With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I couldn’t resist the beautiful red heart box of chocolates, which I filled with the selections of my choice. Thanks to Gwen, that included several Scotchmallows made from See’s own honey marshmallows and a layer ofย caramel covered in rich, dark chocolate. They are fabulous!

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The black and white theme in See’s shops mirrors the colour theme found in Mary Sees’s own kitchen.

The black and white colour theme of See’s shops mirrors the colour theme in founder Mary Sees’s own kitchen, where she began making her candies. Founded in Los Angeles, California, See’s Candies now has more than 200 shops around the world that are serviced by their factories in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Our next stop was the Herb Box, a locally owned company that serves up chocolate treats in addition to a full menu of incredibly healthy options. I’ll feature them in my upcoming post on fabulous culinary options of Scottsdale. Following our visit to the Herb Box, we stopped at sugarfina in Nordstrom’s, located in the Fashion Square Mall. The sugarfinaย company sells a cool assortment of chocolate offerings that include Cuban chocolate cigars made by Vendi of Italy, and gummies made with Casamigos Tequila owned by George Clooney. We then dropped into Caketini next door for a chocolate canolli. Caketini offers a nice assortment of super high cakes and truffle-type “cake pops” based on the owner’s family recipes.

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sugarfina offers high quality Cuban chocolate cigars made by Vendi of Italy with aromatic cacao from New Guinea.

Ever wanted a delicious cupcake at 2 am, only to find your cupboard is bare and everything is closed? Fret no more. Our tour’s next stop was Sprinkles, where you can buy a cupcake from their street side “Cupcake ATM” that holds up to 540 cupcakes! Too much fun!

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This chocolate cupcake ATM is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a stop on the chocolate Tour of Scottsdale.

Owner Candace Nelson opened her first cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills, California, with just cupcakes on offer, but now sells mini cupcakes, doggie cupcakes, and cookies, as well as copies of Candace’s own cookbooks.

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It was pretty hard to pry tour leader Gwendolyn away from the cupcake counter at Sprinkles, locatedย at 4501 North Scottsdale Road to satisfy your late night cravings while in Arizona.

The tour’s final stop was at Classic Cakes Bakery, where we met owner Neil Levinson, who immigrated to Arizona from Montreal, Canada, with his family 20 years ago. In addition to truly artistic cakes, this shop offers super tasty novelties such as the Red Velvet Twinkies and S’more tarts and pies.

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Neil Levinson and the team at Classic Cakes Bakery create some incredibly artistic cakes to admire and enjoy.

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For the woman who has everything! A chocolate purse from Classic Cakes.

Chocolate Tours of Scottsdale are run seasonally from October to May, ceasing during the summer due to the intense Arizona heat. Tours can be customized for groups with special interests and are suitable for ages 8-80. The cost per person is $45 plus tax, which includes a selection of complimentary tastings. If you find yourself in the Phoenix area, do treat yourself to one of these taste-tempting tours with Gwendolyn. Your taste buds will love you for it.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

64 Responses

  1. michele h peterson
    Twitter:
    says:

    A two-mile walking tour of downtown Scottsdale with chocolate tastings for just $45 – that is a fantastic deal! And all the stops look so delicious. That cupcake ATM is just too cute @

  2. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    This looks like a great tour. I love the chocolate purse. And the cupcake ATM is such a great idea!

  3. Carol Colborn says:

    And the chocolate purse talks! What fun. I live in Mesa but I’ve not heard of that Cupcake ATM. I will go and see and buy! That Chocolate Tour sounds heavenly. Wish we had a Meetup while you were in town.

  4. Nice, Doreen! Love the cupcake ATM. And See’s Chocolate comes straight out of California, where I live! I always like to bring some home for my family when I go back east. Just curious: did the bakeries you visited have gluten-free cupcake options? I love cupcakes so much, and I hate to think about missing out since I adopted the GF lifestyle. Some bakeries have them, and some don’t ๐Ÿ™

  5. Laverne says:

    I loved the chocolate walking tour! It was like a treasure hunt and at each stop there was a chocolate treasure! The samples at each stop were excellent. If you love chocolate you need to do this tour. Gwen was a great tour guide and her love of chocolate showed. This was a good way to get a bit of a tour of the shopping areas in Scottsdale too!

  6. Catherine Sweeney
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’ve got to take this tour! I’ve had the red velvet twinkies at Classic Cakes, but have obviously missed out on a lot of other deliciousness and fun — right here in my own back yard. The cupcake ATM is awesome.

  7. You’ve found some more visually beautiful chocolates. Especially Zakโ€™s chocolate bonbons – they look far too good to eat!

  8. Linda
    Twitter:
    says:

    Of course you must begin your tour at Paul’s Salon & Spa! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Looks like a fun tour. I can sure understand why the tours shut down during the summer in Scottsdale. It’s hard to walk around in an oven. Is that purse really a cake?

  9. Ceci
    Twitter:
    says:

    Sounds like an amazing adventure. A friend of mine is a devotee of Sees chocolate and travels hundreds of miles to indulge!

  10. TammyJo Eckhart
    Twitter:
    says:

    Looks and reads like a very cool tour to take. Thank you for sharing your walk of it with us.

  11. Janet May-Hewson says:

    The artistry is amazing. My problem would be not wanting to disturb such beauty.

    • Janet, think of this chocolate artistry as the equivalent of fine dishes or glasses. If we don’t use and enjoy them, they are merely there. If we enjoy them to their fullest, we get the true satisfaction of the experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. You brought back the best memory of my years in California–the bosses (small company–woman owner) would occasionally dip out of the office mid afternoon on a crazy day and bring us back fresh Sees candy. I wasn’t a super chocolate fan, but biting into that—I converted!

  13. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    I enjoyed reading this post and salivating at the chocolates. It looks as though See’s store is ready for Valentine’s Day. You cannot miss the theme across the shop floor!

    The cup cake ATM looks fun – the only issue I would have is how often are the cakes replenished? I am a born fuss pot!

    The white cake decorated with roses is elegantly beautiful. Sometimes simple really is best!

  14. noel says:

    What a fun tour, I saw a few of these when I visited Scottsdale, but didn’t get a chance to drop in, now I know what I was missing.

    • Hi, Noel. Yes, sometimes it takes an organized to make us realize all that’s out there. I was thrilled at the chocolate options I discovered while in Scittsdale, and am now working on my next Chocolatour to San Mateo, CA in April. Can’t wait!

  15. Kemkem
    Twitter:
    says:

    Well today is the perfect day to read this post, being Valentine’s day and all! I love the idea of this tour and l don’t think l would have the heart to eat that chocolate handbag :-). Just too beautiful. Thanks for sharing this and for making me salivate ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Lenie
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen, with all these temptations I’m truly surprised you are not as big as a house. What willpower.
    I think the cupcake ATM is just the cutest idea – aren’t people creative? Love it.
    I’m looking forward to your post about the Herb Box – can’t wait to read what that’s all about. Chocolate and herbs – can’t get much better.

  17. UMANG TRIVEDI
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow! Who doesn’t love chocolates? Add in a chocolate tour and a whole day enjoying it, well that makes a great way to indulge in an amazing experience!

  18. A chocolate tour sounds like such a wonderful indulgence.

  19. OMG the ATM! I have always wanted to try that! They have one in disney springs where I am now and its one of my goals this visit. Did you get a cupcake or just see the ATM?

  20. Nathan says:

    What an interesting idea to have a cupcake ATM to cater to the needs of people who just need a sweet treat urgently! Nice walking tour put up for chocolate lovers ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. What a great post. This is surely a tour I must take, though I’m quite sure my sugar levels would never be the same.

  22. What a cupcake ATM, really??
    A chocolate tour- can be new fantasy for people.

  23. thesociohub
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for sharing this and for making me salivate. The choclate purse looks awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ keep sharing useful things.

  24. I love the idea of a chocolate tour like this one in Scottsdale. Every city should have one! And the sight of that handbag cake made me laugh out loud: I have a friend who that would be perfect for!

  25. Bola
    Twitter:
    says:

    The beautiful red heart box of chocolates were the ones I felt like indulging in. Very appetising.

  26. Lisa Chavis
    Twitter:
    says:

    Another drool-worthy post! And another place to add to the ever-growing chocolate tasting list! Iโ€™m not sure if we told you, but we found a copy of your book in Grenada when we spent several months there this summer – it came highly recommended

  27. I have yet to find a cupcake ATM, but still actively searching. I fell hard for See’s chocolates many years ago and indulge every chance I get. As a big fan of food tours when visiting a new city, I’m definitely going to add a chocolatour into the mix!

  28. Sandy N Vyjay
    Twitter:
    says:

    The Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale sounds fascinating and tempting. My attention was immediately riveted to the picture of the Zakโ€™s Chocolate bonbons. They look like sheer works of art, such beauty in chocolate. The other thing that I loved was the cupcake ATM, so interesting and nice to get a cupcake whenever required.

  29. Ami Bhat
    Twitter:
    says:

    As always, the chocolates look yummy, enough for me to break my sugar free spree. The artisan cakes definitely appeal. Thanks Doreen for the virtual treat.

  30. Haralee says:

    Chocolate tour, I am there! All these pictures look fantastic!

  31. cindy
    Twitter:
    says:

    How did I not see this before I went to Scottsdale this winter?!! Now I’ll have to wait a whole year to check out all these luscious chocolate spots!

  32. Piyusharya says:

    You Both Are Looking Such a real Chocolate Pie yummyyyy.

  33. James Waugh
    Twitter:
    says:

    Nice, Doreen! Love the cupcake ATM. And Seeโ€™s Chocolate comes straight out of California, where I live! i love to be the bigest fan of chocalate world

  34. Your tour has showcased a lot of Entrepreneurs who are successfully running their business with passion and love. I loved the concept of Cup Cake ATM. The images look so good. I wish I could jump into it and them.

  35. Haryanvi Chutkule
    Twitter:
    says:

    The chocolate purse looks awesome, keep sharing useful things. ๐Ÿ™‚

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