Through the picture window of Turtle Alley Chocolates in Gloucester, you can see owner and chocolatier Hallie Baker stirring a copper caldron steamy with buttery caramel. Inside the aromas are enticing. Baker, aptly named, who has another shop in Salem, uses the supple caramel to make centers for her fleet of chocolate turtles ($24 a pound) that fill the cases. Each tiny reptilian confection is crafted by hand and comes in more than a dozen varieties, their thick glossy shells made with dark, milk, or white chocolate. Macadamias, almonds, pecans, or cashews peek out like flippers. Beneath the shells, the chunky critters are studded with Turkish apricots, dried cherries or strawberries, shredded coconut, or a dollop of chipotles in adobo. The combinations are a wonderful meld of taste and texture. “I’m inspired by my own cravings,” says the chocolatier. For your Valentine, the turtles and other confections, such as peanut-butter cups, nonpareils, chocolate-coated brittles, nut clusters, and toffees come in velvet, satin, and polka dot heart-shaped boxes (¼ pound to 1 pound for $7.95 to $39.95; 2 pounds for $60). “Making candy every day I’m rewarded because I make people happy,” says Baker. Turtle Alley Chocolates, 42 Rogers St., Gloucester, 978-281-4000; and 177 Essex St., Salem, 978-740-0660, or to go www.turtlealley.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND