Best of summer

Customers introduce cool new flavors for hot summer days.

It’s summer: a season when people are in the mood to have some fun--and splurge on a little fudge. It’s also a good time of year to offer special flavors.

Here’s what five retailers and Calico’s Master Fudge Maker are doing this season:

  • Schoolhouse Gallery, Marblehead, Ohio

    Schoolhouse Gallery, Marblehead, Ohio

    Summer is the big season for Schoolhouse Gallery. For that reason, according to Schoolhouse’s Mary Ann Witter, the store, which is open from May to just before Christmas, sells 65 flavors of fudge in the summer compared to about 30 from October to December.

    To that end, Witter and her fellow fudge makers brainstorm early in the season to come up with new flavors. But the key, she says, is their toppings. For example, they’ll decorate their chocolate caramel fudge with Rolo candies. Peanut butter chocolate will have Reese’s cups on top. Other caramel flavors will feature a coating of melted caramel. “We like the top of our fudge always to look inviting,” says Witter. In fact, decoration is so important, according to Witter, all new fudge makers receive special training in it.

    In addition, Witter sells what might seem to be an off-season variety during the summer: pumpkin-flavored fudges. That’s because most summer visitors leave after Labor Day. “They’re not here in October, and we have so many great flavors,” she says.

  • Our Daily Bread, Hartville, Ohio

    Our Daily Bread, Hartville, Ohio

    Susan Littell of Our Daily Bread loves to experiment with new flavors, especially during the summer. This year, she’s trying out organic edible flowers, with vanilla cream flavored fudge. “Flower petals are really tasty,” she says. “And they’re just beautiful.”

    But that’s not her only innovation. There’s also Bahama Mama, with orange, pineapple and rum; what she calls a “bridge mix”—cashews, peanuts and hazel nuts with dark chocolate; and a raspberry and chocolate flavor, livened up with a bit of jalapeno. “We just love to play around with ingredients,” she says.

  • Westview Orchards, Romeo, Michigan

    Westview Orchards, Romeo, Michigan

    At Westview, fudge makers use fruit grown at the orchard to create a wide assortment of mixed berry-based flavors. For example, there’s a flavor using dehydrated raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with vanilla fudge and raspberry mash. “It has streaks of red throughout,” says Wesview’s Sarah Haning. “It’s really pretty.”

    Haning makes a special effort to come up with flavors making use of summertime fruits Example: A peach praline, with peach oil and caramel on top, sold in August. “We make the most of the season,” she says.

  • Perry’s Nut House, Belfast, Maine

    Perry’s Nut House, Belfast, Maine

    According to Perry’s Kim O’Brien, the store has quite a number of flavors created for the summer. There’s a banana cream pie, with banana-flavored fudge, as well as what O’Brien calls “a different take on blueberry cheese cake”: an extra amount of cream cheese and jam made from fresh blueberries, swirled to create a deep purple. “People go crazy for it,” she says. A new entry this year is a “chocolate orang-sicle”: chocolate fudge with orange cream and a swirled orange design on top.

    Since summer is a busy season, they also take special steps to involve customers. First, the store often gets too packed to offer every customer a free taste. So, O’Brien’s father will walk around, offering samples. Then, there are games. For example, customers can guess how many items are in a jar and the winner is sent a coupon for a half pound of fudge. An added benefit: When they come back to the store, winners often buy more fudge. “We use fudge as the center of a lot of our activities,” says O’Brien.

  • Bon Bon, Bainbridge Island, Washington

    Bon Bon, Bainbridge Island, Washington

    Bon Bon has a fudge of the month, usually making use of local fruit, says Lisa Dunlap. July features strawberries, for example, and August blackberries. “That’s when blackberries on the island are in full force,” she says.

    In addition, another popular summer-time flavor is dark chocolate with melted caramel in the middle and sea salt on top. “I can’t even keep it in stock it’s so popular,” says Dunlap.

  • Karla, Calico Cottage, Inc.

    Karla, Calico Cottage, Inc.

    Calico’s Master Fudge Maker heats up summer with a decorating technique that’s fun, easy to do and perfect for summer. “Who doesn’t love a day at the beach?” asks Karla. “I wanted to capture that great sensation in a slab of fudge.”

    Karla takes a plain slab of Vanilla Fudge and covers the surface with graham cracker crumbs to simulate sand and adds candy-coated chocolate seashells. Her centerpiece is a starfish that she piped with colored fudge and coated with nonpareils.

    If you can’t find candy-coated chocolate seashells where you purchase your baking or cake decorating supplies, you can order them from Kopper’s Chocolates at www.kopperschocolates.com.

  • Schoolhouse Gallery, Marblehead, Ohio
  • Our Daily Bread, Hartville, Ohio
  • Westview Orchards, Romeo, Michigan
  • Perry’s Nut House, Belfast, Maine
  • Bon Bon, Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • Karla, Calico Cottage, Inc.