By: Victoria Hanson
According to a recent New York Times article, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that adults who eat chocolate more often tend to have lower body mass indexes than those who don’t. Researchers aren’t yet quite sure why this is, though it is speculated that antioxidants may act as a boost to our metabolism. This new finding goes along well with other recent discoveries that have been made about the health benefits related to chocolate.
Through research it has been discovered that chocolate (mostly dark chocolate) contains something called flavonoids, or pigments that are often found in fruits and vegetables, which act as antioxidants. Those antioxidants then help contribute to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Chocolate has also been found to increase our serotonin levels (the anti-depressant chemicals in our body), as well as our production of endorphins, which help to boost our mood.
These health benefits are great news to all of you dessert lovers out there. Having a large sweet tooth myself, I figured this was the perfect time to explore the sweeter side of the southern NH area. Here are a few nearby spots that cater to the inner sweet tooth in all of us. So go ahead—indulge!
Byrne & Carlson Chocolatier
121 State Street
Portsmouth, NH, 03801
This cozy little brick building is one that should not be overlooked. Like most things in Portsmouth, its small size comes with great character and the promise of timeless quality. Byrne & Carlson is a delicious chocolatier and confectioner that offer beautifully crafted chocolates and candies. Founded in 1999, the chocolates have always been hand crafted and easily considered pieces of art.
With a taste that satisfies both locals and visitors alike, Byrne & Carlson has succeeded in creating confections with natural and unique ingredients. Their artisan bars are artfully decorated with nuts, dried fruit, flower petals, and other touches of nature to add wonderful color and taste to each bite. Their tasting bars reflect tastes from places all over the world and range from sweet, to salty, to a hint of spice (chipotle anyone?). They also offer truffles, as well as boxes, that can be pre-made or hand-selected.
Byrne & Carlson is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Because this is a high-quality chocolate shop, the prices are also a little high, but well worth it for both the taste and quality. I recommend trying out their pieces inspired by French confiseries. The pairing of smooth chocolate with dried fruit or flowers may sound off to some chocolate lovers in the states, but makes for sensational taste and is extremely similar to those offered in France. For even more information and some great eye candy, visit their website at http://www.byrneandcarlson.com/index.html.
Queen City Cupcakes
790 Elm St
Manchester, NH, 03101
Thanks to the current onslaught of cupcake shows on TLC and The Food Network, I’ve been craving for a taste of the creative concoctions. Luckily, on my last trip to Manchester, I got to satisfy my craving. Queen City Cupcakes is a fairly new addition to the busy downtown area of Manchester. Located on Elm Street it’s a short walk away from the Verizon Wireless Arena and already wildly popular. It is a family owned business that joined the Manchester community in May of 2011. They have been featured in many newspapers and news stations, including ABC News and Channel 9 WMUR. They were originally so popular that their lines extended out the shop door and all the way down the street’s sidewalk. Since then they have accommodated the public with longer hours and more cupcakes.
I visited the bakery during a weekday and did not have to wait in line at all. Although I choked a little at the cash register (a single cupcake costs $3.50 plus tax), I wasn’t disappointed. I sampled one of their signature cupcakes, known as the 5 Layer, which consist of “a graham cracker cupcake frosted with vanilla buttercream, sprinkled with coconut and butterscotch chips and drizzled in chocolate.” A friend of mine tried their Red Velvet with a cream cheese frosting. Both were moist, flavorful, and very sweet.
Their four other signature flavors are the Sweet N Salty (Ritz crackers, peanut butter, chocolate, butter cream frosting), Rice Krispies Treat (vanilla cupcake, marshmallow butter cream, frosted Rice Krispies, and chocolate), Joy of Almond (toasted almond cupcake, almond and coconut topping, and chocolate) and Drumstick (brown sugar cupcake, vanilla frosting, crushed waffle cone, peanuts, and chocolate). The bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until they sell out, which is typically around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, which is good to keep in mind. Because they do all of their baking from scratch right inside of the store, which is on the small side, they are limited in the number of cupcakes they can produce in a day. Their specials change daily and are posted to their Facebook page, so check them out!
Stonehouse Baking Company
46 Calef Highway
Route 125 Barrington, NH, 03825
Stonehouse Baking Company is one of my all-time personal favorites. As a third generation family owned business it caters directly to its customers in a friendly and personal way. Denis St. Pierre, the owner of the bakery, got his passion for baking from his grandfather who originally opened up the business in Portsmouth during the Great Depression.
The bakery is best known for its amazing donuts. I have gone out of my way on several occasions to visit right as it opens to get a freshly baked Maple Cream donut. Their donuts are made from scratch, and like all of the other pastries in the shop, are baked fresh daily. They offer a variety of pastries, including Danishes, Croissants, Strudels, Turnovers, Muffins, Cookies, and Brownies made from Lindt Chocolate. They also bake many different flavors of cakes, pies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and bread. The bakery is always brewing a fresh selection of coffee and even makes fresh sandwiches, Paninis, and smoothies during lunch. They are currently working to expand their menu even further.
The inside of the bakery is small but there is seating, Wi-Fi, and it always smells amazing. The price ranges are extremely reasonable (some things costing just under a dollar) and they do take credit cards. They are open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you want one of those fresh donuts make sure you get there early as they tend to go quickly! You can check out their website at http://www.stonehousebaking.com/index.html to get a better idea of exactly what their menu has to offer. The trip will be well worth it!