Owner dishes up decadent, high-quality chocolates

- photo by Rachael Palinkas/Photo Editor

Kelly Copeland

Tucked in the back corner of the Orchards Bistro restaurant on Third Street sits a little chocolate shop featuring treats sweet enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

Chocolate covered honey caramels, hazelnut butter toffees and Rocky Road candies are among many
decadent concoctions that fill owner Dana Dooley’s shelves at Honest Chocolates.

Dooley opened the shop in November 2004, but was making chocolates long before the grand opening. A former technology executive, Dooley attended cooking classes and made chocolate in her free time. She considered it to be just a hobby until she and her husband lost their jobs in 2000.

“Instead of going back to that industry, we decided we would pursue our passions,” Dooley said.

She and her husband moved to McMinnville. She began to open her business, and her husband broke into the wine industry.

Dooley said her mission is to make top quality chocolate that tastes great at an affordable price. She said her creations contain all-natural products, with no artificial sweeteners in sight.

All of her treats are either modified versions of recipes she has used in the past, her own inventions, or in one case, the tasty result of a product mishap. The chocolate brickle bark is a direct result of one of these small disasters, when the honeycomb candy crumbled in the dipping process.

The honeycomb sea foam is the most difficult sweet treat to make, Dooley said. Because it is extremely fragile, the humidity and temperature of the dipping chocolate must be perfect, or it will cause the candy to crumble.

Dooley said the most popular item in her shop is Rocky Road, a traditional item. Made with homemade marshmallows, walnuts or almonds and dark or milk chocolate, she said this delectable delight flies off the shelf.

In addition to pleasing the consumers who walk into her store, Dooley creates custom treats for schools, organizations and local businesses. She has developed special chocolates for a local bed and breakfast, the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce and local wineries. She frequently makes wine-tasting chocolates specifically designed to be paired with different types of wines.

The shelves inside Honest Chocolates are always brimming with new and delicious chocolates, waiting to be gobbled up by the next customer. Each chocolate is handmade by Dooley or one of her employees, and quality is guaranteed every time.

“I really feel strongly that it has to taste good before it goes into (my) case,” Dooley said.

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