Allentown (NJ) is a sweet little town, made sweeter still by a chocolate shop and a bakery near the intersection of Church (Rte. 526) and Main Streets. I drive right by on my way to and from LBI, and recently noticed a couple of places worth checking out. I returned on a weekday morning, and found easy, free, parking right near the shops I wanted to visit.
Click “more” for a description of these gorgeous bakery items and some delicious chocolates.
As you approach that intersection heading East on Rte. 526, look to the right for Chocolate ‘n’ Dreams with an adjoining Chocolate Lounge, meaning you can buy your treats to go, as I did, or enjoy specialty desserts, fondues, and beverages in the Lounge. The photo here is a sampling of chocolate covered orange peel, caramels topped with sea salt, thin mints (filled with white creme), and a pecan/caramel cluster. And, yes, a whole chili pepper (crisp and fresh, as were the pecans in the cluster) dipped in dark chocolate! Owner Debra Hammond-Ocasio opened her shop about a year ago, and, like me, is a dark chocolate fan. I’m not sure what kind of pepper this was, it was about 3 inches long, and yellowish-green. It was hot, but not searingly so. Maybe some kind of Hungarian Wax? Ms. Hammond-Ocasio also hosts private parties and events, and does wedding planning. She has a wall full of chocolate molds for home cooks who want to make their own, but enthusiastically brought out one of her professional molds to show my friend and me how she makes her products.
To the left, Just around the corner on North Main Street, is the Pasticceria La Preferita, an Italian & American bake shop. Under new ownership for the past year or so, the exterior is really spiffy. Inside, their cases were bursting with colorful cookies and cupcakes, but I honed in on the more traditional Italian items such as (See top photo, clockwise from upper corner): cookies covered with pine nuts or almonds; small Linzer cookies topped with jam, pine nuts, and chocolate drizzle; a huge baba au rhum in a foil cup dripping with rum syrup (just like Lidia Bastianich enjoys on her PBS show!); and a sizeable creation made from puff pastry, drizzled with chocolate, that sort of looks like a double mushroom (the long thing to the left of the baba).
I had also noticed a new Holiday shop near this corner, on Church St., named, fittingly, Holiday on Church. No website it appears, but their phone is 609-259-0067 and they had a lot of Polish-themed and other old-world Christmas items, including lovely glass ornaments. Pretty Polish straw ornaments also caught my eye, and they had some fun Halloween decor, too. This aims to be a holiday store for all seasons.
Sadly, the Black Forest restaurant in town has closed; I was told the historic building was deemed unsafe in light of bridge repairs that are planned right next to it, that could compromise the structure. That was a year or more ago, and the repairs haven’t even started yet. Their German food was quite good, and I know they’re missed.