A Sweet Shop - Midland's Elegant Gourmet specializes in chocolaty treats.
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What's the best part about working in a chocolate shop?
According to Susan Canning of the Elegant Gourmet in downtown Midland, it's the enticing sweet aroma that greets you when you walk through the door. “I never get tired of that delicious smell of chocolate, caramel and freshly baked fudge,” says the business owner, with a smile. “It's just so awesome.”
Satisfying many a sweet tooth for almost 20 years, the Elegant Gourmet serves up truffles, chocolates, creamy fudge and more. “We use only the best Belgian chocolate and all of our fudge, chocolates and truffles are handmade on-site using traditional methods,” explains Canning, who owns and operates the business with her husband, Glen.
“I spend lots of days up to my elbows in chocolate,” she chuckles. “It's so much fun creating all of the scrumptious treats.”
Getting into the chocolate and confection business was originally Canning's mother-in-law's idea. “When Glen and I moved to Midland in 1995, Glen's mom (Alice Canning, who has since passed away) decided we should open a business together,” she explains. “Since Glen is a total chocoholic and loves to create treats, we decided it was the perfect match. So we opened up shop and the rest is history.”
All beautifully displayed in glass cases, the sweet shop's top selling items include: chocolate covered butter tarts (giant and mini sizes); macaroons; oatmeal chocolate chip muffins; killer brownies (see recipe on page 62); homemade chocolate peanut butter cups; cowboy bark; chocolate covered almond clusters; Celtic caramels (homemade caramels dipped in chocolate and topped with sea salt); sweet and salty pretzel rods covered with caramel and cashews or English toffee covered in chocolate and gourmet truffles.
“The truffles sell like crazy,” says the shopkeeper. “We have about 12 varieties, and we are always coming up with new flavours, like Mexican with cinnamon and a hint of spice. We even do a whiskey truffle. But our number one best seller is the triple chocolate truffle, followed by milk and then dark chocolate.”
And then there's the fudge.
“Some of our fudge flavours are hilarious,” chuckles Canning. Along with the classics, fun flavours include root beer, bubblegum, water melon, sour green apple, raspberry lemonade and so on.”
With more than 60 rotating fudge flavours available, many of the recipes are seasonal, including candy cane and eggnog for the holidays as well as pumpkin for the fall. “Our most popular fudge flavours are maple, maple walnut, death by fudge and chewy praline.”
Even chocolate pizza is available. Just imagine. A whole chocolate pizza topped with English toffee, mint, sprinkles or nuts! “We package them up in a pizza box, so they are fun to take to a dinner party for dessert.”
The specialty shop also sells premium ice cream and freshly made waffle cones, cappuccino, espresso, specialty lattes, freshly brewed fair trade organic coffees and premium teas. Gluten-free items and vegan chocolate bars are also on offer. Unique gifts, gourmet foods, and home decor items also line the shelves. The Elegant Gourmet also has a full service Internet cafe.
As a longtime downtown Midland business owner, the local sweet shop likes to give back. Profits from the Elegant Gourmet's chocolate truffle mountains are donated year-round to children's charities, including the local toy drive and Midland's We are The Villagers (wearethevillagers.com). The chocolate truffle mountains, made by Canning's 13-year-old son, Matthew, are truffles dipped in chocolate and topped with plenty of sprinkles. They sell for $2.50.    
Working with chocolate day in and day out, Canning says she never tires of the creamy and decadent treat. “I just love the stuff. And the chocolate covered spoons are my absolute favourite.”


KILLER BROWNIES
(Recipe courtesy of the Elegant Gourmet)

“Killer Brownies are a family favourite and perfect for taming the wildest sweet tooth,” says Sue Canning of the Elegant Gourmet in Midland. “They take a long time to make and require considerable patience to get them just right. You might as well put your diet on hold for the day, because Killer Brownies are gooey, sweet, sinful and infinitely satisfying! When it comes down to it, what more could you want from a brownie?”

2 cups caramels, unwrapped
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package 2 layer chocolate cake mix with pudding
1/2 cup melted butter
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Over low heat, melt  caramels  with 1/3 cup evaporated milk, stirring until smooth (set aside).
In medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup evaporated milk, cake mix and melted butter, mix well.
Press half of cake mix into the bottom of a greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350F oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, cool for approximately 10 minutes. Sprinkle cake with 1 cup walnuts or pecans and 1 cup chocolate chips. Top with melted caramel, spreading to edges. Cover with spoonfuls of remaining cake mixture pressing gently into caramel. Sprinkle remaining walnuts or pecans over top pressing lightly. 
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Cool slightly and cut into bars (leave in pan). Refrigerate until pan no longer feels warm, preferably overnight. Remove bars from cake pan and ENJOY!!
Makes 16 brownies.

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