Amy’s Candy Kitchen, Cedarburg, Wis.
Just from the title alone, you can tell that this one was a required stop as soon as we heard about it. Before every trip that Amy and I take, the two of us undergo an extensive search of the city we plan to visit to figure out what attractions we want to experience during our visit. Sometimes, the decision is made for us, such as when we saw Taylor Swift in Detroit after enjoying some incredible barbecue. That was the case here again, as we came to Milwaukee to experience GermanFest. But sometimes, we have time to go out of our way to experience something that shouldn’t be missed if you’re anywhere near it.
Located in the old town shopping center of Cedarburg, Amy’s Candy Kitchen definitely qualifies. Cedarburg is exactly what you would expect an old-time small town to look like, and it’s definitely not a place where you would expect to find anything remotely famous. But when you’re really good at what you do, location doesn’t really matter, and when it comes to chocolate, caramel and apples, Amy’s has proven to be as good as it gets.
Over the past 17 years, Amy’s has combined a commitment to quality with a flair for the aesthetics and a knack for combining flavors to create some of the sweetest tastes possible. Only the finest ingredients make it on to Amy’s shelves, as the store imports its chocolate from Belgium, uses no preservatives in its chocolates and uses real Wisconsin dairy to make its caramel. As I’ve often said, the less time something has to travel to its final destination, the better it’s going to be in the food world. Given that Wisconsin is king in the dairy world, it only makes sense to take advantage of that location.
The result is some of the most amazing chocolates you’ll find anywhere, and definitely some of the best in the Midwest. As soon as you step in, a brightly-colored display of candies greets you, with dark, milk and white chocolate mixed with several flavors scattered throughout the display case. Homemade fudge and other treats, such as chocolate-covered cookies, are found here, and Amy and I each had to sample something.
As usual, chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that is almost irresistible for me, so I opted for a dark chocolate square with peanut butter flavoring inside, which proved incredible. The peanut butter filling is so light that it’s almost like nougat, and the flavors work ridiculously well together. I love dark chocolate, and this bit was exquisite. You really can’t ask for much more.
Amy opted to try two of the kitchen’s specialties in one piece, going with milk chocolate caramel bark. This was also pretty darn awesome, as the caramel flows wonderfully and pairs so well with the chocolate. Again, an excellent choice.
But the real reason to come to Amy’s isn’t behind those display cases by the cash register. Actually, the real reason is on the opposite side of the store, where Amy’s array of giant chocolate caramel apples awaits. These apples have such a reputation that the Wall Street Journal called them the best candy apples in the country, and that’s quite an honor. This was the whole reason we had made the trip to Cedarburg, and it was time to try the famous treat.
Deciding which one to try, however, proved complicated. The apples all start the same way, with a giant Granny Smith apple that clocks in at a diameter of 4.5 inches. Most apples are nowhere close to that size, so you’re looking at something pretty huge. Just to hold the thing together, they have to use a special double enforced hardwood stick. That says you’re dealing with one pretty jumbo apple right there.
From there, the apples are dipped in caramel, and then the fun really begins, as Amy’s features at least 50 different kinds of apples, using three different kinds of chocolate and plenty of toppings as options. Choices include things such as peanut butter chips, M&Ms, sprinkles, Oreos, nuts and even cayenne and cinnamon for an Aztec flavor. Seriously, if you can’t find something you like here, something’s wrong with your taste buds.
Having already opted for chocolate and peanut butter, it was time for me to go with my other favorite sweet flavor: English toffee. I absolutely love Heath bars, and with the chance to get a gourmet apple covered in the bits of Heath, I knew that it was something that I could not pass up trying. It proved to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life, because of how well the flavors mesh together. The caramel is VERY sweet, but it’s perfectly tempered by the tartness of the Granny Smith apple. If you try eating just the caramel and chocolate, you’re not going to last all that long because it will be too sweet after a while. But with the apple balancing it out, it becomes simple perfection. With the bits of toffee adding to the dimensions, it was one incredible experience.
Amy went for simple on her apple, choosing a mix of milk and white Belgian chocolate. Just like with my apple, the blend of sweet and tart was incredible. The rich chocolate shines without other toppings just as much as it melds with the available options, and the flavors are perfect with each other. One great thing here is that you can get each apple cut for you (because jumbo apples are a bit unwieldy), so that you can take a couple of pieces at a time. The cut apple is then packaged in its own bronze-colored box, a fitting presentation for something as awesome as this.
Cedarburg isn’t exactly the easiest destination to reach, as you’ve got to go a little bit out of your way from Interstate 43 to get there. But the drive northwest of Milwaukee is totally worth it for these apples. No matter what your preference is, the combination of sweet caramel, rich chocolate and tart apples is something that shouldn’t be missed.
Time to go: Amy’s is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. most days, so anytime is a good time to visit.
Wait during my visit: None. It’s Cedarburg and it’s a candy store, so waits won’t be long.
Location: Be careful here. Amy’s is listed at being on W62N579 Washington Street in Cedarburg, Wis. If you search on Google, though, it will tell you it’s on 6725 Commerce Court in Cedarburg. That is actually the address for Amy’s corporate offices, not its store. We made that mistake and just barely made it to Amy’s before closing. Do not go to Commerce Court.
Cost: Gourmet apples don’t come cheap, and neither does chocolate or caramel of this quality. You can expect to pay about $11 an apple. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Parking: Not much. Cedarburg is an old-time neighborhood, but it does have a few parking lots. Find the closest one and make the short walk.
Seating arrangement: None. There isn’t room for them to put any seats or tables in there.
Website: Amy’s Candy Kitchen. The site operates as Amy’s Gourmet Apples, which is the name used for their service that allows you to buy apples online. You’ll pay a little more to get the apples shipped to your door.
Specialty items: Gourmet caramel apples