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Here Comes the Cacao

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It doesn't have a great glass elevator or Everlasting Gobstoppers, but Steph's Chocolate Shop and factory at Camp Meade in Middlesex, owned by granola maven "Nutty" Steph Rieke, offers tasty treats galore. The retail shop where Rieke sells her sweets Wednesday through Saturday opened last week. It's in the same building as the Red Hen Baking Company and Café, right off I-89's Exit 9.

In addition to her line of chocolates, which she hopes to expand to 99 flavors in the near future, Rieke offers the ingredients she uses to make her fruity and nutty confections - such as dried cherries, pistachios and guava paste - by the pound. "I'm finding all kinds of amazing sources . . . and picking out all the craziest stuff," she remarks. Customers spoon them out of apothecary jars and weigh their finds on an old-fashioned scoop scale. Fans of Steph's cereal can also purchase 5-pound packages of granola at the wholesale price.

Although she's churning out the chocolate, Rieke isn't supplying many stores. Why not? "I want people to come here and get it."

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