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With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

The best-selling sweet treats in the Hunter Valley

​Cocoa Nib

It's all about variety at Cocoa Nib, which opened at Keith Tulloch Wine in 2014, with more than 40 sugary enticements on offer.

The woman behind the chocolate emporium, Aymee Slaviero, is a pastry chef by trade and worked her way around some of the top restaurants in Sydney before moving to Melbourne and working at Koko Black while completing a Diploma of Confectionary Manufacturing at William Angliss Institute.

"We have more than 40 different products in store as well as a selection of cakes, tarts and cookies to have with coffee (we use Silverskin Coffee, a local roaster)," she says. "Our most popular sweet treat would be our Macadamia Butter Crunch but our housemade deluxe hot chocolate is also a big hit.

"Although I do favour our chocolate bonbons – they are a true labour of love and take a couple of days to make, all hand-painted or air-brushed, moulded with a thin shell of chocolate and filled with a chocolate ganache or crunchy cookie or jelly or all three!" 


​Sabor Dessert Bar

There's no seven-year itch for owners Fernando and Renata Antao – they're still very much in love with their sweet spot in the Hunter. "We took a gamble and moved to the Hunter from Sydney in August 2011, opening the Hunter Valley's first-ever dessert bar, and we're still going strong and loving what we do," Fernando says.

And who wouldn't. The couple takes their craft seriously – taste-testing each and every one of the 50 desserts on the menu, along with the Hunter Valley wines to go with each dessert! It's not just the award-winning Portuguese chocolate mousse that pulls the crowds here, the sticky date pudding with a butterscotch schnapps from Hunter Distillery and vanilla bean panna cotta with a Peterson House bubbly are also big sellers. But Fernando's favourite is the Raspberry Macaron Heaven with strawberries mousse and raspberries with a glass of Muscat of Alexandria Moscato. Nom nom.


​Cupcake Espresso

In addition to classic flavours available every day, like red velvet and triple chocolate, this cupcakery offers a surprise flavour every week.

"We currently have a menu of 18 cupcakes, including gluten-free, and a new surprise flavour every week from Thursday to Sunday," says owner Danielle Parker."Our most popular flavour at the moment would be the caramel tart closely followed by the Mars Bar cheesecake," she adds.

The Cupcake Espresso brand started out in Newcastle around seven years ago and due to a demand in the Valley for specialty bakes opened another shop in the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village in 2017.

"While we aren't professional bakers – we employ a team of energetic and creative staff who bring our creations to life – we're avid home bakers and over-enthusiastic foodies who are obsessed with cupcakes," Danielle explains.

"The team at Bakery HQ in Adamstown is led by Brendan who has a passion for all things cake. He has an amazing eye for detail and loves to keep up with all the current cake trends. The team of five bakers and decorators is dedicated to handcrafting each individual creation."

So which cute confection is her favourite?

"My favourite is the good old-fashioned lemon meringue. The gooey lemon centre topped off with the gorgeous sugar hit of the meringue is to die for."


​The Stick Pastry Kitchen

Jessica Boutard and Phillip Bowtell are passionate about pastry... in all its forms. The husband and wife team behind The Stick, which is brand new to Pokolbin, opening in July this year, decided to create a new venture after the sweet success of their first shop, The Icky Sticky Patisserie in Maitland.

Their concept is simple: "do what we do best… pastry in all its forms". They offer a wide variety of beautifully crafted items all made fresh that morning on site. "You can't go past a fresh croissant made with painstaking care and absolute precision, over a three-day period," says Jessica.

The menu is seasonal so you can expect both sweet and savoury with light brunch and lunch options such as filled croissants, quiche or pies and light salads.

With more than 10 years' experience in patisserie, owner and pastry chef Phillip Bowtell likes to keep improving his skills so there is always something new on the menu, from the perfect choux pastry with single origin chocolate éclairs to the rosewater and white chocolate mousse and berry panna cotta tart. After all, "there is always room for dessert and a coffee," says Phillip.


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