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A Sweet Walk in Downtown Corvallis

Handmade donuts are decorated with the toppings of your choice at Benny's in downtown Corvallis, Ore. Photo by Dan Shryock

This article originally appeared on the Visit Corvallis website

By Dan Shryock

Vicky and Vernon delicately slice their confections into small bites, savoring each morsel as if it were their last. The couple makes a point of stopping at Benny’s Donuts for this experience and they intend to relish every sweet moment.

“When you catch them coming hot off the grill – ahh – they’re to die for,” Vernon says of the donuts, grinning and then quickly looking for his next bite.

Benny’s is a mandatory visit each time the Southern Californians return to Corvallis to visit family, Vicky says. It has been since Benny’s opened for business nearly three years ago. Manager Melissa Templeton smiles when she hears this. After all, she just made the donuts to order.

“We hoped we could make something so fantastic that we could be a vacation stop,” she says. “They can taste the difference.”

Anyone searching for sweet tooth satisfaction can stroll downtown Corvallis and find something to savor. If you don’t have a craving for specialty donuts, consider handmade chocolates and sweets at Burst’s Chocolates, a Corvallis institution for 80 years. Or, surrender to la dolce vita with Francesco’s gelato. It’s all within a five-minute walk.

Pick your itinerary based on your taste buds. Benny’s, at 116 NW 3rd St., makes their donuts from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. Each can be adorned with toppings of your own choosing as you watch. The two Californians shared a marionberry donut with rosemary, a maple with sea salt, a lemon lavender with pepper, a chocolate with peanut butter and a cinnamon donut.

Walk south for a block and a half, turn right for another block or so and step into Burst’s Chocolates at 353 SW Madison Ave. Inside the narrow, deep shop are long display cabinets stocked with every chocolate imaginable. Shelves are lined with jars holding even more chocolate plus a few novelty sweets.

The store has been operating since Rhea and Charlie Burst first opened their doors in 1938. Burst’s has been a local tradition for generations of Corvallis residents ever since. Current chocolatier/owner Patrick Magee started working here in 1995 and bought the store a year later.

He offers a sliver of milk chocolate to sample. The rich, smooth flavor transcends the typical store-bought competition. He points out jars of single-source chocolates made with cocoa harvested from individual family farms around the world.

Truffles and ganache are a couple of the most popular sellers, he says. “(Dark chocolate) almond bark, too. We sell a lot of almond bark.”

Now walk three blocks east toward the Willamette River, turn right to 208 Second St. and step into Francesco’s, a lunch spot with a heavy focus on dessert. Gelato, to be precise.

"Gelato" means "ice cream" in Italy but don’t get the two confused. Gelato has more milk than traditional ice cream but less cream and no egg yolks. The result is a silky, smooth flavor. Francecso’s imports its authentic ingredients from Italy – caramel, vanilla, amaretto and tiramisu and more.

And, just like gelato shops in Italy, Francesco’s offers a dizzying selection of flavors from which to choose.

Here’s a tip: Act like an Italian and put more than one flavor in your cup.

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