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Photography by Kate Munsch
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When did the Easter basket become the vernal equivalent of a Christmas stocking? And do kids really want things beyond Cadbury Creme Eggs and a Reese's? Well, maybe not, but if we stock the baskets with things that are a little more sophisticated, maybe they'll share.
Truly, Easter may be more of a big day for chocolatiers than Valentine's Day. At least the opportunities for imaginative visuals are wider. And locally, our options are pretty great.
For instance, slip away to Crown Candy Kitchen and after a banana malt fotifies you for the difficult decisions, mull over rabbits riding an antique motorscooter (many of their molds are antiques) or a spotted cow. Or dogs or an elephant, a frog, or several others beyond the many bunnies. A majority of these are in milk chocolate (see below), as seems to have always been the Easter tradition, but there are some in dark.
If all the jokes about eating the ears off a chocolate rabbit cause glances in your direction, you may be lucky enough to find extra ears at Kakao Chocolate. If a rabbit, their charming modern version (below), doesn't come out of the mold absolutely perfect, the chocolate is remolded - but not until after the ears are removed, placed in a small bag and set aside for retail shoppers. Irregularly available but very popular. Eggs of housemade marshmallow and caramel, too, in both dark and milk chocolates. Be aware that many of Kakao's sophisticated options are aimed more at adult Easter baskets - like ours.
Ears, too, at Bissinger's, and there, too, they're popular enough that supplies seem to be irregular. These, however, are from a mold and, bonus points, can be had as milk or dark. But the most charming offering, a difficult choice among the piles of possibilities, is the white chocolate lamb lollypop (above).
There's a larger lamb, sans stick, but there's something about a little lamb, whether or not your name is Mary. Strong bursts of nostalgia looking at the small milk chocolate eggs covered in pastel foil, bringing on visions of the old downtown Famous-Barr's candy department and nibbling on them while waiting for a concert at Kiel Auditorium. (Fats Domino and LaVerne Baker, if you're asking.) Just as memorable: Chocolate-covered Oreos (below) with Easter decorations.
Speaking of foil-covered chocolate eggs, don't miss the larger and brilliantly colored ones at Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate. Each color marks a different flavor, like the squiggle on top of a piece of chocolate candy. The company is now using only Fair Trade certified chocolate as well as Fair Trade certified sugar. Carrots for your Easter bunnies can be had as foil-covered chocolate ones, or the carrot cake truffles. And don't forget their new line of boxed chocolates, like sea salt popcorn bites. Tours of the chocolate-making at their operation near I-44 and Kingshighway make a good excuse for shopping, too - advance reservations, please. Now if we can find some particularly yummy grass for that basket....