Seventy percent of the millions of pounds of candy purchased for Easter is chocolate, according to a recent survey.
Most of that chocolate is mass-produced bunnies and eggs. Not that there's anything wrong with, say, a Lindt bunny or Reese's peanut butter egg. We've nibbled he ears off many a drugstore bunny.
But Central New York's artisan chocolate makers are busy at work on hand-crafted, once-a-year treats to fill Easter baskets, gift bags and boxes. So, hop to it and buy some LOCAL chocolate!
The shops included below produce chocolate on a relatively small scale. Shop early for best selection.
Know of other local shops with excellent Easter chocolate? Let me know in the Comments section, below.
Chocolate Pizza Co.: Too pretty to eat? Not a chance. The crew at this Marcellus-based candy maker has been busy crafting one-of-a-kind Swirled Eggs, among other things. Also available for Easter: chocolate-dipped Peeps, decorated Chocolate Pizza slices, bunnies in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate and more.
Speach Family Candy Shoppe: The family-owned business on the North Side of Syracuse offers molded chocolate bunnies, chicks, sheep, lambs, eggs and flowers, among other things, as well as peanut butter eggs, gift baskets and a wide selection of nostalgic candies.
Not all items may be available in the case at all times, so it's a good idea to call ahead if you're looking for something specific.
Peanut butter eggs, photo courtesy of Speach Family Candy Shoppe
Lune Chocolat: Your headquarters in Manlius for Easter ooh-la-la and WOW! has a wide range of bunnies, chicks and eggs in milk chocolate, 60 percent dark chocolate and white chocolate. A five-piece Easter pack includes a "cotton tail," which is coconut and a carrot cake truffle. Shop owners Michael and Emily Woloszyn are repeating last year's best-selling egg: a hand-painted chocolate egg stuffed with peanut butter and potato chips. They also will have have eggs just for adults, filled with bourbon ganache. Yup - bourbon ganache. "Easter doesn't have to be just for kids,'' Mike Woloszyn says.
Hercules Candy Co.: Hopping bunnies, crouching bunnies, bunnies with packs, bunnies bearing baskets, rabbits standing tall and ready to serve as centerpieces - Hercules Candy in East Syracuse covers all the bunny bases for Easter. You'll also find bunny lollipops, lamb lollipops made of white chocolate, chocolate and white chocolate crosses, Happy Easter candy bars and molded chocolate baskets holding chocolate bunnies. No awkward Easter basket grass sticking to everything and no waste - you gotta love that.
Stone's Homemade Candy Shop: The family-owned candy shop in Oswego features the usual chocolate bunnies, but what sets it apart are the hand-made, cream-filled eggs: coconut cream, maple cream, vanilla cream, peanut butter cream. You'll also find Easter baskets wrapped in cellophane and ready to go and pretty, pastel-colored French Creams: bite-sized crystallized sugar candies (mint and fruit flavors) with a smooth and creamy center.
Cream eggs from Stone's Homemade Candy
Whisper Chocolate: Jelly Bean Bark? Road trip to Geneva, anyone?! Whisper Chocolate is noted for its lineup of truffles in outrageous flavors, but shop owners Linda and Jasmine Mead like to have fun with Easter chocolate, too. For the holiday bark, they sprinkle Jelly Belly jelly beans on Belgian milk chocolate and French dark chocolate. They also make bunnies in milk, dark and white chocolate and offer made-up baskets including chocolate bunnies, chocolate-dipped Peeps and Jelly Bean Bark. "Folks love to give our Easter baskets as hostess gifts,'' head chocolate maker Jasmine Mead says.
Bunny and egg alternative: Truffles, courtesy of Whisper Chocolate, Geneva
Sweet on Chocolate: Sure, Easter is about the chocolate bunny. And chocolate eggs. And chocolate chicks. And chocolate EVERYTHING.
Sweet on Chocolate, in Armory Square, has all the usual Easter offerings. Another way to say Happy Easter is with an elegant box of truffles or filled chocolates, or a mixed selection from the case, like chocolate covered marshmallows and/or graham crackers, chocolate nut clusters, barks, etc.
Lime truffles, photo courtesy of Sweet on Chocolate