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Local confectioners offer lavish chocolates for Valentine’s Day and beyond

Chocolate has long been associated with romance and love, most likely dating all the way back to the Aztecs, who believed that if they consumed this luscious liquid of love, their sexuality, wisdom and vitality would be enhanced. Today, no other holiday enjoys a greater affiliation with this sensual, sumptuous and sinful pleasure than does Valentine’s Day. Smooth, seductive and luxurious, chocolate evokes feelings and thoughts of romance, pleasure, bliss and even ecstasy. After all, the scientific name for the tree from which chocolate is derived, Theobroma cacao, translated from Greek, means “food of the gods,” and, hey, who are we to argue with “the gods”? Richard Cadbury has been credited with creating the first known heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day, back in 1861. While fine chocolates can be found at specialty supermarkets and gourmet food shops, go the extra mile this year and visit one of our local confectioners. I’m certain that your effort won’t go unrewarded!

nol_jan08_medres_page_46_image_0001.jpgBittersweet Confections
5331 Canal Blvd., 450-3149. www.bittersweetconfections.com
Some of the most divinely decadent and addictive truffles around are made by confectioner extraordinaire Cheryl Scripter, who recently opened her first storefront. Cheryl has sold her brilliant handmade chocolates at farmers’ markets (she will still offer her goodies every Saturday at the Crescent City Farmers Market from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.) and several retail shops around town for years. But now you can satisfy your sweet tooth Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with one of her exquisite all-natural truffles, hand-dipped strawberries, handmade caramels or her signature bittersweet chocolate drink that’s served hot or cold. And, with 16 distinctly delicious truffle flavors, including mango, mocha, praline, cocoa and pistachio, all of which start with Esprit des Alpes Swiss chocolate, finished in eight unique flavors and textures (raspberry powder, white chocolate shavings, croquants and cocoa to name a few) that’s 128 unique varieties! Need a gift? Scripter elegantly packages her truffles in various size options, so they are ready to give in an instant. Fresh homemade cookies and milk will be available, as will King Cakes (seasonal), red velvet cake, strawberry shortcake and a flourless chocolate cake. If you’re looking for something guaranteed to wow your family and friends, then ask for her Truffle Party Bars.

nol_jan08_medres_page_46_image_0002.jpgSucre
3025 Magazine St, 520-8311. www.shopsucre.com
Led by pastry chef Tariq Hanna, Sucre dubs itself “an emporium of ‘artisan’ sweets” and that it is. From glorious gelatos and petit pastries to confections and artisanal chocolates, you’re sure to feel like a kid in a gourmet candy store as soon as you step inside this uniquely delicious dessert shop and sweet boutique. Located on Magazine Street, Sucre’s adorable pastelcolored packaging and baby-shower mint walls scream “eat me!” While Sucre does offer an array of savory items, it’s the variety of glorious sweets that will send you into sugar-sensory overload. Among the delectable discoveries in this veritable candyland are white chocolates infused with Earl Grey tea, a ganache finished with fresh banana and a hint of rum, and a PB&J made with strawberry jam layered with peanut butter ganache. Dark chocolate selections include the bold and exotic flavors of Chinese five spice, the tang of lime or passion fruit or classic squares of Bolivian chocolate caramel. Milk chocolate lovers will rejoice with the Magnolia (pecan ganache finished with a southern pecan half) or the Saigon, tastefully accented with Vietnamese cinnamon. If you’re nuts about nuts, check out Sucre’s selection of nut-laden chocolates, including milk chocolate cashew, dark chocolate almonds and Sucre bark studded with roasted nuts, dried fruits and dusted with sea salt. The gift collections are beautifully wrapped and sure to please. Sucre is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight, so you can satisfy your cravings no matter when they strike. You can also host a private party at Sucre, from wedding showers to children’s birthday parties.

nol_jan08_medres_page_46_image_0003.jpgBlue Frog Chocolates
5707 Magazine St., 269-5705. www.bluefrogchocolates.com
Since 2000, this Uptown favorite has been a sweet lover’s dream come true. Bursting with a bevy of heavenly delights from around the world, from the Belgium liquor-filled chocolates and Truffettes de France, by French chocolate maker CHOCMOD, to the charming Italian Candy Flowers, Blue Frog boasts international flavors but in an utterly New Orleans style. Owners Ann and Rick Streiffer exude passion for and knowledge of their beloved confections, and the couple enjoys nothing more than seeing the smile that each sweet treat puts on the face of every customer. Whether you are searching for organic chocolate from England, chocolate Mardi Gras doubloons or a goggle-eyed blue frog (made from white chocolate) your sugary hunt is sure to end here with a treasure trove of bonbons. Serious chocolate lovers won’t want to miss the exquisitely designed and delicious soft-centered Joseph Schmidt truffles made from Belgian chocolate and fresh cream in 30 mouthwatering flavors or the elegant and divine collection from Michel Cluizel of Normandy. Check out the local collection that includes New Orleans water meter milk chocolate coins, chocolate voodoo dolls and, of course, a chocolate Louisiana alligator. Stimulate your Valentine with one of their sugary sensual gifts, such as chocolate body frosting and even a strip chocolate board game. Blue Frog also offers non-edible gifts for the chocoholic, chocolate-filled gift baskets, custom photos chocolates, gourmet flavored cocoas, Italian candy flower arrangements and customized event favors.