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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

What's in your Basket? by Fran Joyce


If you have kids and you celebrate Easter, there’s a good chance you’ll be making a few Easter baskets along the way.

Baskets for kids are fairly simple sans any allergies. You’ll need a chocolate bunny, a few Cadbury Crème Eggs, Hershey chocolate eggs or Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Next come the marshmallow peeps and jelly beans and maybe a few Sour Patch Kids or Swedish Fish.

When my sons were little I used to boil a couple dozen eggs and we would sit around the kitchen table laughing as we dipped them into colored water. Sometimes we bought decorating kits and other times we’d just wing it. We’d put rubber bands around the shells or pieces of tape to create stripes or other designs and the boys liked to add some tiny stickers.  

Growing up in Florida I was always paranoid about unrefrigerated foods, especially eggs, so after we finished and the boys had admired their work, the eggs were safely tucked in the refrigerator never to see the inside of an Easter Basket or be hidden for an Easter Egg hunt.

I hid plastic eggs filled with candy or coins and a special treat for each boy. After Easter, I waited patiently for them to empty their baskets, so I could put them and the plastic eggs away for the next year. Sometimes the boys invented games for their empty eggs and each year a few would get smashed, but I’m pretty sure I still have a couple of the originals from my oldest son’s first basket which I just use for decoration now.

When the kids are grown, it doesn’t mean your love of chocolate at Easter has to stop. You can actually be a bit more selective when you’re buying for adults.

There’s a whole world of outstanding chocolate outside of the grocery store candy aisle. I’ve listed three artisan chocolatiers that you might not have heard about. You’ll thank me later.

Recchiuti Confections:

Michael Recchiuti and his wife Jacky founded Recchiuti Confections in 1997 after years of testing recipes for hand-crafted confections using traditional European techniques and carefully sourced ingredients. This San Francisco company offers a variety of delicious treats including:

Almond-Hazelnut Praline Easter Eggs

Artisan chocolates in the following flavors:

Burnt Caramel – smoky caramel blended with a 70% dark chocolate ganache

Force Noir – Silky 70% dark chocolate ganache infused with whole Vanilla beans

Lemon Verbena – Lemon verbena in whole cream blended into a chocolate ganache and covered in semisweet chocolate.

Spring Jasmine Tea – jasmine blossoms and green tea leaves infused in dark chocolate ganache covered in milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate

Colombia Varietal – Single origin Cacao from the San Vicente de Chucuri region of Colombia and balanced with wine and spices

Ecuador Varietal - Single origin Cacao from Ecuador blended with a smoky flavor and a hint of coffee.

Venezuela Varietal – Cacao from the Sur de Lago region of Venezuela with hints of caramel and nuts

Madagascar Varietal – Single origin Criollo cacao from the island of Madagascar with hints of tart cherry and fruity undertones

Bergamot Tea – Bergamot oil and Ceylon tea infused in 70% dark chocolate ganache and enrobed in milk chocolate

Go to to see their full selection.


Zotter Chocolates :

Josef Zotter started his family business in Austria making fine chocolates for chocolate aficionados. In 2015 he opened a small shop in Florida which offers 170 different flavors of chocolate. Single origin chocolates from bean to bar – organic and fair trade beans. Several Vegan Chocolate bars are available.

Hand Scooped Chocolate Bars:

In addition to individual bars, you can order gift sets of assorted bars.

Bacon Bits - Dark Milk Chocolate filled with hazelnut nougat and bacon cracklings

Redcurrant Chilli Rock - Noble Bitter Chocolate filled with currant ganache and chili – Bacon

Cracklings are roasted and caramelized for a nutty flavor plus Hazelnut nougat refined with cinnamon and coated in milk chocolate with 60 % cocoa content.

Zotter Espresso "so dark" - Smart Bitter Chocolate filled with coffee cream - A creamy ganache soaked in strong espresso, brewed with Zotter’s own coffee mixture consisting of Mexican and Columbian Arabica coffee beans.

Typically Austria - Mountain Milk Chocolate filled with grey poppy cream, walnut nougat and cinnamon.

Marc de Champagne – (Contains alcohol) Chocolate with a high cocoa content stirred into a cream with the finest distillate made of champagne from Fleury and soy milk, coated with Noble Bitter Chocolate.

Raspberry - a fruity-pink raspberry ganache made from natural raspberries inside a wafer-thin white chocolate layer and covered in fine dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content.

Red Wine "Salzberg Beerenauslese" - (Contains alcohol) Noble Bitter Chocolate filled with "Salzberg Beerenauslese" red wine ganache and raisins.

Labooko - pure chocolate:

Premium cocoa from the best cocoa regions of the world. For example: Mayan cocoa from Belize or Peruvian cocoa cultivated by indigenes in the middle of the rain forest helping secure the traditional life of the tribes. Plus colorful fruit chocolates and a large selection of vegan chocolate creations. In addition to individual bars, you can order gift sets of assorted bars.


Caramel Milk



Goat’s Milk

Fine White Chocolate

Plus: Single origin chocolate bars made with cocoa from the Congo, Belize Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Panama, Togo, Madagascar, Bolivia and Guatemala ranging from 35% to 100% single sourced cocoa.

Go to to see their full selection.



Founded in San Francisco in 1997 by chocolate connoisseur Robert Steinberg and winemaker John Scharffenberger - The pair wanted to highlight the true flavor of cacao instead of masking it with sugar and other flavors.

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker, America’s first “bean-to-bar” chocolate manufacturer in over 50 years, led this country’s contemporary resurgence in artisan chocolate-making. It was also the first chocolate maker to label their chocolate with the percentage of cacao inside. SCHARFFEN BERGER was acquired by the Hershey Company in 2005, and continues its tradition of crafting authentic, high-quality and flavorful chocolates.

Chocolate Bars:  sold as single bars or in gift sets - also available in tasting squares

41% Extra Rich Milk Chocolate Bar

62% Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate Bar

70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Bar

82% Extra Dark Chocolate Bar

Baking Chocolate:

100% Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Baking Bar

100% Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder

62% Semisweet Dark Chocolate Baking Bar

70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Baking Bar

Visit for more information plus delicious recipes and wine and food pairings.

The images used for this article are for aesthetic purposes only and are not from any specific company.

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