Artisanal chocolates, delectable truffles, hand-spun caramels: These five Kansas City chocolatiers make tempting handmade treats and gifts that could stand in for works of art. Some also serve authentic European espresso and excellent drinking chocolate. One, in particular, offers lovely café-style meals as well. Stock up on some of these beauties to take home or give away, but don't be surprised if they don't last long.
It would be easy to mistake the colorful gems inside Christopher Elbow's display cases for tiny little masterpieces. The famed chef masterfully combines unusual flavors (champagne, bananas Foster, tequila lime) and chic designs to create truly gift-worthy chocolates. When you visit his sleek shop, try an espresso or hot chocolate.
Panache used to be a staple of the Country Club Plaza, but it has since moved to Park Place in Leawood to continue its four decades of chocolate making. Fill up on handcrafted milk or dark chocolate bars, bonbons, and truffles; chocolate-covered Oreos; molded Colombian chocolates; and caramel chocolate "Poppo" (dark chocolate–drenched caramel popcorn). Curate a selection yourself or pick from one of the shop's exquisite black boxes with gold lettering and satin ribbons.
Bizz & Weezy makes chocolates of many stripes, but it's the smooth, creamy caramel filling that people come back for time and again. The treat is undeniably the best in the city and goes well with all those artisanal chocolate barks, bars, truffles, and huge turtles with cashews, almonds, pecans and, of course, caramel (the house specialty). The fancifully designed chocolate-covered Oreos are the perfect gift by themselves or as a featured product in a Bizz & Weezy gift basket. The owners of this gem even teach about chocolate making and chocolate painting, so you can be sure they're the masters about town.
André's Confiserie Suisse is a family-owned chocolaterie and bakery that has been a Kansas City institution for more than 50 years. Order a chocolate dobosh torte (a seven-layer cake covered in ganache) for your next party or stock up on pretty boxes of European-style dark and milk chocolate truffles. An excellent souvenir is the pastel-colored macarons or a set of chocolates in the shapes of Kansas City landmarks. Its two locations, in Kansas City and Overland Park, are also tearooms with full café menus.
Drugstore favorite Russell Stover began churning out chocolates in 1923 when Mrs. Stover started selling her high-quality, handmade sweets out of a bungalow in Denver. Now, those assortments are made in four manufacturing facilities, including one in Kansas City, where the famous candy company is based. The company has changed hands over the years—going from privately-owned to publicly-owned and back to private—and it acquired several other candy brands along the way. The renowned, high-quality Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli bought out Russel Stover Candies and its Whitman's Candies in 2014.