Artisanal chocolates, delectable truffles, hand-spun caramels: The sweets scene in Kansas City includes chocolatiers who make tempting handmade treats and gifts that could stand in for works of art. But many of Kansas City's mainstays go beyond boxes of chocolates, offering extras that range from authentic European espresso and excellent drinking chocolate to café-style meals. Stock up on some of these beauties to take home or give away, but don't be surprised if they don't last long.
Christopher Elbow Chocolates
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, banana lime rum, yuzu mandarin) and chic designs to create truly gift-worthy chocolates. When you visit his sleek shop, try an espresso or hot chocolate.
Panache Chocolatier and Café
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 Confections
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 the house specialty caramel. They also offer a gourmet spin on hot chocolate bombs with flavors like lavender ginger.
Russell Stover Chocolates
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.
André's Confiserie Suisse
André's Confiserie Suisse is a family-owned chocolate shop 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. Both the flagship store in Kansas City and the Overland Park location are also tearooms with full café menus.