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Candyland

Chris Widlar sounds a sweet note with Concertos in Chocolate.

Once a professional musician -- she still plays classical guitar -- Widlar has always had a passion for chocolate, particularly bittersweet. Before selecting the brand of chocolate she wanted to use for her company, she held several tasting sessions for friends and family. "You take a very small piece and put it on your tongue," she says. "It should melt right away. It should be smooth and rich, with no grittiness." Some premium chocolates, the group found, made wonderful coating but less wonderful fillings.

These are chocolates to be eaten slowly. The flavors are exquisite and subtle, and they take their time hitting the tongue. The coconut chocolates, for instance, have a milk-chocolate outside and a dark interior flavored with natural coconut purée and coconut rum. The coconut flavor emerges after a few seconds, then intensifies, filling your mouth with richness.

Holding the strawberries by their leaves, Widlar begins dipping them into the chocolate. One group is set on transfer paper to dry; these will have a flat side patterned in polka dots or a lacy design. Another group gets a coating of ground hazelnuts at the tip. And the third receives three kinds of chocolate: a dark glaze, a slant of white chocolate at the end and an overall drizzle of milk. These strawberries are sold at Whole Foods, but only the earliest and most vigilant customers can find them.

Few people in Colorado will have tasted chocolates as fresh as these. It makes a difference, says Taussig. "If they're sealed properly and you haven't whipped a lot of air into the filling, truffles can sit for a good long time even unrefrigerated, regardless of whether there's dairy inside or not. But I have noticed -- on the rare occasion that I've been able to keep them around long enough -- that a month after they're made, they just aren't as sharp. They don't really burst with fresh flavor.

"Chris just takes extreme care with each chocolate," Taussig observes. "You can tell just by looking at them, by how beautiful they are."

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