The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Sweet treats

    Renee Rosenow

    When feeling that sweet-tooth toothache, all one has to do is head downtown to one, or all, of three unique treat shops to satisfy the craving for sugar. These quaint shops offer a wide variety of treats that can serve any reason for craving a tasty treasure.

    Blakelee’s Chocolates and Sweet Shop

    A little nostalgia and a lot of candy can go a long way – especially if the candy you’re looking for hasn’t been around since you were a kid.

    Senior Brianna Seidlitz has been working at Blakelee’s Chocolates and Sweet Shop, 416 Water St., since the summer and she spends her days offering up samples of fudge and other candies.

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    “Everyone comes in here and just loves it. It’s a really fun atmosphere,” she said.

    Owner Leann Walbeck opened Blakelee’s in Sept. 2007 and just wanted to have an old-time, nostalgic candy store.

    “Eau Claire didn’t have anything like it at the time,” Walbeck said.

    The building itself has an old-time look to it, with an old candy-weighing scale on display, as well as a cooler full of glass-bottle soda pops with flavors such as RC Cola and Dad’s Root Beer. The walls are adorned with colorful cutouts of lollipops and other candies.

    Old-fashioned metal lunch boxes are everywhere.

    “What really kind of wows the people is the old building look. I’ve kind of brought back to the candy . just the nostalgia,” said Walbeck.

    Most prevalent are the old candies – and there are quite a few of them.

    Chuckles, Razzles, Zots, Mary Janes, candy lipstick, candy cigarettes, Sugar Daddies, Slo Pokes, dots on paper and flat taffy are just a small fraction of the older candies found at Blakelee’s.

    “I’m always taking requests to try to find different kind of candies, but some just aren’t made anymore,” Walbeck said.

    Walbeck keeps tabs on which candies are being made when.

    “Sometimes the company will make a candy, and stop making it for a few years, and then start making it again,” she said of older candies. “I’ve become a candy historian, so to speak.”

    Aside from older types of candies, Blakelee’s sells more than 100 kinds of assorted fine chocolates, Walbeck said, adding that there are more than 200 varieties of other kinds of bulk candies, such as taffy or gummy bears and several different flavors of fudge.

    “Fudge is a very popular thing. We get a lot of seasonal fudge,” Seidlitz said.

    A few current fudge flavors include chocolate peanut butter, double chocolate fudge, fresh pumpkin, Belgian chocolate, chocolate cheesecake and maple walnut.

    Fifteen flavors of ice cream are offered at Blakelee’s, with fun flavors such as black cherry, maltamore, mint avalanche and blue moon.

    Milk chocolate covered potato chips, chocolate bark, toffee pretzels and truffles are also among the array of sweets found at Blakelee’s. Seidlitz’s favorite treats are the chocolate dipped Oreos – she said they are “phenomenal.”

    Walbeck said she loves being able to interact with her customers and said what really sets Blakelee’s apart from other sweet shops is the array of not only treats but gift items as well.

    “It’s a one stop shop – with the gift items, accessories, old time lunch boxes . you can kind of almost get something for everybody in the store,” Walbeck said.

    Dessert First Bakery Café

    “Life’s too short – get dessert first,” is the slogan emblazoned on the wall at Dessert First Baker Café, 210 Barstow St.

    Dessert First is known for their gourmet cupcakes, with flavors such as Key Lime Pie and Red Velvet.

    Owner Sandi Meinsen opened Dessert First in Aug. 2007 after winning second place in a business competition and receiving a grant to open her shop. She wanted something different for Eau Claire as far as baked goods go.

    “There was a lack of gourmet baked goods in town,” she said.

    Everything at Dessert First is baked from scratch, she said, adding that all the cupcakes are baked the night before and frosted in the morning.

    “We’ve also got a lot of people coming in specifically for cookies,” Meinsen said. “They’re not your normal grocery store cookies.”

    Also on the menu are muffins, as well as a small selection of sandwiches. The shop also has coffee drinks and a soda fountain, Meinsen said.

    Wedding cakes are a large portion of Dessert First’s business – all of them are baked at the shop, too. Framed photographs of their four-layer cakes line the walls of the shop.

    Many customers are specifically looking for large quantities of baked goods for office parties, birthdays or wedding showers, Meinsen said, and holidays make the demand for a lot of the products even more intense.

    As for those cupcakes, Meinsen has testimonial upon testimonial from her customers to back up their goodness.

    “We offer some very unique flavors. We have gotten a lot of phone calls and we never get tired of them. People call and say ‘the cupcakes are so good.’ I once had a lady call me right after she walked out to say that my cupcake made her day,” Meinsen said.

    While Meinsen said her customer demographic is all over the board, she mostly gets those having wedding showers or other get-togethers.

    “We have been getting more and more students, which is awesome,” she said.

    Meinsen believes the shop’s ambience makes it stand out.

    With photos from local artists hung on red walls and spacious tables throughout the shop, she could be right. But in the end, it’s all about the sweets.

    “What really sets (Dessert First) apart is the type of gourmet baked goods you’ll get here,” Meinsen said.

    Obsession Chocolates

    “I purchased a book on chocolate and just fell in love,” said Rebecca Flynn, owner of Obsession Chocolates, 310 Water St.

    Flynn opened the doors to Obsession Chocolates about a year ago, and hasn’t looked back since. Before buying that book on chocolate, she was a personal chef and a caterer for five years. Some might say she was born to be a chocolatier.

    “I’ve always loved making sweets ever since I was a kid … I used to watch my grandmother,” Flynn said.

    Flynn got her start with Obsession when she started making her own truffles, which is now what the store is most known for.

    Obsession grew quickly, and now Flynn crafts her chocolate creations in her very own factory, located next to Westgate Animal Hospital.

    “Once my factory was open and I started using it, I was the happiest girl,” she said.

    Obsession offers more than 20 different truffle flavors, many of which are intricately decorated with colorful designs or molded into different shapes. Some of the different truffle flavors include pear panache, honey lemon thyme and peanut butter Swirl, just to name a few. Several unique herbs are used in making the truffles, Flynn said.

    Flynn was also proud to say Obsession uses all local cream and butter for their treats, to support the local economy.

    In addition to truffles, Obsession also offers several chocolate sauce flavors including: malted milk, hot fudge, raspberry white chocolate, white chocolate sarsaparilla glaze and orange caramel, Flynn said, that people “go nuts for.”

    Among other treats found at Obsession, there are different flavors of bark, such as dark bark with dried fruit, which is mixed with dried fruits, blueberry, cherry, cranberry and candied ginger and put into dark chocolate. Some other bark flavors include peanut butter brittle and ginger orange

    Other treats Flynn noted were the baked goods.

    “We really are a custom bakery too,” she said.

    Muffins, cinnamon rolls and brownies are other popular treats at Obsession.

    “We do a lot of scones and muffins in the mornings,” Flynn said, adding, “We have a blueberry muffin that is out of this world; it has a very unique flavor to it that people just absolutely love.”

    The blueberry muffin is offered on Mondays, and on Wednesday cinnamon rolls are the specialty, Flynn said. She also suggested getting up early on Saturday for the insanely popular caramel rolls.

    In the afternoon, Obsession sells brownies. Flynn said they are quite popular and very rich. Cupcakes are also well-liked, and a different flavor is offered each day, she said.

    “We do (cupcakes) in what’s called a pannetone paper and they’re brown with gold designs on them . they’re very beautiful,” Flynn said.

    Even more sweets listed as being on Obsession’s menu include cheesecake and Italian gelato, which “kids love,” Flynn said.

    In the future Flynn hopes to expand her business into doing wholesale or even opening more shops across the Midwest.

    “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s my passion – I really love going to work every day,” Flynn said.

    Whether one is looking for cupcakes, truffles, old-fashioned candies or other sweets, each shop has something to offer.

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