Best Sweet or Savory Treat
Hazel Hill Chocolate
Cases of artfully decorated chocolates line one side of Hazel Hill Chocolate, where co-owner Nick Xidis explains that using real, simple ingredients is key in creating the shop’s delectable treats.
“We are a family-owned, handmade-chocolate and confectionery shop,” Xidis said. “What you get here is stuff made by hand, from scratch.”
Pointing to a marshmallow enveloped in chocolate, he explains they don’t buy marshmallows — they make them. Same goes for the caramel.
The shop’s latest endeavor has involved purchasing cacao beans from far-flung countries like Madagascar to make single-origin chocolate bars. Starting with the raw ingredient that becomes chocolate has meant experimenting with small batches, investing in new equipment and expanding the production area.
“The intent is to produce some very distinctive flavors,” Xidis said, adding he expects the flavors will appeal to people who also appreciate wine and coffee.
Four different bars are expected to hit the shelves this fall at the shop, which sits at 724 S. Kansas Ave.
While chocolate is at the core of the business’ identity, another essential component is its location. Xidis said he’s heartened by local patronage of the downtown shop.
“That sense of community and the way Topeka has supported us I think is unique to our community,” he said.
First runner-up: Baker’s Dozen
Second runner-up: Josey Baking Co.