• Irene Levy Baker

A Sweet Taste of the Pandemic

Updated: 7 days ago


Photo courtesy of Sciascia Confections

Life during the pandemic is bitter. And that’s all the more reason to treat yourself to some Philadelphia-made sweets. Here’s a round-up of some of the areas best handmade chocolates and confections.


Sciascia Confections


It seems fitting to highlight Sciascia Confections during the pandemic, as this amazing chocolate shop was born because of another crisis -- 9/11. That catastrophe changed the direction of many lives, including Tom & Loren Sciascia, who were then graphic designers. Every year they gave their clients lovely holiday gifts. During the holiday season after 9/11, they wanted to give clients something from the heart. So Tom made chocolate truffles. The clients loved the truffles and ordered more to give out as gifts. The truffles were so popular that the couple eventually left graphic design and put their creative talents into the fine art of chocolate.


Now, Sciascia Confections sells chocolate bars, barks, brownies, authentic French macarons in a rainbow of colors, to-die-for hot drinking chocolate and more than 30 kids of hand-crafted chocolate truffles. Though they switched from design to chocolate making, the couple’s desire to treat each customer with warmth and personal service remains strong.


Look for truffle flavors like La Vie En Rose with dark chocolate ganache with raspberries and a splash of rose water and 5 Spice Girls made of dark chocolate ganache infused with cinnamon, star anise, white pepper, cloves, and fennel with poppy seeds. Everything they make is gluten-free.


Touch-less sales are available at both Sciascia Confections locations - at the Ferry Market in New Hope and the Stockton Market in Stockton, New Jersey. Mask are required. Candies are also available online.

Tip: Flat rate shipping is only $9.90 - a great excuse to stock up.


Classic Cake

Classic Cake by Irene Levy Baker

Classic Cake had a crisis during a crisis but managed to find a sweet way to survive. In March, the Cherry Hill strip mall housing the bakery's New Jersey location caught on fire. Fortunately no one was injured, but Classic Cake and several other stores burned down in the two alarm blaze. Despite the multiple crises, Classic Cake kept on baking. They quickly set up a Pop Up Shop in the Short Hills Deli in Cherry Hill, NJ. Sweet-loving customers can walk in on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The bakery has had the same executive chef for half of its extraordinary 30-year run. Chef Robert Bennett is the creative force behind the cakes, cookies, pastries, hand-crafted chocolates, cheesecakes and other sweets. Previously he was head pastry chef at the former grand dame of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene, Le Bec-Fin. Bennett is also known for leading a team who baked a cake for 44,000 guests for Ronald Regan’s second inauguration.


Quarantine celebrations are bad enough. Make quarantine celebrations a little sweeter with goodies from Classic Cake. Order online or call 856-751-5448 for pick up at the Short Hills Deli in Cherry Hill, NJ, or the Classic Cake Philly Factory at 1821 E. Sedgley Avenue.


Tip: Home delivery will be available via DoorDash, starting October 1.


Aurora Grace Chocolates

Photo courtesy of Aurora Grace Chocolates

Barely a year after opening, Aurora Grace Chocolates was temporarily closed by, you guessed it, the pandemic. That couldn’t stop Chocolatier Aurora Wold. As soon as she could she re-opened her shop at 517 South 5th Street for curbside pick-up and online sales. She is once again setting up tables at farmer’s markets nearly every day of the week -- from Rittenhouse to Old City, and for the Main Line to South Philly. And she is even making plans to expand.


Aurora started as a dishwasher and worked her way up in some of the best restaurant kitchens in the world, including Jean-Georges, Eleven Madison Park and Noma. You can taste her talent when you savor her hand-painted chocolate bonbons in flavors such as peanut butter and strawberry balsamic. Each one is a work of art. She also makes French macarons, seasonal breads, pies and pastries.

Order ahead online.


Tip: Bonbons are best stored and consumed at room temperature. If you don’t have air conditioning, store them in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before eating.


Social distancing is hard. These locally-made chocolates and baked goods make staying home a little sweeter.

by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. For even more tips, visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com. Planning a staycation? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse.

Click here for more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including two posts with tips for how to help restaurants survive, photos of masks by Philadelphia attractions, a dining review and more.

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