Chocolate jewels from Connoisseur

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When I first heard that pastry wizard Karen Donatelli was moving away from Park Avenue, I was very upset. I kept thinking about the tarts, those buns ... the cake. I'm talking about cake.

Guess we'll have to make do with the new tenant at 513 S. Park Ave: Chocolate Connoisseur (407-622-1166). Damn the luck.

Chocolatier Michael Gilbert hand-dips every piece of truffle, fruit and cookie, and each rich semisweet and milk-chocolate creation qualifies as a small jewel. The soft centers have exotic flavors like jasmine tea and passion fruit, the white truffles are filled with buttery cream, and the ginger candy tastes like a confection by way of China.

The chocolates are $25 a pound, and if you're looking for a gift, they put those department-store brands to shame. They're almost too beautiful to eat. Well, on second thought, maybe not.


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