Inside the Easter Basket

I snagged an invitation to Easter in La Jolla this year, so I decided to bring the host some fancy Easter baskets for her two lovely daughters.

I started with the basket. Joe at World Market downtown (619-236-1737; worldmarket.com) said they carried “a bunch of Easter baskets in different colors and styles and sizes [$4.99 to $21.99]. And our regular collection of handle baskets would be suitable. They come in neutral colors, ranging from natural straw to a sort of orange. And we have different-color grasses and fibers for filling [$2.99 to $4.99]. Or, for a fun twist, you could put in edible Easter grass [1 oz., $2.99]. It comes in pink strawberry, green apple, or blue raspberry.”

Moving on to marshmallows: what could serve as an upgrade to the traditional lineup of bright-yellow Peeps? Ah, Plush Puffs gourmet marshmallows, available at Fresh & Easy or Whole Foods in Hillcrest and La Jolla ($3.99 for 4 oz. bag). Plush Puffs owner Anne Hickey told me, “We are not in the same category as a regular marshmallow. Plush Puffs are made from scratch, using unprocessed cane sugar and organic rice syrup. And they’re not extruded, they’re handcrafted. We don’t puff them up with nitrogen to keep them stable for a year and half — we whip air into them until they triple in size, and they keep for four months. The texture is rich, velvety. Lemon meringue is a popular flavor for Easter; cherry chocolate chip is the most popular overall.”

Chuao Chocolatier in La Jolla (858-546-1463; chuaochocolatier.com) got my first call for chocolate bunnies. “We have Hopping Popping Bunnies for $7.95,” said Sonia. “They’re milk chocolate and filled with praline and popping candy. They crackle in your mouth. We also have hollow bunnies in milk or dark chocolate [$8.95]. And the Easter Treats [$7.95] is a quarter-pound of springtime shapes — bunnies and birds — in white, dark, and milk chocolate. Finally, for something really special, we have the Breakfast in Bed Collection [$15]. That’s an assortment of five bonbons: maple caramel with little bits of bacon, rosewater caramel, French toast with cinnamon ganache and toasted panko for a little bit of crunch, orange bliss with orange zest and orange liqueur, and coffee with rum buttercream.”

At the Candy Depot in Hillcrest (619-683-2334), the clerk advised adding lollipops ($2.50 each) to my baskets. “They’re shaped like a frog, a chicken, or a bunny, and they say ‘Happy Easter’ on them. You can also get marshmallow pops or solid-chocolate pops in the shape of a rabbit, each $2.50.”

Myria at See’s Candies in Sports Arena (619-291-6086; sees.com) told me about their specialty eggs. “We have a popular novelty egg [6.2 oz., $10.55]. It’s a plastic egg with a bunny painted on it, and it’s filled with miniatures: coconut, chocolate butter, and Scotchmallow eggs, milk chocolate foil eggs, hollow milk chocolate egg with white chocolate critter inside, and jelly beans. If you just want a large candy egg, we have the Rocky Road Egg [9.5 oz., $11.40]. It’s made from milk chocolate and decorated on the outside with a candy flower. Inside it has cream chocolate, honey marshmallows, and walnuts.” See’s also carries Easter-time jelly beans (12 oz., $3.90) in raspberry, orange, lemon, and lime. The Sports Arena store is the San Diego County discount location for See’s, and “certain groups, such as city employees, military, hospital employees, and teachers, can qualify for a $1 to $3.80 discount on selected items.”

The See’s jelly bean assortment piqued my interest, and I called Candy Shack and Yogurt in Seaport Village (619-234-7688). “You can pick your flavors of Jelly Bellies,” said Carrie. “Everything is $4.99 for a half pound. For Easter, a lot of people get cherry. And I have a Peter Rabbit Box [1 oz., $1.99] with juicy pear, bubble gum, lemon drop, sour grape, and 7Up.”

Edmir at The Sweet Factory in Fashion Valley (619-296-1367; sweetfactory.com) said his jelly beans were Kosher and gluten free. “They’re made by Gimbal. They’re $2.99 for a quarter pound, and if you buy a full pound for $11.96 you get an additional quarter pound for free. At Easter, people tend to go for the pastel colors. We have a popular sky-blue bean called Berry Blue, which is a tart twist on blueberry. Others include pear, lemon meringue, strawberry cheesecake, and mango.”

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Edible Easter Grass Since my cat thinks the plastic kind is edible, maybe this will save me a trip to the Vet this year!

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