Is there ever a bad time of year for chocolate? I’ve never found one, although April is one of the better months, especially after Easter candy goes on sale. It seems like every shop and corner store has their own seasonal chocolate section. But, what should you do for the rest of the year? Hopefully, this guide will help satiate your need for chocolate when the craving strikes.

Hopscotch

For those who’ve never been, Hopscotch is a wondrous place. Located on a quiet side street, it’s a great place to go for quiet conversation, book reading or just to spend some time sipping coffee while looking out the large windows on a sunny day. I always feel refreshed walking into Hopscotch no matter how my day is going.

However, it’s chocolate we’re looking for and Hopscotch has that in spades. With an inventory of baked goods that rotate daily, you’re always in for a surprise at Hopscotch, although some items such as the salted caramel brownies seem to be staples. On the day I visited, chocolate with orange salted caramel cupcakes ($3) were new to me, so I took one home to try.

Topped with thick, creamy orange frosting and a drizzle of salted caramel, I made a strategic choice with my first bite, starting from the top down to minimize the mess on my kitchen table. Not knowing how strong the orange flavor would come through, I’m glad to report the orange taste was noticeable, but didn’t overwhelm the sweet, sticky caramel. Finishing off the chocolate cupcake, I was very glad the cake itself was moist and resistant to crumbling, as I’d eaten all the frosting off the top first. If you want a substantial chocolate flavored snack, I’d recommend this one if it’s in stock.

Hopscotch
802 W John St
Champaign
M-Sa 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Su 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cool Bliss Popped Bliss (CBPB) Popcorn Shop

Ever wonder what the new shop next to the original Merry Ann’s Diner on Neil Street is? First thing's first: They’re not new, although their current location is. Previously located on Springfield Avenue just east of Neil Street, Cool Bliss Popped Bliss, or CBPB for short, specializes in popcorn of all varieties, from cheesy to spicy and everything in between. However, they also sell a variety of sweets covered in milk and white chocolate.

While I’ve enjoyed their chocolate covered Oreos and Twinkies in the past, I always like to try new things when I stop by CBPB, so this time I bought a white chocolate covered marshmallow stick ($2.18). Soft and spongy, I’ve always enjoyed the texture of marshmallows and hard, crumbly chocolate is just another improvement. However, I forgot how much sweeter white chocolate is compared to milk or dark chocolate. Since I’m used to eating the latter, this chocolate snack was a bit much for me. Next time I’ll stick with a milk chocolate covered sweet. Also, if you ever find yourself at CBPB and don’t know what to get, just ask the staff. They are more than glad to provide recommendations based on your preferences.

Cool Bliss Popped Bliss (CBPB) Popcorn Shop
1506 S Neil St
Champaign
Tu-Th 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
F+Sa 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su noon to 5 p.m.

Bossa Nova Cafe

A small café located in the heart of downtown Champaign, Bossa Nova is a great place to go to work, hangout, or eat lunch with a friend. They even have live music from time to time. However, I remember them best for their deluxious hot chocolate ($4.19). Crafted using Bossa Nova’s homemade hot chocolate mix, this isn’t your run of the mill dessert drink. As I explained in detail in my review of Bossa Nova Café, the deluxious hot chocolate is fantastic and comes in a spicier variety for those who are more adventurous. This treat is a must-try the next time you stop by downtown Champaign.

Bossa Nova Cafe
1 E Main St #108
Champaign
M-F 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Cake Artist’s Studio

Hidden next to a chemical company on Bloomington Road, don’t let the unusual location steer you away from The Cake Artist’s Studio. This award-winning cake shop has a wide variety of cupcakes, cake pops, petit fours, cake slices and other sweets to buy each week. With all those options, it’s not surprising that chocolate isn’t hard to find at The Cake Artist’s Studio.

The week I visited had a selection of Easter themed treats, many covered in white chocolate. Unable to resist the cuteness, I bought one specialty cake ($6.05) that looked very similar to a Peep. I appreciated the subtle lemon taste of the cake core, as I was worried it’d be way too much at first glance. The outer layer of white chocolate was also thinner than I expected, so the chocolate and cake combined in just the right amount with each bite. I wholeheartedly recommend going here if you have a chocolate craving. You can always count on them to have at least a few cakes with a chocolate base or chocolate frosting on any given day.

The Cake Artist’s Studio
1100 W Bloomington Rd B
Champaign
Tu-F 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photos by Matthew Macomber