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Updated: 04/17/2014 08:00:04AM

Arcadia’s Sweet Boutique is the place for special Easter treats

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Julie Cincotta, owner of Sweet Boutique, displays one of the special baskets designed for Easter. She sells handmade candy, chocolate and confectionary treats at her store, insidw DeSoto Jewelry.


A colorful array of delicious sweets awaits in Sweet Boutique, along with accessories for display and storage.


Baskets prepared especially for Easter are ready for sale at Sweet Boutique this week -- if the Easter Bunny doesn't beat you to them.


An array of handmade chocolate candies is displayed in a glass case to tempt shoppers. There is somethng for every taste.


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Rumor has it that, before heading out on his rounds Sunday, the Easter Bunny will be making a stop in DeSoto County — at Arcadia Sweet Boutique.

Julie Cincotta, the owner of Arcadia Sweet Boutique, sells her confectionery treats — deemed “affordable luxury” in today’s marketing lingo — from a shop scented with the combined aromas of raw chocolate, fresh candy and flowers. Trays of molded and freshly poured delicacies, packaged goodies, treats on a stick, holiday baskets, jellybeans, stuffed animals and knickknacks line the shelves, much of it in preparation for the Easter holiday.

“I love what I do,” says Cincotta from her shop at 1003 Oak Street (within DeSoto Jewelry). “I work hard to keep it fresh and exciting for everyone (entering the store).”

For the novice, a chocolate shop can be intimidating, especially if you’re used to just grabbing a chocolate bar at the convenience store. Chocoholics are far more passionate and astute about their treats. But ask questions, poke around, see and taste the difference in freshness and creativity in professionally crafted confections over candy that may sit on the shelf for weeks, evens months. Really, why eat factory chocolate when the fresh stuff is so much better?

Millions of us are turning to artisan chocolates, especially as chocolate grows in popularity in health circles. In limited amounts, raw chocolate is deemed good for you. Plus the stuff just melts in your mouth and tastes amazing. The U.S. confectionery market in 2013 sold about $30 billion in candy and chocolate products. That figure will jump $4 billion in chocolate sales in the next five years alone, experts predict.

Exotic and creative chocolate delicacies are highly popular, yet affordable as romantic gifts, bridal and baby showers, business functions, seasonal or special treats for yourself; yummy things like dipped pretzels, turtles, hand-made fudge and truffles, and a hundred variations in shapes and sizes, swirls and colors and ingredients, flavors spicy and fruity, in lemon and vanilla, banana, strawberries and caramel. Craved and hoarded, even as an aphrodisiac and prized like gold by Aztec kings, chocolate for centuries has been regarded as a key to a happier life.

Our passion for chocolate and treats is why Arcadia Sweet Boutique has created such a buzz in just 14 months. The chocoholic emporium – which also specializes in gift baskets, special functions and parties, Florida taffy and jellybeans – is generating a loyal customer following, especially with social media (Facebook) to help confectionery lovers stay better informed of specials and trends, Cincotta says.

She started on her path to discovery in New England confection shops, at workshops and trade shows and conventions, the route followed by food artisans over the centuries. Cincotta opened a confection shop in Boston with her daughter, then brought her skills and passion to Arcadia a couple of years ago. Her niece, who owns DeSoto Jewelry, invited Cincotta to open her small confectionery in February 2013. The confection shop has since expanded in size and selections.

“Chocoholics want something different, like seasalt and a thin layer of chocolate,” Cincotta says in her distinct New England brogue. “Spicy or fruity. Plus (DeSoto County) needs something new and different. People are very surprised, very excited. And every day, more and more people are stopping in.”

Maybe even the Easter Bunny.

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