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FrontRunners: Nutcracker Sweet

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Holiday time at Colorado’s Keystone Resort (www.keystone.snow.com) brings more than those glorious Rocky Mountain vistas. An eyeful of a different sort goes on display December 13 through January 5 in the lobby of Keystone Lodge, where pastry chef Ned Archibald offers up a miniature town made entirely of chocolate—1,650 pounds of it. “Gingerbread houses are the traditional display during the holidays,” says Archibald. “But what better way to break tradition than with hundreds and hundreds of pounds of chocolate?”

Chocolateville is a billion-calorie fantasy complete with a working chocolate train that winds through the chocolate mining town. A moving edible gondola ascends the chocolate mountain, and a flowing waterfall gushes with gallons of liquid semisweet. Green-tinted white chocolate trees hold a dusting of powder (chocolate, of course), and standing guard over the whole scene are two giant nutcrackers, fashioned after Max and Edna Dercum, the founders of Keystone. Each year brings a new element, and this year’s addition is an interactive search for mountain animals.

Alas, no one is allowed to munch on a boxcar after the holidays. The annual display, which took Archibald five months to craft five years ago, is sealed in custom-made crates until the next wave of Christmas vacationers arrives.

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