Minnesota-Made Halloween Candy for Grown-Ups
As we grow older, our tastes change, and there comes a point in your life when you'd turn down a banana Runt for an actual banana. Waxy chocolate and synthetic fruit flavors don't have same appeal as they did when they were poured out of a heavy pillowcase that you'd just toted all over the neighborhood.
In anticipation of Halloween, I rounded up a bunch of my favorite relatively new, locally made, handcrafted candies for the magazine: Sweet Jules and Poorboy caramels, Mademoiselle Miel's honey-filled dark chocolate bon-bons, B.T. McElrath's Buttered Toast Chocolate Bar (a gourmet version of the Nestle Crunch), and Craftmade caramel corn toffee.
To those, I'd add a few more grown-up Halloween treats worth a mention:
Craftmade Coconut Toffee with Thai Chili Lime Chocolate
Craftmade toffee-maker Steve Kippels sent me samples of a few new flavors he's developed: Almond Toffee with Vanilla Latte Chocolate, Almond Toffee with Chai Spiced White Chocolate and, the most daring sounding, Coconut Toffee with Thai Chili Lime Chocolate. The Latte is great—it has a subtle coffee flavor and white chocolate speckled with vanilla bean—as is the chai, which is robust with cardamom and clove. But the sleeper hit is the Thai-style toffee, which has a lot going on: tropical coconut layered with a salty-savoriness, a kick of heat, and punch of lime that'll get your salivary glands going.
Lily Bloom's Kitchen Truffle Pops
Lily Bloom's makes macaroons and chocolates and offers them, Minnesota State Fair-style, on a stick (the macaroons on a stick are known as "poparoons"). When owner Larry Shiller sent me samples (gussied up, rather excessively, in the company's giftable packaging), I saw them as one more extension of the whole cake pop craze from a few years back, and they languished on my desk for quite some time. But once I tried a truffle pop, I understood the appeal: the chocolate is good, the flavors well balanced (espresso, lavender, etc.), and you don't have chocolate melting onto your fingers as you would when eating a truffle out of a box.
Askinoise Chocolate Itty Bar
Joni Wheeler at Sugar Sugar Candy turned me on to the Itty Bars from Askinoise chocolate. (Okay, so they're not made here, but since Colin Gasko moved his Rogue Chocolate operation out east, we haven't had a local bean-to-bar option.) Their micro-size is super appealing, as the chocolate is intense enough to make such a small portion satisfying (unlike some of those micro-Snickers and such that just lead to a whole handful of wrappers). Though I'd advise getting at least a couple, so you can compare single varietals side by side, such as the smoky 70% San Jose Del Tambo from Ecuador and the fruitier 72% Tenende from Tanzania.