Of course you're excited about the Pizza Rat-inspired costumes and general debauchery associated with Halloween, but don't forget the real reason for the holiday: an annual excuse for tasting new candies and stocking up on great chocolates. Whether you're a peanut-butter-cup fiend or a salty caramel nut, here are 10 to try.
Black Dinah's Skeleton Bars
From a husband and wife team working in a solar-powered kitchen on the little island of Isle au Haut, off the coast of Maine, these simple but totally festive dark and milk chocolate bars are scarily good.
Curious Candy’s Sour Cherries
For sour candy lovers, the main things to hit are a high but palatable sourness level and a nice chew. You can’t do much better than these sour cherries from Cynthia Rowley’s candy shop, covered with a sheen of granulated sugar.
Roni Sue's Beer-Pretzel Caramels
Chocolatier Rhonda Kave is also a partner in MOHO Chocolate, a Belize-based direct trade company that produces chocolate using organic cacao. Her beer-pretzel caramels are slightly salty, hoppy, and crunchy with big pieces of Martin's pretzels.
Compartes Birthday Cake Bar
If you're missing the super-sweet stuff, this fancy L.A.-based chocolate shop's newest white chocolate flavor is speckled with vanilla and rainbow sprinkles and tastes, weirdly, precisely, like a slice of frosted cake.
Sugar Knife's Cookies and Cream Marshmallows
This Oakland-based candy company has a soft spot for liquor-spiked sweets, including the cookies and cream marshmallow with a dose of Bailey's. (When the brittle made with Bulleit bourbon, bacon, and pecans comes back in stock, you might want to try that, too.)
Dewey's Candy's Chocolate-Covered Gummy Bears
Just a bunch of strawberry-banana, raspberry, and strawberry gummy bears coated in milk chocolate here. Keep moving. Nothing to see. No, I didn't eat the whole bag.
Alma's Peanut Butter Cups
A box of Alma’s cups will be half plain, for those traditionalists who recognize the peanut butter cup as its own standalone genre, and half spicy (with a kick of Thai chilis and ginger, mellowed out with coconut milk).
Charm School Chocolate's Coconut Milk Bars
Joshua Rosen, at one point a pastry cook in the kitchen at New York's Del Posto, now focuses on producing these delicious vegan chocolates. The plain coconut milk bar has a wonderful melt and rich flavor (and a version with peanut butter toffee is also available for the holidays).
Sunnyside Local’s Salted Orange-Beer Caramels
These exceptionally tender, deeply flavored caramels from Redlands, Calif., are made with organic butter and cream and flavored with orange wheat beer. The confectionary works with the seasons (which means you can look forward to blood orange-bourbon caramels later in the winter).
Salty Road's Mango-Chili Taffy
I didn't think I liked taffy until I ate a piece right off Salty Road’s counter-top machine that stretches out the flavored sugar in Brooklyn, softening and aerating it. The taffy was still warm, supersoft, extremely delicious. It's still my favorite, and I'll be ordering some of the sweet, slightly spicy mango-chili taffy both to hoard and to give away (maybe) this Halloween.