View the winners of the 2013 Editors Choice Food Awards — Chocolate & Candy Category.
Lydia Blanchard takes made-from-scratch marshmallows, sandwiches them between graham crackers, and dips them in chocolate. They’re delightful, and they come in flavors such as toasted coconut, peanut butter, caramel, and peppermint chip.
Suggested Retail Price: $23 per box of 6
Where to Find It: Sweet Lydia’s Lowell; farmers’ markets in northeast Massachusetts; and online at: sweetlydias.com
Providence, Rhode Island
Great ideas may come in tiny packages. Glee is made without preservatives, colorings, or artificial flavorings or sweeteners; and tastes great. It’s also one of the few gums that contain chicle (a natural rubber), which supports sustainable rainforest practices.
Suggested Retail Price: about $1 per pack
Where to Find It: Natural-foods and Whole Foods stores; and online at: gleegum.com
Elaine Hsieh and Catharine
Sweeney revel in all the little details that make their bonbons perfect, using fresh herbs, French fruit purées, and Rishi teas to flavor their ganache and chocolate. They’re even vigilant about how their chocolates are sold, preferring to do the shipping themselves to ensure proper handling, though they do entrust their wares to a couple of retailers.
Suggested Retail Price: $12.95 per 6-piece box
Where to Find It: Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA; South End Formaggio in Boston; and online at: ehchocolatier.com
GOAT MILK CARAMELS
Big Picture Farm
These caramels have won just about every major specialty-food award there is. Using milk from their own goats, Louise Conrad and Lucas Farrell turn out buttery caramels with a subtle tang in flavors like maple cream, chai, and sea salt/bourbon vanilla, which they pack in handmade boxes and bags for a lovely holiday gift.
Suggested Retail Price: $25 per bag of 30; $10.99 per 3.2-ounce box
Where to Find It: Dozens of specialty and grocery stores around New England and online at: bigpicturefarm.com
BALAO CHOCOLATE BAR
Three Rivers, Massachusetts
To make this, the best chocolate bar we’ve ever tasted, Colin Gasko went to the best cacao grower—Vicente Norero of Camino Verde in Balao, Ecuador—who grows traditional regional varieties and carefully sorts, ferments, and dries them according to type. Then Gasko blended two of Noreno’s varieties for this bar, the world’s first single-farm chocolate blend. The outstanding result is the perfect marriage of chocolate’s spicy, floral, and fruity flavors. This is the ultimate chocophile’s reward.
Suggested Retail Price: $13 per bar
Where to Find It: Several Massachusetts specialty stores, including Provisions in Northampton and Rubiner’s in Great Barrington; and online at: roguechocolatier.com
All photos/art by Michael Piazza