UPDATE: Sweets and treats aren't just for Halloween, these goodies are perfect for the holiday season, too. This story was originally published on October 29.
Costumes aside, the best thing about our Halloween is the candy. And, just because you're now distributing the goods instead of collecting them, that doesn't mean you can't indulge in some sugary bliss, too. You're a grown-up now, though, so make sure your munchies are equally mature. Don't dip your hand into that plastic pumpkin — we've got six amazing places for house-made treats guaranteed to next-level that bite-sized Snickers bar.
The cherry on top? These creations are all whipped up right here in Chicago. Gooey, caramel pecan turtles, buttery toffee, chew-tastic taffy — we're talking real delights, people. And, unlike that bag of chocolates stashed in your office drawer, these candies are made fresh daily using top ingredients. What's missing? Only the preservatives, so it looks like you'll have to gobble 'em up just a little bit faster. Now, that's what we call the ultimate sugar rush.
Want more? Check out all our Halloween tips and tricks right here!
Photographed by Luhrs Heldrich
Amy's Candy Bar
Amy Hansen had a sweet dream and made a bold move to follow it. Inspired by her grandmother's goodies as a kid, Hansen developed a passion for baking. She enrolled herself in the Chicago French Pastry School and eventually ditched her corporate America gig to open up shop in Lincoln Square.
Amy learned early on in her grandmother's kitchen that high-quality ingredients are the key to making the yummiest treats. She's known for her small batch, handcrafted caramels — which definitely shine on apples this time of year. You'll also find imported and nostalgic candy (Boston Baked Beans, anyone?), as well as sweets from other local artisans.
Amy's Candy Bar 4704 North Damen Avenue (between Leland Avenue and Giddings Street); 773-942-6386.
Katherine Anne Confections
Ready for a little Midwestern tale? Katherine was a Wisconsin farm girl who started experimenting with candy making at the ripe age of 10, using cream from her fam's Jersey cows. Forget a lemonade stand. This kid was selling soft, old-fashioned caramels (named Katherine's Karamels) at her dad's office for $0.25 a pop. You can guess what happened next. Katherine, all grown-up, moved to the Windy City in 2006 and launched her first Chicago shop. And, yes, she's still the one in the kitchen stirring the pot.
While you can still get one of Katherine's killer caramels, she's also expanded her biz by adding sumptuous truffles, too. We highly recommend you try the peanut butter apple and pineapple upside down truffles. They are worth an extra 30-minutes at the gym. And just like the purity of using Jersey cow cream, all of her treats utilize local and organic ingredients — nothing artificial. Real sugar and no corn syrup people. Isn't that what candy should be?
Katherine Anne Confections, 2745 West Armitage Avenue (between California and Fairfield Avenues); 773-727-3248.
A Chicago institution, this family-owned candy shop and ice cream parlor dates back to 1921 — and so do its preservative-free recipes. Fun facts: The Beatles paid a visit in 1965 after playing a concert in Comiskey Park, and one famous booth has been the scene of countless engagement proposals over the years.
When it comes to candy, you'll find every piece is handmade with precision, from assorted truffles and fudge to marzipan and terrapin (a chocolate, caramel, and pecan goodness). There's also a homemade version of those sugar swizzle sticks in a multitude of flavors and colors. We might avoid that one before a presentation at work.
Margie's Candies, 1813 West Montrose Avenue, (at Ravenswood Avenue); 773-348-0400.
Mr. Kite's Chocolate
Why buy nuts from the health-food store when you could go next door and get them with chocolate on them? Owner Dominic Kite has been playing the role of Willy Wonka for over 20 years. Up until 2007, the original shop was located a few blocks away, but you can still catch him working in action to this day.
Along with the obvious abundance of chocolate confections (check out those handcrafted peanut butter cups!), the gigantic caramel apples put anything you received in grade school to shame. If you're on the market for something custom, Kite specializes in novelty molds. A large, chocolate pumpkin? Yes, please.
Mr. Kite's Chocolate, 6 West Maple Street (between State and Dearborn Streets); 312-664-7270.
This buttery confection is an Oprah favorite and has been in the Academy Award swag bags on countless of occasions — need we say more? But seriously, the birth of this mind-blowing treat has a similar story to one we've heard before. Terry simply had the urge to create his Grandmother McCall's toffee — can we say granny power? After making batches upon batches for holidays and special events, Terry and his partner decided to open up shop in 2005. We are SO glad they did.
While Terry still pays homage to his grandmother's recipe, he added his own twist. An avid traveler, he became inspired by the tastes and textures of other cultures. So, he married an already amazing product (toffee) with global ingreds like Madagascar vanilla, French lavender, Indian chai spices, Australian ginger, and even crushed wasabi peas. It's seriously like no other toffee you've ever had before. In case you plan on giving someone an adult sweet treat this Halloween, don't miss the adorable pumpkin-printed pieces (pictured.)
Terry's Toffee, 1117 West Grand Avenue (between Aberdeen and May Streets); 312-733-2700.
Windy City Sweets
Warning: Do not go in here hungry. This Lakeview confectionary has doubled in size since opening its doors back in 1983, so pretty much anything you can dip in chocolate is sold here. You'll still find the original owners milling around on site every day, catering to customers and jumping in on the candy-making action.
Two words: candy wall. That's right, this ceiling-high wonder features an inventory of jelly beans and various hard candies that give us a sugar high just looking at it. If chocolate is more your thing, you'll find everything from dipped sandwich cookies and caramel nut patties to homemade fudge and truffles. This emporium of yum also specializes in constructing incredible gift baskets, so why not fill that trick-or-treating void?
Windy City Sweets, 3308 North Broadway Street (between Aldine Avenue and Buckingham Place); 773-477-6100.