4 Hot Candy Stores

Pick up a variety of chocolate sweets for your sweetheart

The Valley is already well-known for its farms, restaurants, and wineries. Now attention — and kudos — are being lauded on its chocolate makers. Some of these artisans buy cacao beans from fair-trade organic growers and process with locally grown ingredients into tasty creations; others work with purchased chocolate to craft equally delicious results. The hottest trend remains chocolate paired with caramel or salt, while the beloved mix of bacon and chocolate is still popular — but on the decline. What’s next, according to area chocoholics? Chocolate and alcohol.

fruition chocolates

Fruition Chocolate Works & Confectionary Shokan
Founder Bryan Graham has been making waves in the chocolate world since he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He buys cacao beans from fair-trade organic growers in the Caribbean and Central and South America, the roasts and grinds them at his Shokan location. The resulting chocolate is then combined with locally sourced products such as fruit, maple syrup, honey, and spirits. Recent confections include freeze-dried strawberries dipped in white or dark chocolate and effervescence for a bubbly, Champagne-like effect; and 74 percent dark chocolate bars made with wild-grown Bolivian cocoa beans. His chocolates are sold in all 50 states, England, New Zealand, and Japan. 845-657-6717; www.tastefruition.com

Lucas Candies Haverstraw
Founded by five brothers from Greece, this family-owned candy maker is approaching its 120-year anniversary, so it’s safe to say they know what chocolate delights appeal to the masses. Its new line of corporate gifts features some of the family’s most popular cocoa-based items including gourmet candy bars; chocolate-covered Oreos and pretzels; and Gobs, dark chocolate caramel-covered marshmallows. The shop also sells candy favors for special events. 845-947-1220; www.lucascandies.com

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last chance oliver kita

Last Chance Cheese & Antiques in Tannersville (left) serves 30 to 40 different chocolate varieties, while Oliver Kita Chocolates (right) is Rhinbeck’s go-to destination for beautifully packaged chocolates

Oliver Kita Chocolates Rhinebeck
Kita’s shop in the heart of the village has become the go-to destination for those craving exquisite chocolates that are beautifully packaged. He describes himself as a “fondur” or chocolate melter since he purchases his chocolate rather than turning beans into bars and other shapes. But the proof of his talent is in his artisanal, jewel-like chocolates. His Hudson Valley bars range from “breakfast candy” (with organic dark chocolate, bacon, and toffee) to the “les violettes” of milk chocolate; dark chocolates with pink Himalayan sea salt; Japanese “mermaids” with dark chocolate, seaweed, and a hint of edamame flavor; and “Miami Heat,” a combination of almonds, milk chocolate, and habañero or chili pepper. The bonbons or chocolate bites — such as salted caramel apple with peanut crust — are equally creative. The sampler boxes are almost too pretty to open. “Great Estates,” for example, is an ode to the Hudson Valley: The contents have monikers like Vandermint, Roosevelt Raspberry, and Clermont Cappuccino. 845-876-2665; www.oliverkita.com

Verdigris Tea & Chocolate Hudson and Catskill
Kim Bach opened her first retail shop almost 10 years ago to sell tea, but had a gurney in the center that she filled with chocolate candies — her version of “death by chocolate,” she says. She estimates she now sells 25 different brands — including local items from Fruition, Bella’s Homebaked Goods, and Oliver Kita, and well-known chocolate sources such as John Kelly, Fine & Raw, Berkshire Bark, Mast Brothers, Marich, and MariaBelle. While milk chocolate is making “a bit of a comeback,” she says, the ultimate gold standard remains dark chocolate: “the darker the chocolate and less sugar in it, the healthier it is,” Bach says. The newest trend to emerge is mixing alcohol and chocolate with whiskey caramels. For Valentine’s Day, her shop stocks fruit-dipped chocolate as well as chocolate cakes — hazelnut mousse torte, chocolate-raspberry cake, chocolate mousse cake — made by baker Regina Simmons. 518-828-3139; www.verdigristea.com

Related: Where to Find the Best Chocolate in the Hudson Valley

verdigris tea and chocolate
Cupcakes at Verdigris Tea & Chocolate

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