'Tis the season for candy bars, gummies, and treats galore, but rather than fuel bad habits in the candy aisle at the convenience store, why not hit up one of these local spots for a gourmet candy fix? From housemade caramels to toffee-coated popcorn, here are five artisan candy makers in Chicago making their own unique "treats."
Amy's Candy Bar (4704 N. Damen Ave.)
One of the best spots in Chicago for candy is this adorable storefront in Lincoln Square. The sunny, brightly colored shop feels like a real life Wonka Wonderland, minus the borderline sociopathic factory workers. Instead, what you get is shelf after shelf of meticulously sourced nostalgia candy from all over the globe, along with an array of housemade goodies prepared by the shop's namesake, Amy Hansen. These include her sensational caramels, available in flavors like sea salt, dark chocolate, raspberry, and passion fruit-mango. She also makes cashew sea salt turtles, pecan sea salt turtles, and pistachio-almond nougat. Don't miss the "OMG Bar," Amy's housemade candy bars made with caramel, hazelnut, praline, and chocolate.
Katherine Anne Confections (2745 W. Armitage Ave.)
For all things chocolate, Katherine Anne Confections is destination number one. The Logan Square chocolate shop and cafe is where all the chocolate magic happens, courtesy of proprietor Katherine Duncan. Far beyond the standard chocolate creations, visitors at Katherine Anne Confections can except a dizzying array of atypical delights, many of which are divvied into one of three categories: caramels, truffles, or marshmallows. Most flavors change seasonally, with current examples including apple cider caramels, pepita and pumpkin spice caramels, chai tea marshmallows, cinnamon apple marshmallows, and cinnamon apple cacao nib truffles.
Margie's Candies (1960 N. Western Ave.)
Most people visit Margie's Candies in Bucktown for the gargantuan sundaes and the saucers of hot fudge. But as the name suggests, candy should not be overlooked. Hand-dipped candies are the order of the day at this nearly century-old dessert institution, where third-generation ownership churns out delicacies like toffee, caramels, fudge, nougat, terrapins, cherry cordials, and lots more.
HotChocolate (1747 N. Damen Ave.)
Leave it to one of the best pastry chefs in the country to peddle some of the best treats in Chicago. At her Bucktown dessert Mecca, HotChocolate, Mindy Segal commands an army of standout sweets, many of which are prime for grab-and-go snacking by the pastry counter in the front of the restaurant. From luscious housemade marshmallows and brownies to buttery brittle and cookies aplenty (she has a cookie cookbook, so that's no surprise), there's no shortage of sweets treats to be found.
Terry's Toffee (1117 W. Grand Ave.)
Everything caramel-y, nutty, and toffee are on full display at Terry's Toffee, a longstanding confectionery institution in West Town. Inspired by and derived from a toffee recipe handed down from Terry Opalek's grandmother, the portfolio of sweets here has ballooned to include candies in both classic and contemporary varieties. These include peppermint-pistachio crunch toffee, orange blossom toffee, "Mazel Toffee" made with matzo, peanut butter chocolate, and loads more. The shop also slings toffee-covered popcorn and toffee-infused ice cream.
Photos: Margie's Candies (credit Kendall Karmanian/City of Chicago), Amy's Candy Bar, Katherine Anne Confections, HotChocolate