Serious Eats

The Best Artisanal Chocolate Bars

...and patties, nuggets, balls, and bites.

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Mixed box from Garrison Chocolates. [Photographs: Robyn Lee]

No offense to Snickers and Nestle Crunch, but in a perfect world, we'd trick-or-treat and be handed these hand-made chocolates. Inspired by classic Halloween candies, these chocolatiers from all over the country have stepped it up with fancy ganaches, fruit pâtes, pumpkin puree, and (kids, close your eyes) scotch. Ordering these might require a little more effort than hopping into a CVS, but they're pretty special. Check out the five chocolatiers, after the jump.

Zingerman's

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From left: Ca$hew Cow, WTF, Original.

How many candy bars start with two Zs? Zingerman's Zzang! are as fun to say as they are to eat (aka find stuck in your teeth hours later). They come in three flavors. Zzang Original: Virginia peanut hunks, honey nougat, all-natural peanut butter, and caramel (from organic muscovado brown sugar, how fancy). Ca$hew Cow: cashew butter swirled with roasted cashews, cashew brittle, milk chocolate, puffed rice, and a shake of sea salt (finally, cashews get some candy bar love). And the WTF? (that would be fudge). zingermans.com »

Liddabit Sweets

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Cute recycled paper wrapping and green ribbons.

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From left: PB&J, Coconut Lime, King Bar.

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From left: Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Snacker.

The Liddabit story is a pretty sweet one. Two ladies (Liz Gutman and Jen King) befriended each other at the French Culinary Institute and joined chocolate-making forces. They've created all sorts of whimsical confections, including autumn-happy ones like Pumpkin Pie (yes, they even remembered the crust part) and Pecan Pie (with all that browned, super caramelized richness of an actual pecan pie), in addition to The Snacker (the fancy Snickers of your dreams), The King (peanut butter nougat with banana ganache and a brown butter cookie), and Coconut Lime (major coconut action here). You can find them at the Brooklyn Flea market or email them for specific mail orders. liddabitsweets.com »

Bon Bon Bar

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Chocolatier Nina Wanat was on hiatus for a bit, moving between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but now her company Bon Bon Bar is back with: Pumpkin Pie (made with pumpkin and butternut squash from the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers' market), Coffee (made with Blue Bottle Coffee—even coffee haters in our office were into this), Caramel Nut (classic and good), Peanut Butter (each square alternates between honey and strawberry jam), Scotch (um, feeling a wee bit tipsy), and Ginger (candied slabs on top made from Phan Farms ginger with a lemon nougat center). bonbonbar.com »

Fran's Chocolates

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Fran's GoldBites have that Halloween "Fun-Sized" smallness happening, but it's just the right amount of almonds and sweet, stretchy caramel, all coated in dark chocolate. We liked them more than the Coconut Gold Bar—there was something weird about that creamy coconut center. franschocolates.com »

Garrison Confections

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Squrtles, Pretzel Balls, Chocolate-covered nuts, and on the top right, the edge of a Rocky Road Island.

Shoot, Garrison, where do we begin with you—the peanut butter patties, chocolate tablets, brittle squares, so many goodies here. But of them all, the most addictive award goes to the Pretzel Balls. Like the chocolate and yogurt-covered pretzels sold in bulk bins, these little beebees have that great salty-sweet balance. Squrtles are square versions of turtles (chewy caramel, pecans, and dark chocolate). The Rocky Road Island is just a fat brick of marshmallowy peanut butter ganache-goo with a graham cracker foundation. As far as edible bricks go, it's pretty tasty.

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Ultimate Nougat Bar.

Since the brown log aesthetic can get old, this one throws on some flowery vine art. It doesn't make the chocolate taste any better (though it's already tasty) but sure looks perdy. The Ultimate Nougat Bar is a dark chocolate bar filled with creamy chocolate nougat, pistachios, hazelnuts, and caramel.

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From left: Piedmont Patty, Coconut, Peanut Patty.

And finally, the patty department. The Piedmont Patty proves that a dark chocolate disc filled with gianduja, milk chocolate, and roasted candied hazelnuts could never be a bad thing; the Coconut Patty is covered in crunchy coconut flakes, with double coconut action inside; and the Peanut Butter Patty will satisfy both smooth and crunchy fans. garrisonconfections.com »

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