Pastry chefs differentiate between chocolate and chocolates — the first is a pure ingredient, while the second is a confection. Think of it this way: you savor chocolate like fine wine, but you hand out chocolates during Halloween.
To illustrate the difference, New York magazine had renowned pastry chef Francois Payard taste 14 chocolates a couple years ago. The results were entertaining but very telling.
Payard on Junior Mints: “I know these are meant to be refreshing. I wouldn’t say it tastes like toothpaste, but something like that.”
On Ferrero Rocher: “Ewgh, no, this is terrible.”
On Cadbury Dairy Milk: “No, this one is not good; it’s too dense, too thick with sweetness. This is like Belgian chocolate; it tastes very fatty. There’s no interesting character. You can’t even enjoy the cocoa liquor in it.”
If you’re like me and love Halloween candy but not its overwhelming sweetness, you can make your own PB Cups, Almond Jays, Twixts and Snickles, thanks to Chow.com! They even have diagrams, videos and printout candy wrappers.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble, here’s some store-bought options in New York.
La Maison du Chocolat – This premiere shop sells giant roches and nougats, all with their proprietary blend of Valrhona chocolate.
Tumbador Chocolate – Jean-Francois Bonnet, formerly of Daniel restaurant, now has his own chocolate factory in Brooklyn. For a classically trained chef, he’s surprisingly playful with the s’more and PB&J candy bars. You should try these not just for their deliciousness, but because he’s a really nice guy. I only wish the base chocolate weren’t Callebaut, which has a weak flavor. Available at Fresh Direct.
Lion Bar – This candy bar is a mix between a Kit Kat and a 100 Grand: crispy, crunchy and caramely. Because it’s from the UK, it’s also less sweet than American candy. Available at Economy Candy and Fairway.
Of course, you can always get a free bag of generic candy at KMart. Coupon expires on Halloween.