With Valentine’s Day coming up, and the winter doldrums setting in, here are eight Texas Artisan candy makers to know about. All of these offer online sales, and you can find many of them in stores in their hometowns. They represent local sweets at their finest, from Houston to Spring to Grapevine. FYI, some of these handmade prizes require a bit of time to make, so take that into account as you order.
People are raving about Zam’s fruit gel candies, which are vegan because they’re made with pectin not animal gelatin. (This is getting to be more common.) A box comes with two pieces each of Strawberry, Blueberry, Pear, Mango, Pineapple and Guava. ($19.99) Of course, you can find handmade chocolates at Zam Artisan Chocolates. And for Valentine’s, they’ve got a box of 9 heart-shaped truffles filled with fruit ganache, praline or caramel fillings ($29.99).
Virtuoso’s French Pate de Fruits come in such fun flavors as Blood Orange, Caribbean Rum, MacIntosh Apple and Maine Blueberry. Our eyes are getting big too over their Masala Chai gourmet caramel bar and the Whiskey Maple Pecan bar. Both get 5-star reviews. Looking for chocolates? Virtuoso offers turtles topped with pecans.
Looking for classic bon bons? Claire’s got them in a variety of flavors, like brown sugar espresso. A dozen is $15. This shop is run by Claire Wilson. She says she has “baking and making candy since I was a little girl and look forward to sharing my favorite goodies with you.” She also sells some mouth-watering chocolate toffee, fudge and other delectables.
Shop owner Shelly sells handmade, small-batch toffee and gourmet chocolates. If toffee is your thing, this shop’s Toffarazzi is your destination. These small-batch toffees come enveloped in chocolate and rolled in chopped almonds. They’ve won awards, gotten dozens of 5-star reviews. A 1-pound box is $36 with free shipping.
The Houston shop is run by Tamaraa, a “Caribbean Girl with a little southern flavor”. She creates artisan preserves, jellies, butters and more. If fudge is your thing, Matunda Tamu has a dozen or more varieties. Here’s her vanilla and red velvet flavor, dressed up for Valentine’s Day. Melt in your mouth and a pound of it ($20) should be a sweet experience.
Show owner Yulia was born in Russia. She notes that “Czarina Chocolates focuses on making chocolate from scratch using the best ingredients as well as healthy alternatives to white sugar.” We can’t resist her pitch for milk chocolate bars made with homemade chocolate whipped up with cacao butter and liqueur and no refined sugar: “Love nuts? Love caramel? (yes and yes!) You will fall in love with delicious vegan milk chocolate bars with roasted peanuts and sea salt caramel!” ($17 ½ pound)
San Antonio Treat Factory owner Lisa Kenyon says she “loves to make delicious treats and snacks.” Caramel and chocolate apples, chocolate wrapped pretzels and grahams and (whoa!) Valentine’s Day Dipped Oreos. For the Oreo lover, what would be better than 12 chocolate-dipped and specially wrapped Valentine Oreo pops ($30)?
Handmade and delicately decorated mini-sugar cookies come with generously sweet and artsy tops ($32 for 15). Strictly speaking this is not a candy, but it’s just as sweet and what a presentation! They’ve got cookies for every holiday, actually, including beautiful skull cookies for Dia de los Muertos. Their work is the definition of artisan sweets.