Growing up in Spain, I didn’t know what Halloween was. The only thing going on around this time of the year over there is the Day of All Saints, where people mourn the dead and go to the cemetery and bring flowers. As a kid, you can understand I didn’t find this the most thrilling holiday. So when I found out about costumes and buckets of candy on October 31st, I embraced it with fervent ardor.

The problem is, once you go beyond a certain age, going around asking strangers for candy quickly changes from cute to awkward. That’s why it’s great to have young kids. They do all the work, and then you split the earnings.

As much as I do look forward to fun-size snickers though, my tolerance for junk is decreasing steadily in recent years. About time, right? So if you want to treat yourself to some GOOD artisanal chocolate, lovingly made right here in Brooklyn, I have some suggestions! You will argue that these treats are pricier than their mainstream counterparts. Well, for starters, these local operations use top-quality ingredients, responsibly sourced, and their process is not exactly factory-style. You can check out Liddabit Sweet’s Candy Bar Economics for more info.

All photos courtesy of New York Mouth, an awesome source for local food makers you really should check out. They carry all the brands featured in this article.

Fine & Raw Chocolates

We have been obsessed with Fine & Raw since we first tried their incredible chocolate goods at the Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. They use raw chocolate, which is free of sugar, dairy and additives and very high in antioxidants – which we all know are good for you. Their cacao & coconut chunky bonbon is heavenly (and I’m not a coconut person). You can find them at The Chocolate Room and other retailers around Brooklyn and Manhattan, and online at their store and New York Mouth.

Cacao Prieto

The Red Hook based chocolate & liquor company makes premium organic chocolate bars that are almost too pretty to eat. Their cacao is sourced from their own self-sustainable farm in Dominican Republic. Each 72% dark chocolate bar comes with a beautiful illustration postcard by Sophie Blackall, inspired by the history of the Prieto family. Their varieties include Pistachio & Apricot, Hazelnut & Raisin or Cashew & Cranberry (my favorite). They can be found at Union Market, retailers around Brooklyn, at their online store and New York Mouth.

Tumbador Chocolate

Under the direction of Jean-Francois Bonnet, Tumbador Chocolate creates delicious sweets and snacks. Part of their talented team is given a second chance through community based programs such as Strive, Goodwill and The Fortune Society. The above chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies are a grown up, artisanally crafted version of the Halloween staple. You can find their goods at their online store and New York Mouth.

Liddabit Sweets

Since 2009, Liddabit Sweets has been crafting heavenly chocolate treats using the best ingredients. They keep the operation as local and responsible as possible with partners like Salvatore Bklyn or Ronnybrook Dairy. The ‘Snacker’ bar (above) features crunchy roasted peanuts, caramel and creamy chocolate nougat, all covered in dark chocolate. They share some of their recipes in their recently released book, The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook. If you don’t feel like recreating the goodness at home, you can find them at Smorgasburg in DUMBO, many stores (and hotels!) around Brooklyn and Manhattan, and online at their shop and New York Mouth.

Mmmm… Enjoy!


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of those magical places where anyone can have a great time. Toddlers, hipsters, grandparents, teenagers, tired parents pushing a double stroller (moi). It also has one of the best membership packages around. For $50 (or $85 for a family) you get access year-round, including special event dates like the Chile Fiesta or the Cherry Blossom festival (the entrance fee on those days is $15 instead of $10). A nice bonus: guest and parking passes. Most of the membership cost is tax deductible. And best of all? It keeps the BBG going.

I truly love the BBG. And no, I’m not their PR person.

The Chile Fiesta brings together local vendors that specialize in spicy goods, with a big presence of chocolate shops who kick it up a few notches for the occasion. Unfortunately, my taste buds are on the whimpy side when it comes to heat, so while I really liked the idea of most of the hot goods for sale, I couldn’t bring myself to try them. Case in point, Mrs. Kim’s Kimchi.

Chile Fiesta - Mrs. Kim Kimchi

I want to be brave. I want to like it. Maybe next time I’m at Smorgasburg, where they can be found every week.

See, this is more my kind of thing.

Chile Fiesta - Whimsy & Spice

Whimsy & Spice had people lined up to try their fudgesicles, which are exactly that – frozen fudgey treats on a stick. A hint of curry gave mine a more grown-up flavor. Their pumpkin sandwich cookies are beyond delicious. Their treats can be purchased through their website, at the Brooklyn Flea, and at many gourmet stores.

Chile Fiesta - Fine and Raw

The chocolate department was definitely well represented. The Chocolate Room, Nunu Chocolates, Raaka Chocolate – some of Brooklyn’s chocolate champions. Fine & Raw (above) grabbed our attention with their soft and chunky delights. Their cacao & coconut bar is a winner.

Have you heard about that shop in Brooklyn that  sells only mayonnaise? It’s no urban legend, it’s Empire Mayonnaise.

Chile Fiesta - Empire Mayonnaise

They had two spicy varieties for sale –spicy chili and yuzu chili– along with a few of their classic flavors, such as rosemary, white cheddar or lime pickle. Their goods can be found at their shop (564 Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights), at their online store, and in shops all over Brooklyn and around the country.

This year’s Chile Fiesta was bigger than last year. Hopefully next year it will be even bigger! And I will be sure to work on my tolerance for spicy goods.