Everything in moderation, right? Satisfying your sweet tooth falls in this category, and we’ve picked 7 ways for you to explore the candy side of our local culinary scene.
Dean Bingham of Dean’s Sweets was formerly an architect, hand-dipping chocolates was just something he did in his spare time for friends and family. It wasn’t until years later that he went from dabbling in truffle making to choosing it as a new career. His architectural background easily leant itself to the creative design of chocolates, each its own unique piece of art. He is well known for his modern take on the Made in Maine candy, the Needham, substituting the traditional mashed potato filling with Cold River Vodka. Should you, or someone you know, be interested in trying your own hand at candy making, seasonally Dean’s Sweets has offered truffle making classes, so keep an eye out on their events page for when these activities come up! For those who want to stick to indulging in his artisanal chocolates, visit the Fore St. shop in the Portland Old Port or stay at The Press Hotel and you’ll find these tasty truffles at turn down.
“The pull of tides and scent of sea salt upon the breeze” are the inspiration for Black Dinah‘s confectionary exploration of flavor. Founded “downeast” on Isle Au Haut, these days their beautiful chocolates can be found at their retail location in Westbrook, or if you make it to Blue Hill, at Fairwinds Florist. As a suggestion, their Critter Collection is a fun gifting idea for all ages.
If you love Maine craft beer and chocolate, you’re new favorite confectioner is going to be Laura Rudy.. Her passion for the culinary arts took her to France and Belgium where she became acquainted with European cooking styles and brewing beer which culminated in a delicious business model that is La Creme Chocolat. Her discerning palate has helped her create a line of chocolates that pair wonderfully with Maine craft beer. Allagash, Maine’s own Belgian-style beer brewer, works with La Creme for a specialty line of chocolates you can purchase in their tasting room.
Haven’s Candies have been crossing the lips of the young and old since 1915 when Hebert Haven started the business out of his Forest Ave. home. Over 100 years later, the company is still taking the same care to create their confections using time-honored recipes and only premium ingredients. Guided factory tours are available by appointment and you can even schedule a candy making party if you’re looking for a delicious destination activity.
From their retail locations in Boothbay Harbor, Portland and Freeport, Coastal Maine Popcorn offers custom made popcorn with a mix of flavors one couldn’t even imagine – such as cotton candy, black licorice, and key lime pie, with new sweet and savory flavors constantly being developed. Their staff have recommendations on which flavors to combine to create even more interesting tastes. If you find a great combo yourself, share it with the rest of us!
…and then there’s Len Libby’s based out of Scarborough. For over 70 years, Len Libby Chocolatier has been known for their fine chocolate creations. Make sure while you’re there to take a photo with Lenny, the world’s only life-size chocolate moose! If you’re taste buds are ready for a chocolate alternative, we recommend their salt water taffy!
We’ll conclude with the most health-conscious option to choose when you’ve got a hankering for something sweet – Bixby & Co. Based out of Rockland, you can snack on Tori Burch Award Winner Kate MaCleer’s chocolate bars guilt free, even if you have allergies and dietary restrictions! Her bars are certified non-GMO, kosher, dairy free, gluten free and many are even vegan. If you have a nut allergy, we recommend you circle back to Dean’s Sweets, who doesn’t work with any nuts, unlike Bixby Bars. In Portland you can find them either at Whole Foods off of Franklin, or Le Roux Kitchen on Commercial St.
These are a few of our favorite things – did we miss one of yours? Let us know in the comments!